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.”)

Fausta and Dan Collins are rightly ridiculing these policies as politically correct and anti-masculine.

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.

FILED UNDER: James Joyner,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Eneils Bailey says:

    Like other aspects of our society, I guess the physical fitness industry has fallen prey to the pussification of the American male.
    If you are out shopping for a gym to stay in shape and enter an establishment finding males acting like Alan Alda or having the appearance as though they just left the beauty shop, leave and find another gym.
    What’s next, will they ban sweating and leaving the toilet seat up.




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  2. Brian says:

    What part of “target clientele of novice exercisers” is going misunderstood by the people kvetching about pussification? The people who need to grunt have plenty of places to work out, whereas some schlump in their fifties who’s been told by their doctor to get themselves to a gym for their first time in their life has enough to worry about in an unfamiliar environment without some musclehead triggering all those middle-school-gym-class memories.

    If the “no grunting” rules help more people get fit overall, isn’t that the best outcome for everybody?




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  3. Boyd says:

    While their disdain for the Planet Fitness model is evident, I think both James and Eneils are saying exactly the same thing you are, Brian: find the gym that suits your style. If it’s Planet Fitness’s “anti-testosterone” atmosphere you’re looking for, then that’s where you need to be.

    For Albert Argibay, that’s apparently not the case.




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  4. Triumph says:

    Fausta and Dan Collins are rightly ridiculing these policies as politically correct and anti-masculine.

    No–they are simply devised to satisfy their market. Planet Fitness is A BUSINESS–as such its main purpose is to insure profitability, not to pursue any political agenda.




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  5. lily says:

    For shear pornography try listening to (without watching) a tennis match. Ooooo! Ahhhhh! Ohhhhhhh!




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  6. James Joyner says:

    Triumph: We don’t disagree. Their business model is one that’s not going to be particularly attractive to, say, football players and Navy SEALS. But it’s certainly their right to cater to whomever they wish. They’re also likely right that by having no rules they may well drive off more people than they avoid offending.

    Clearly, Argibay is not their target client and likely alienates those who are. He should have read the membership agreement more carefully and chosen another gym.




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  7. Eneils Bailey says:

    Brian,
    What part of my comment “leave and find another gym” did you not understand? Want to grunt, look elsewhere. Planet Fitness has it’s rule for everyone to live with if you want to be a member.

    Also, if a person has problems with evoking memories of some “musclehead triggering all those middle-school-gym-class memories,” they should be spending more time watching Oprah and Dr. Phil than they do at the gym.
    As for my other comments, grab a dictionary, look up sarcasm, and try to get over it.

    Got to go now, down to the fitness center, hope these lavender sweats don’t make my ass look too big.




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  8. floyd says:

    demand a refund of dues and an apology from planet fitness for pretending to be a gym instead of a dating club for boys.




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  9. just me says:

    This reminds me of the various players in tennis complaining because Monica Seles’ grunting, when she hit the ball distracted them.

    Honestly, hard work often results in a grunt, a grunt free gym is just stupid.




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  10. Christopher says:

    If them’s the rules, then them’s the rules.




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  11. LJD says:

    Part of the problem is many of these “gyms” making a business out of catering to women who pay, but do not workout. Good business sense, but bad news for the guys who actually lift the weights, sans gossip hour. (Oh my gawd, with that guy grunting over there I can’t even hear you tell me about what happened on Desperate Housewives last night!)

    In my town THREE women’s only fitness clubs, with no respectable alternative for men. Honestly, I don’t know how these types of places have managed to stay out of court. Maybe women are just more litigous?




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  12. MikeT says:

    What kind of loser is still dealing with simple bullying during his middle school years when he is in his fifties? Many of us weren’t treated well back then, get over it.




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  13. Digger says:

    Clearly, Argibay is not their target client and likely alienates those who are. He should have read the membership agreement more carefully and chosen another gym.

    Maybe he can’t read *rimshot*… thank you I’ll be here all week!

    On a semi-serious note…

    In my town THREE women’s only fitness clubs, with no respectable alternative for men. Honestly, I don’t know how these types of places have managed to stay out of court. Maybe women are just more litigous?

    Maybe there’s not a market for the men and the businesses have failed? And enough with suing. Leave the poor semi chubby women who are trying to get in shape and women who don’t like to get ooogled alone.

    Go join “The Masters” lawsuit and keep it men only.

    These attacks on privately owned businesses are ridiculous.




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  14. Diamond says:

    Of course PF doesn’t want grunting. Their members don’t lift heavy weights. They exercise in futility. If you lift heavy, that is productively for strength gains, then your breathing changes, you have to pressurize your abdomen and that sometimes results in a grunt. If you lift pencils all day you don’t have to do that. Any of these pansies ever push a car in the snow?! OMG!!!




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