In today’s society, Planet Fitness gets a bad rap and for the most part I believe it’s much deserved. Hell, in several online pieces, I repeatedly refer to the national chain as “Planet Fatness.” It is not so much a jab at the patrons that frequent such an establishment as much as it is a blunt assessment of the training environment it facilitates.
People simply don’t get better at Planet Fitness. Whether it is the bagel and pizza Mondays or the hellacious usage of the “lunk alarm,” this particular gym is the breeding ground for mediocrity.
Read whatever piece of literature you want in self-development, sociology, or personal improvement and I guarantee each remarks how human beings are a product of their environment. I can’t quote the source but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard it said across the blogosphere that you’re a reflection of the five closest people in your inner circle.
So upon reflection, it really is no surprise that the vast majority don’t show marked improvement while training at Planet Fitness. Please be sure to know that I use the term training in the loosest of senses here.
I’m a professional pitcher. The mound, whether it’s at Fenway Park or my local high school, does not change. It’s still 60 ft 6 inches. The dimensions are exactly the same which means that hitting a 4 spot is no more difficult when facing David Ortiz as it is when facing Joe High School, at least in terms of the laws of physics and biomechanics.
Yet, I’d get no better throwing against Joe High School. My environment does not force adaptation and as human beings we will always resist adaptation until we are forced to change. The patrons at Planet Fitness have no motivation to improve because their environment induces no selective pressures.
So what’s my favorite training environment? If you followed the logic from my opening premise, you’d think that I would love to train with the world’s best lifters in order to facilitate improvement.
Sure, I’d love to train at Westside Barbell, Elite FTS, or CT Fletcher’s gym. Google those names right now if you’re not familiar with them. Now.
I’d get better simply because the stressors of not wanting to get embarrassed out of the gym would get my ass moving weights above my abilities real quick. Adaptation would be forced.
But I love training in fucking dungeons. Yes, dungeons where the plates are rusty, the barbell is bent and bloody, and the closest thing to a mirror is that light bulb flickering because it can’t decide whether it wants to stay on or off.
I like it dark.
As Bane said, “Ah you think darkess is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but blinding..”
Training in dungeons oozes of greatness. The darkness is the soul’s reminder that we must struggle and ultimately fail sometimes to induce growth and improvement. We must make it our magnificent obsession to emerge from the darkness. To look mediocrity right in the eye and tell it to fuck off.
I don’t need or want the commercial gyms with the pretty equipment, the hot blond on the elliptical, and the mirrors to see just how veiny my biceps are after I did a set of preacher curls in the squat rack.
There is purity to training in environments like dungeons.
It takes me back to this fall when the Roy Hobb’s World Series was being hosted here in Fort Myers. To and from the weight room during rehab, I would walk past 60 and 70 year old men playing baseball, simply because they loved it. There was no extrinsic reward, no money, no fanfare. There was nothing to be garnered but pure enjoyment from the moment. It was the purest expression of baseball or any sport I’ve seen in a long time.
Dungeons induce this same sentiment of purity that I truly believe no other training environment can. Chad and I trained today because we love it. We embrace the Iron and everything it stands for and represents. Everything that it teaches about life and being a man, we embrace when we train in dungeons.
Sure, we compete against each other and of course there is an element to it that we want to improve ourselves to take a step closer to reaching the big leagues but ultimately that’s not why we do it.
When Chad and I reach the big leagues, we’re not going to look back and tell ourselves that our dungeon workouts are the reason we got here because it somehow improved our ability. No, we’re going to be thankful we trained in darkness because it taught us to struggle and as cliché as it sounds to become one with the Iron and what it represents.
We will emerge through the wads of mediocrity, through the darkness, and into the spotlight of greatness because we embrace and thrive in training environments like dungeons.
You’ll hear it said again that you’re mostly a product of your environment and the five closest people in your inner circle. Well I can think of no better circle than a rusted barbell, some chalk, bloody hands, and an indomitable will that I will lift this iron even if it kills me.
Embrace the darkness. Take the red pill. Find your dungeon.