Is the Planet Fitness Black Card worth an additional $11.99 per month? Below we break down all the perks of the PF Black Card and Black Card alternatives. This is a must read before signing up for your next gym membership.
With low membership rates and free pizza, Planet Fitness has taken over the fitness industry. In 2017, nearly 20% of all US gym-goers are members of a Planet Fitness. However, Planet Fitness is notorious for having low attendance rates. A study by NPR’s Planet Money found that half of Planet Fitness members never actually visit the gym. With such a high number of members not attending the gym, one must question, is it worth it?
All Member Perks (both Black Card and Regular)
Perk #1: Unlimited Access to Home Club
This perk should be expected. If you purchase a Planet Fitness Black Card you are allowed to workout at the home club you purchased the membership from. With Planet Fitness, you know exactly what you are getting, a quality, clean gym with good equipment. You won’t get “health club” amenities like a pool, sauna, basketball courts, racquetball …etc., but if you’re only objective is to lift weights, PF has you covered.
Perk #2: Free Fitness Training
Planet Fitness offers all members “free fitness training.” This training consist of two different functions. First, Planet Fitness staff will show all members how to use PF equipment. These are meant to be more informative than an actual personal training session. Second, PF runs small group training sessions throughout the day. These training sessions consist of circuit workouts and can be both fun and a great workout. All Planet Fitness trainers are certified, and the workouts are legitimate workouts that will definitely help add muscle tone and benefit your health.
Perk #3: Free Wifi
The fact that this is listed as a perk is kind of strange. Does any gym not offer free wifi these days?
Black Card Perks
Perk #4: Reciprocal Use of All Planet Fitness Locations
Planet Fitness has nearly 1,400 locations spread across the US. For a frequent traveler, this is a must. As the greatest value-add of all the Black Card perks, many members purchase the Black Card solely for this reason. One drawback of the multi-location access is many cities may not have a PF or may only have one. If that one location happens to be across town from where you’re staying, it’s probably not worth the gas to visit. Many Black Card holders claim this access is great in concept, but really not that practical for real-world use due to the scarcity of Planet Fitness locations.
Perk #5: Unlimited Guest Privileges
Unlimited guest privileges is a really awesome perk. Basically, Black Card members can bring a guest to any location anytime they’d like. The guest do not have to pay for the visit. This can be great for couples who only visit the gym together or for someone who always needs a workout buddy. PF front desk staff will try to upsell the guest on purchasing a membership on nearly every visit, but if your guest has the slightest ability to dodge a sales pitch, they will escape unscathed.
Perk #6: Use of Tanning
Black Card members receive unlimited tanning. This can be a great perk for those of you who like to periodically bake your bodies. Yes, with a Black Card you can have a deep, dark tan in the dead of winter. With all we know about how harmful tanning beds are, I’m somewhat shocked any facility would offer unlimited tanning for so cheap, but what you do with your body is your own prerogative.
Perk #7: Unlimited Hydromassage
Hydromassage machines are really cool and give great massages. I’ve actually never seen anyone else use the machine at my PF, but nonetheless, they’re really cool. With the Black Card, you can jump in there and get as many massages as you’d like.
Perk #8: Unlimited Massage Chairs
Have you ever been to a Sharper Image, sat down in a massage chair and passed out? With a Black Card, you can do that every day and you don’t have to pretend you’re interested in buying the chair for those extra few minutes. PF’s massage chairs may be a little greasy from the sweaty guy who sat there before your massage, but overall, they are quality chairs and give pretty great massages.
Perk #9: Unlimited Total Body Enhancement
Describing Total Body Enhancement is not the easiest thing to describe. For a great review of all the features, read this linked article. In short, an individual wanting total body enhancement steps into a tube where they are blasted by red lights while standing on a vibrating platform. The red lights, in theory, are rejuvenating and give the recipient a dose of vitamin D. The vibrating panel or “vibra shape” gives the user, “similar metabolic benefits as walking on the treadmill, excluding the cardiovascular benefits.” I’m not exactly sure what that means walking on a treadmill for 12 minutes would only burn about 100 calories. Anyway, this machine shakes you and flashes you with red lights and it is supposed to be beneficial.
Perk #10: Half Priced Cooler Drinks (restrictions apply)
With this perk, you can buy drinks for almost as cheap as you can buy them at the grocery store. If you’re someone who doesn’t plan ahead at all, this perk can be beneficial. Bringing a water bottle has always been a must for me when I visit the gym, so this perk doesn’t really help me out. Also, even with the ½ price, protein drinks and other fitness drinks are much more affordable at the grocery store or GNC.
Perk #11: 20% off Reebok Products
If you like Reebok gear and buy a lot of it, this perk alone may be a good enough reason to get a Black Card. Cardholders get 20% off all online and Reebok Outlet purchases. In recent years, Reebok has put out some really cool gear and this is definitely a great perk. You will have to buy a substantial amount of gear for this to be worth it, but I know there are some hardcore gym fashionistas out there!
The Black Card has some great perks and some perks that sound great, but you will never use. If you travel somewhat frequently and are an avid gym-goer, the Black Card is absolutely worth it. However, if you are new to having a gym membership (the type of people PF prey on) it is very unlikely you will use any of the perks because you will never visit the gym. As I discussed before, only 50% of Planet Fitness members ever attend the gym after they enroll. That means every other person buying a PF membership will get zero value out of their membership, ever.
If you are interested in purchasing a Black Card, I recommend first buying the normal membership to see if you use it. Planet Fitness makes it a pain in the butt to cancel your membership, so it’s much better to have a $9.95 membership rolling over instead of a $21.99. If you find that you are visiting the gym frequently and would like the added perks of a Black Card, just upgrade then.
Everything boils down to how often you visit the gym. Are you part of the 50% that visit a couple times a week, or will you purchase your membership and never go? Many of the perks offered by the Black Card are just fluff, no one actually uses them, and there is really no benefit. Some of the perks offer real value and can be a great addition to a normal gym membership. However, at the end of the day, Planet Fitness is a pretty below-average gym. They’re typically overcrowded and are very limited on amenities. While they market to folks that are just beginning their fitness journey, the people who get the most benefit are gym junkies, while the newbies never show up. At $9.95, it can be a great value, but you have to visit to make it worth it.