No Grunting Allowed at the Gym
Yesterday’s NYT has a rather odd story about Albert Argibay, a New York bodybuilder and prison guard who was thrown out of the gym for grunting while benching 500 pounds.
Grunting, rude as it may be, has been commonplace in gyms for as long as weights have been lifted. At most health clubs, grunts elicit little more than annoyed looks or sighs of irritation. But at Planet Fitness, a national chain with 120 locations, it is a matter not only of etiquette, but also of club policy: one too many offending noises can get a membership revoked in the time it takes to do a sit-up. Nationwide, the chain expels roughly two members a month for various reasons, most commonly grunting and dropping weights.
The no-grunt policy is one of several eyebrow-raising rules — no bandannas, no jeans, no banging weights — that managers say are intended to make their target clientele of novice exercisers feel comfortable.
At Planet Fitness gyms, grunters and other rule-breakers are treated to an ear-rattling siren with flashing blue lights and a public scolding. The “lunk alarm,” as the club calls it, is so jarring it can bring the entire floor to a standstill. (A lunk is defined, on a poster, as “one who grunts, drops weights, or judges.”)
Still, this one is easy enough: Don’t join a wimpy gym if you’re a he-man bodybuilder. Planet Fitness has built a business model around catering to the type of client who is intimidated by more traditional gyms which cater to boxers, bodybuilders, and the like. Their membership agreement and the general atmosphere of the place make it abundantly clear that this is the case. The idiotic “lunk alarms” are a pretty good clue, no? So, join a different gym.