Planet Fitness is a newly opened gym inside the Galleria Mall at Dupont and Dufferin, the chain's first Canadian location after enjoying success across the border for many years. With its 'judgment free' motto (no body builders or meatheads), and cheap membership fees, this gym is perfect for fitness beginners.
I went to check out Planet Fitness on its opening day so the place was buzzing with people interested to see what all the excitement was inside the relatively dead mall. With its bright yellow and purple dĂŠcor, it was as if I had stepped back in to the late 80s, and I was half expecting to see scrunchies and body suits abound. I tried to keep an open mind and not judge a book by its cover.
As I waited for one of the managers to show me around, they popped me into one of their massage chairs (like the kind you put money in at the mall) - which felt nice enough, but I couldn't imagine ever choosing to do that on the regular, particularly with people watching me.
As I got shown around I realized this is the perfect place for all you Cardio Cathys or Treadmill Tracys - with over 100 pieces of cardio equipment (treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, stair climbers), this place is great if you're looking to straight-up burn calories. They also have a variety of weight machines, and of course free weights - but if lifting is your primary workout or you really want to build some solid muscle mass, this place won't appeal much to you.
Among their standout facilities are their three circuit rooms. The first one is an abs circuit that can be done in 12 minutes - you just follow along the numbered machines, and once you've finished the last one, you're done your circuit. They also offer an abs and stretching circuit, as well as a 30-minute total body circuit.
Set aside from the fitness room was the Black Card Member area. These members have special access to this area, which features two of the aforementioned massage chairs and two hydrotherapy massage beds. The beds were described to me as a Jacuzzi without getting wet - they use warm water pressure to massage you. Again, like the massage chairs, I'm sure it would feel nice, but I couldn't imagine using these (particularly since the two beds were in the same small room, so you'd probably be relaxing with a stranger).
Next to the beds were five separate rooms with tanning beds. I was a bit taken aback when I saw these - a newly opened health and fitness centre shouldn't be promoting beds that speed up your aging process and are all-around terrible for you. They were pretty insistent that you couldn't use the beds unless you had goggles. (What about SPF 1000?)
Finally, in the Black Card area, you'll find a Total Body Enhancement booth, which looked like a tanning bed on its end. Apparently you're supposed to stand in this booth for 12 minutes as it blasts you with a bright red light, so you feel like you're in the sun without the UVB rays. The bottom of this booth vibrates so it would appear that you are getting a bit of a lower body workout in. It all seemed very "As Seen on TV" to me, but whatever.
I hate to sound like I'm knocking this place - aside from a few issues with the special Black Card area (and the tacky dĂŠcor), this gym is perfect for newbies, or those who just need a basic workout. They don't offer traditional classes, like spinning or yoga - just sessions where a trainer will show you how to use the machines and circuits.
Best of all, all of this is available for an awesome price. For just $10 a month, you get 24-hour access to their gym, and you can cancel at any time. Or you can opt to be a special Black Card member for $19.99 a month which will grant you access to unlimited usage of the member's-only area, plus half-off beverages. If you're looking to save money while working on shedding pounds, Planet Fitness is a strong option.
Writing by Chynna Wilson. Follow Chynna on Twitter @chynnawilson .
Photos by Jesse Milns.