Don’t Call Attention to Your Success, It’s Too Intimidating

(Another entry from DSP that’s now been removed, enjoy!)

The stupidest thing I've ever seen in a gym...and I used to work out at the Y.

The stupidest thing I’ve ever seen in a gym…and I used to work out at the Y.

Last week I listened to the radio on the way home from work and the show hosts were discussing the book that the movie Divergent is based on. The book came out in 2011 and 3 years later it has a movie coming out. As a writer of fiction I was mildly jealous and then I swept that feeling aside and said ‘dammit I’m going to finish my current novel, publish it, and get MY OWN movie deal!’

Divergent‘s success didn’t intimidate me, it inspired me to be just as successful, if not more.

Unfortunately not everyone shares that particular character trait apparently, since an entire chain of gym’s has sprung up to cater to those that can’t deal with the “intimidation” of people more fit or more motivated than them in their gym.

Which is, quite frankly, the most pathetic gym I can even imagine.

If you tell me you have a membership at Planet Fitness I am, from now on, likely to assume you are a complete wimp.

Planet Fitness has a lot of odd rules apparently, all targeted toward making people feel less “judged” when they work out.

It’s all part of a their Judgement Free Zone (“No Judgment” is written on every machine), which they define as a way for members to “relax, get in shape, and have fun without being subjected to the hard-core, look-at-me attitude that exists in too many gyms.” Now we’re all for making gyms more inviting to folks who are intimidated because they are new to exercise, overweight, or just plain out of shape. But Planet Fitness may be taking this a bit too far. Case in point: Making a sound of exertion can set off the Lunk Alarm—a siren that flashes and blares when someone drops a weight, grunts, or “judges.”

Men’s Health

This of course led to a woman being told to “cover up” because she was too fit and therefore a danger to the self-esteem of some other gym member.

According to Austin that staff member said, “excuse me we’ve had some complaints you’re intimidating people with your toned body. So can you put on a shirt?”

Austin was wearing a tank that showed her stomach and capri-pants and says she didn’t see anything wrong with the outfit. She says she was only told not to wear a string tank because of the dress code policy at the gym.

She agreed to wear the shirt, but while the first staff member went to get it she says she was approached by another staff member who also took issue with her body.   Austin says at that point she had enough; she asked for a manager – asked for her money back and left.


Seriously? This is what our society is being reduced too? Not only is grunting and heavy breathing a physiological necessity when you are really working out and pushing your limits (when I was hitting the gym seriously and really pushing myself there was some huffing and puffing and “intimidating” facial expressions going on) but it may actually increase your performance and strength.

But regardless of how judgmental and physically unsound Planet Fitness’s rules may be they are a private company and are free to make stupid rules, the real issue is rooted in a wimpy society.

We have reached a point where people are so intimidated by another person’s success that they feel the need to tell people to keep their success under wraps so they won’t feel inadequate.

I don’t even understand this concept, which leads me to believe it’s based in some fundamental flaw in a person’s character. When I was going to the gym the sight of a muscular gym goer didn’t throw me into despair, it spurred me on. They didn’t magically fall into that body, they had to go to the gym just like me, which meant I had the opportunity to end up like them too. It made me spend that extra half hour on the elliptical or swim extra laps at the pool or run that extra mile on the treadmill.

Success should spur us on, whether it’s our own success or just the wish to catch up to another person.

Putting out someone else’s candle doesn’t make your own brighter, as I like to say. Covering up someone else’s success won’t make you more successful, it just flattens the curve.

Planet Fitness, along with the rest of society, are setting us up for a world of comfortable mediocrity.




Comments are closed.