So you're ready to finally buckle down and join a gym.
There's just one problem...
You have no idea which one to choose.
Near your home or office, you undoubtedly have at least a half dozen choices; including huge mega-health clubs, convenience fitness chains, and private clubs.
Not to mention Crossfit centers, yoga studios, spin studios, and more.
Don't worry. I'm here to help you pick. In my Gym Comparison Series, I put each gym brand against one of their top competitors and break down the price, equipment, classes, and full pros and cons of each.
In this piece, we'll dive deep into Crunch vs Planet Fitness.
What is Crunch Fitness?
Crunch Fitness is what I would call a convenience gym. Meaning, it's inexpensive, easy to find, and gives you pretty much everything you need for a great workout at a reasonable price.
These kinds of gyms are popping up more and more frequently for busy folks who don't want to shell out top dollar to join an elite fitness club.
Crunch has been around in some form since 1989, and now features over 265 franchised locations through the United States and Canada.
At most Crunch locations, you'll find group fitness classes, free weights, plenty of cardio equipment, and a welcoming attitude... The chain's tagline is "No Judgments."
What is Planet Fitness?
Planet Fitness and Crunch are remarkably similar in some ways, as you'll see when we dive into the full comparison below.
Planet Fitness is also an affordable, convenience-style gym with plenty of cardio options and a "Judgment Free Zone," state of mind.
They even share a purple theme!
PF started up in 1992, right around the same time as Crunch, only its grown to a quite massive scale since then. There are over 1,000 Planet Fitness locations in the United States, nearly 5 times as many as Crunch offers.
Chances are, there's a Planet Fitness within a few miles of your home or office.
Crunch Fitness Cost: Crunch, like many fitness clubs, is a franchise, so each location may have some flexibility in their pricing and benefits. But in general, basic access to just your one local Crunch Fitness will run you a scant $10 per month. The next option up costs $19.95 per month and lets you go to any Crunch location, plus it gives you access to the group fitness classes.
The top-level membership, for around $30 per month, includes all of that plus tanning, hydromassage, and guest benefits where available.
There's also an annual fee at most Crunch clubs, which will vary by location. But from my research you could expect to pay around $40 per year in addition to your club membership, a fee which goes toward equipment maintenance, upkeep, and upgrades.
Planet Fitness Cost: Pricing at Planet Fitness is similar to Crunch, and it's apparent that these two gyms are priced to compete with one another directly. Basic access to one Planet Fitness location will run you about $10 per month (or $15 for month-to-month with no contract).
To get access to any PF location, you'll pay around $20 per month, plus a start-up fee that will vary by location.
It's hard to declare a more budget-friendly option. Both Crunch and Planet Fitness are some of the least expensive gym chains you'll find, and both feature nearly identical pricing.
Though fees and options may vary depending on location, on cost, these two chains are a tie.
Crunch Fitness hours: This chain features relatively standard gym hours. Though each location may vary, most that I've seen open early in the morning (around 5am during the week) and stay open until 10 or 11pm at night during the week. Weekend hours are shorter, usually around 7am-7pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Planet Fitness hours: Most PF locations are open 24 hours. Awesome! Check your local gym to be sure, as sometimes different locations may alter their hours. But it's part of the selling point of the brand, and you can usually expect 24 hour access or at least late night hours with most PF locations.
Crunch Fitness: You'll find pretty much everything you need, equipment-wise, at Crunch Fitness. These gyms usually have an absolute ton of cardio, along with a well-stocked dumbbell rack and free weights to go along with a power rack or two. Don't expect this to be some beefy powerlifting gym, but for recreational lifters, they should enough to keep you busy.
Planet Fitness: Planet Fitness is notoriously biased toward cardio. You'll find an absolute ton of treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, and stair steppers, but a very limited weighlifting section. Planet Fitness usually has a limited dumbbell rack and a Smith machine, but no free Olympics weights or power rack equipment.
Crunch Fitness classes: Most Crunch Fitness locations have a pretty impressive class schedule for group fitness (remember, though, that the basic $10/month membership won't get you into the classes. You'll need to bump your membership up a notch to participate). At Crunch, you'll find, Zumba, HIIT, bodyweight circuits, pilates, yoga, kickboxing, and much, much more.
Planet Fitness classes: No classes at Planet Fitness. They do offer some basic training to help members get familiar with the equipment and help you build a workout plan, but you own't find yoga, zumba, or anything like that at most PF locations.
Crunch Fitness: At certain Crunch Fitness locations (called Signature Clubs), you'll find pool and spa areas. Some of them are quite nice! At most Crunch's, however, there won't be a pool.
Important note: Signature Clubs often have higher membership fees to account for the extra access and benefits. Check with your local club for pricing.
Planet Fitness: Planet Fitness doesn't offer pool or spa areas. Their main goal is to keep costs down for users, so you're better off looking elsewhere for these extra amenities.
Both Crunch and Planet Fitness have full locker rooms with showers.
Though, as always, it depends on the club location. I'd recommend visiting or at least giving your local gym a phone call to find out for sure what they offer.
Crunch Fitness child care: Some locations of Crunch offer child care to keep your kids safe and occupied while you workout! Check with your local gym to see if they are a participating location. As far as cost, you can either pay $4 for the day for your child to stay with the child care staff, or your child can "join" the gym with you for a monthly fee of around $30. It's not cheap, but sometimes it's the only way to get a workout in!
Planet Fitness child care: To keep costs and overhead down, Planet Fitness does not offer child care.
Crunch Fitness and Planet Fitness really are remarkably similar in many ways.
Both offer a convenient and relatively inexpensive way to access gym equipment and a comfortable workout space.
In general, though, Crunch has a little bit more to offer when it comes to equipment, classes, and amenities. The cost is a little bit higher overall, but not by much. If you have a Crunch near you, I'd recommend taking a tour to see how you like the vibe.
You might prefer Crunch Fitness if:
- You want access to better weight lifting equipment
- You need child care
- You love group fitness classes
You might prefer Planet Fitness if:
- You mostly stick to cardio
- You need to work out at odd hours and want 24/7 access
- Price is the most important thing for you
Hope this helped!