Planet Fitness had an interesting idea: all other gyms are full of lunkheads and skinny people, so we will be inviting to everyone who wants a place to exercise without the judgment of fit and muscular people doing their exercising and fitness around us. They call themselves the judgment-free zone. Their slogan is “The world judges, we don’t.”
Man, with all that non-judgy-ness, it must be awesome to exercise there. Well, not really. They also have evacuated any sense of ability to do the kinds of exercises that will get you to your goal. Most people who join gyms do so because they have an image of what a fit person looks like. That means you need to be able to do certain types of exercises to get there. Planet Fitness does not have all the weights that people might need in order to gain muscle and to work out every muscle.
Okay, maybe that isn’t that big of a deal—they do have weights and exercise machines. That and they aren’t judgmental about you not looking like Dwayne Johnson or Kate Upton. Not so fast! Just don’t drop weights or make any kind of noises that sound like you are getting a great workout. Because they have a lunk alarm. You heard me correctly. If you grunt too much from lifting weights, drop the weights on the ground too hard, or wear the wrong outfit, a siren complete with a rotating light goes off and everyone stares at the offending lunk.
Wow. With such a non-judgy-McJudgerson place to workout, how can people NOT sign up?
The truth is that most people who work out in gyms are already healthy, at least in mind and motivation(1). The kind of folks that join a gym like Planet Fitness probably won’t work out long enough to see results, probably won’t work out in the gym very regularly, and probably won’t remain a member of their gym very long. They pay for a membership they don’t use. Great for Planet Fitness, not so great for your wallet.
I am a member of a gym and, to be honest, seeing fit people motivates me to not look so round and pudgy because I don’t want people to think it’s my first day there for the rest of my life. I need people to show me what to look like. I need others to give me tips and pointers on how to get a great workout. I don’t want to go somewhere where everyone looks like I do now because it makes me feel like it isn’t working and not worth the cost of a monthly membership. I need a good example.
The ultimate truth is that Planet Fitness is one of the MOST judgmental gyms out there. People looking around and judging whether you look too fit. Judging whether you’re a dumb lunk throwing weight around to be seen. Saying we don’t judge and then judging your workout habits is pretty judgmental. And I think they are proud about how judgmental they are.
Why in the world are we talking about Planet Fitness in our first article?
The world loves to think that judging others is bad and that being accepting and non-judgmental is good; that it’s the most loving attitude you can have.
The problem in our Planet Fitness world is that no one is consistently being non-judgmental.
Whether you follow Christ or are the most pagan among us, we all judge. Our world is judgmental because in order to make decisions you have to make judgments. You judge whether food is good or not when you decide where to eat. You judge other drivers as you drive down the street on what their home state might be, their race, their gender, and whether they have received adequate lessons on their driver’s test.
You also judge people’s salvation. When someone treats you badly in the grocery store, you wonder if they belong to Jesus or satan. When someone is saying something you don’t like, you wonder whose baptism they were baptized with. If someone holds a different view of sin than you, then you call them judgmental and say they are Pharisees—that’s being judgmental too.
We judge because we have to. We have to be able to discern whether something is true or not. Philippians 1:9-10 says, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ…”(2)
Paul is saying that love abounds when we use knowledge and discernment to approve only excellent things to remain pure and blameless. Love is not accepting sinfulness using nice feelings. That keeps us impure and at blame when Christ returns.
We have to be able to discern whether something is from God or not, whether it’s from Scripture or not, whether Scripture is breathed from God or not, whether the Scripture is relevant to your situation or not. Judgment has a negative connotation but judgment is an every-day necessary part of life.
Now, my job is not to judge whether someone has salvation or not. Even though I do it, it’s not mine to decide. Only God gets to make this final judgment. I DO, however have the job to discern whether someone is speaking or living the truth out in their lives and whether I will associate myself with a true or false teaching or lifestyle. I am called to live out my faith which includes how I speak and with whom I spend my time and how I spend that time.
So, Planet Fitness, the world judges, we don’t? Yeah, you do. You are part of the world just like all of us. And we all judge. My biggest fear is that in our effort to look accepting and inclusive, we have become worldly and deniers of God’s will. In trying to accept and love others by not judging them, we have helped the world around us lose salvation by not following His will and changing to become more holy. And may we all run from this attitude! To walk someone to the narrow path and tell them they don’t need it is to rip heaven away from them.
If we accept this Planet Fitness gospel, we lose sight of the Gospel of Jesus which affirms that there are lost people who need His miraculous presence. In His presence, we leave behind our worldly ways in order to grasp the ways of righteousness, redemption, forgiveness, grace and mercy, holiness, and we do not look back (1 Cor 6:11).
We also need people around us in our walk with Christ who keep us accountable to a standard of living. We need discipleship. We need encouragement. We need others to pray with us when we aren’t living up to God’s standard. We need someone to teach us what is right and wrong. And when we aren’t living right, we need leaders who can guide us back onto the right path. We need people to make judgments so that we get the help we need.
May we not let the world decide what is good. May we surround ourselves with Godly leaders who have lived this life for a long time and have experienced the kinds of things we have not. May we all be discipled into the way of Jesus. May we love others so much that we let them know when they are walking into dangerous paths. May we find ways to grasp the heights of God’s love and leave our worldliness behind.
It’s so important that we remember our goal as Christians is to be increasingly transformed into the image of Christ- a perfect standard never to be diminished or “dumbed down.” We need examples and encouragement from others who are further along, closer to the goal- people who have put in the hard work of faithful living, who have endured the discipline of trials and who are now experiencing a greater measure of the maturity, righteousness, peace and hope that result. Seeing them lifting heavier weights doesn’t discourage me, it gives me context for my trials and exposes the all-sufficiency of God’s strength for every magnitude and variety of trial. Thank you for your insights, Mike.
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