The Shady Side Of The Crowd Meter On The Planet Fitness App

One of the worst parts about going to the gym is not being able to find a machine when you get there because it's too crowded. When all you want to do is get your sweat on and be done, waiting around for a treadmill or elliptical might make you not want to work out at all. Are there ways around this? According to Chunk Fitness, the gym is busiest in the morning before work (between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.) and the early evening (between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.).

A lot of people can only work out during those hours because of their schedules, which leads to crowds. To avoid this, Health recommends trying to go to the gym super early in the morning before the a.m. crowd rushes in. You can also try during your lunch break or on weekends when gyms are typically emptier.

Planet Fitness also had the brilliant idea of adding a feature to their mobile app called the Crowd Meter. It allows members to check their gym's capacity in real-time and see how busy it is (via Count on News 2). The feature can help you schedule your workout around when there are less people there. That hopefully means less wait time for your machines. Plus, with COVID-19, you can practice social distancing more easily. But the feature is not without faults.

There's a reason Planet Fitness's Crowd Meter might be inaccurate

Planet Fitness added the Crowd Meter in its efforts to encourage more people to work out while still following safety policies to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In theory, the idea is impressive. In real life, it doesn't seem to always work perfectly. Luxe Luminous says the feature lets you plan your workout depending on how many people are at your Planet Fitness. Though it helps you see how full the gym is, it doesn't quite tell you whether you have to wait in line. It only shows capacity; the Crowd Meter doesn't indicate if a particular section of the gym (like the treadmills) is busier. 

There have also been discrepancies regarding how accurate the feature is, according to reviews on Reddit. Some claim the app shows the gym as busy even when it is not to keep people away. They claim that it is a way for Planet Fitness to give the illusion that the gym is full, so more people do not come in while still selling memberships to others. 

Becky Zirlen, director of public relations for Planet Fitness, told PopSugar that the app allows you to decide whether or not you want to go to the gym. It also helps you determine how safe you'll feel with crowds. "No matter their schedules, peak times tend to be early in the week coming off the weekend and before and after work hours." Zirlen added.