Staff Writer

Jack Kaplan and his pride of student weightlifters at Carrabec High School in North Anson would not be welcome at Planet Fitness.

The issue is not that the youngsters are rude, or antisocial.

The problem centers on what Planet Fitness calls the "lunk factor": Kaplan's kids, you see, tend to grunt.

"In the environment my kids lift in," Kaplan said, "it certainly is appropriate. Our expectation is for an aggressive environment."

That is not the expectation at Planet Fitness in Waterville, according to co-owner Kris Glidden.

"We have a high percentage of members," he said, "who have not been in a gym for years and years, or who have never been in a gym because of it."

"It" refers to grunting.

Planet Fitness is not interested in such vocal lifting.

Members who violate the grunting prohibition a second time are subjected to the lunk alarm -- a siren that flashes blue.

The New York Times recently featured an article about a Wappingers Falls, N.Y. bodybuilder who ran afoul of the grunting rule.

A manager of the Planet Fitness in Wappingers Falls canceled the bodybuilder's membership after the muscle-bound member challenged the manager about the grunting charge.

So far, Waterville's Planet Fitness has had to use its lunk alarm only once, and the offending grunter remains a member, according to a manager at the facility.

Wes Littlefield, owner of Littlefield's Gym in Oakland, doesn't understand the hostility toward grunting.

"To me you are turning away a lot of people (with that policy)," he said. "I disagree with it, but hey, that is good for me."

Littlefield said members at his gym may grunt as much as they want.

"If you are in the pit of my gym watching football players or powerlifters, you are going to hear some grunting," he said. "The heavier the weight, the more you'll hear. You can't help yourself. It helps you with your lift." Kaplan, a physical education teacher at Carrabec, holds the same opinion.

Grunting, he said, is not about putting on a show or intimidating others. Grunting is a byproduct of intensity, he said.

"I'm training kids to be competitors," he said, "and I would say to be successful in an aggressive environment, they need (to grunt). It serves us well in that environment."

Littlefield said the Planet Fitness ban on grunting is a policy built on ignorance.

"I think people are intimidated by things that they don't know about," he said.

Kaplan has no ill feelings over the lunk alarm.

"That would tell me that my lifters would not be welcome in that environment," he said, "and that is fine. I can respect that."

No comments: