Planet Fitness vs Life Time Fitness: Which Gym is Right for You?

Looking to get your fitness game on and trying to decide between Planet Fitness and Life Time? I’ve been members of both gyms and have the lowdown on both.

Let’s break down the gym life at both places and find out which might be your new workout home. 

image of a gym with text life time fitness vs planet fitness

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Whether you’re a newbie to the fitness world or a seasoned gym-goer, one of these could be your ticket to getting those muscles flexing and heart pumping. Strap in, and let’s dive deep into the sweat and iron of Planet Fitness and Life Time Fitness.

What is Planet Fitness?

Planet Fitness is like that down-to-earth friend who keeps things chill and affordable. Founded in 1992 in Dover, New Hampshire, it’s known for its “Judgement Free Zone” philosophy. So, if you’re new to the fitness scene or feel overwhelmed by hardcore gym culture, this might be your spot.

It’s simple, straightforward, and focuses on general fitness.

Dumbbells on an empty pink rubber floor on wooden floor background,top view with copy space health and exercise concept

Their offering covers all your basic equipment, like treadmills, free weights, and other gym machinery. And guess what? They also offer free personal training, so if you need help starting, they’ve got you covered!

The best part is the cost—it’s a budget-friendly option. So, if you’re watching your pennies or don’t want to splurge on a gym membership, Planet Fitness is a perfect match. Its target market is those just starting or prefer a no-frills, low-key workout environment. It’s no wonder they’ve grown to over 2,000 locations nationwide!

What is Life Time Fitness?

Now, let’s talk about Life Time Fitness – the high-end, swanky friend who’s all about the luxe life. Founded in Minnesota in 1992 (the same year as Planet Fitness!), Life Time takes a comprehensive approach to health and wellness. Think of it as not just a gym but a premier athletic resort. 

LifeTime Fitness offers a wide range of services and amenities beyond your standard treadmills and weights. We’re talking indoor and outdoor pools, basketball courts, Pickleball courts, and climbing walls. Then, there are the group fitness classes – yoga, spin, Pilates, you name it!

Plus, if you’ve got kiddos, they offer childcare services.

And when you’re done with your workout, you can relax in the on-site spa or grab a healthy bite in their cafe. 

woman stretching legs on reformer

Life Time is not your bare-bones kind of gym. It’s for those looking for an immersive, all-in-one fitness experience. It’s geared towards individuals and families who are not just into fitness but see it as a lifestyle – or Athletic Country Club as they call it.

Of course, all these perks come with a higher membership price. But if you value luxury, variety, and convenience in your fitness journey, Life Time could be your gym soulmate.

Head-to-Head Comparison

Beginner-Friendly Facilities

When it comes to being beginner-friendly, Planet Fitness really shines. It’s all about creating a comfortable, non-intimidating environment. Remember that “Judgement Free Zone” philosophy I mentioned? It’s not just a slogan. 

The gym layout is simple and approachable; they even have a policy against grunting and dropping weights.

So, you won’t have to worry about feeling out of place if you’re not lifting heavy or still figuring out how to use the equipment. Plus, having a trainer to guide you makes it even easier to get started.

Life Time, though more upscale, also takes good care of its newbies. When you join, they offer a free consultation, where a trainer will help you set goals and create a workout plan. And, with their wide variety of classes, you can experiment and find something you love, whether Zumba, yoga, or a hardcore HIIT class.

The vibe is a little more intense than Planet Fitness, but don’t let that intimidate you – the community is supportive, and you’ll find people at all fitness levels here.

Fitness Equipment and Facilities

Regarding fitness equipment and facilities, Planet Fitness and Life Time Fitness have unique strengths. Planet Fitness, which is all about keeping it simple and accessible, provides the essential equipment for a solid workout. You’ll find plenty of treadmills, ellipticals, and a decent selection of free weights and weight machines. Don’t expect the bells and whistles here, but it’s more than enough to get in a good sweat session.

Life Time Fitness, on the other hand, is like a fitness playground. They’ve got all the standard gym equipment and then some. Beyond the rows of cardio machines and free weights, they’ve got specialty equipment like kettlebells, TRX bands, and battle ropes. 

And if you’re into sports or recreational activities, Life Time doesn’t disappoint. It’s like an amusement park for fitness enthusiasts, with basketball and racquetball courts, indoor and outdoor pools, and a climbing wall. 

Plus, their facilities go beyond the workout floor – they’ve got clean, spacious locker rooms, a spa, and a cafe. It’s a fitness lover’s paradise if you’re willing to pay the higher membership fee. 

So, in the battle of equipment and facilities, it’s a matter of what you’re looking for. If you want a straightforward, no-frills workout, Planet Fitness has got you covered. But if you’re looking for a wide variety of options and a comprehensive fitness experience, Life Time might be your new fitness home.

the gtx space with heart rate screen and yoga mats and steps

Trainer Availability and Quality

Life Time Fitness and Planet Fitness offer personal training but differ in their approach. Planet Fitness emphasizes providing easily accessible, low-pressure guidance for beginners, and the best part is that it’s included with your membership. So, if you’re just starting and feeling lost, you can get some personalized advice without an extra cost, which is super cool.

On the other hand, Life Time Fitness takes personal training to another level. Their trainers are highly certified and experienced and offer individualized training programs tailored to your specific goals and needs. Whether you want to lose weight, build muscle, or train for a particular sport, you’ll get a customized plan and one-on-one support.

However, this extra attention and expertise comes at an additional cost to your membership.

So, when it comes to trainer availability and quality, it boils down to what you need and what you’re willing to pay for. If you’re a newbie looking for guidance, Planet Fitness should be more than adequate. But if you’re after a more specialized, targeted fitness plan, you might find the personal training at Life Time Fitness worth the extra investment.

Class Availability and Variety

On to the fun stuff – group fitness classes! Both Planet Fitness and Life Time Fitness offer their own unique range of group classes. At Planet Fitness, the classes are all about variety and accessibility. They offer small group sessions as a part of their membership, covering a broad range of workouts from strength and cardio to flexibility and toning.

So, whether you’re shaking it in a Zumba class or working up a sweat in a circuit training session, there’s likely a class that suits your fitness mood.

On the other hand, Life Time Fitness is like the candy store of fitness classes. They have a massive selection, from yoga, spin, and Pilates to more unique offerings like Barbell Strength and GTX (their version of Orangetheory). And let’s remember the aqua classes in their amazing pools! What’s great is that all these classes are included in your membership.

So, if you love to mix up your workouts and try new things, you’ll be like a kid in a candy store at Life Time. 

lifetime fitness workout floor

So, both gyms have their perks in the battle of class availability and variety. Planet Fitness offers a straightforward, no-nonsense approach that is ideal for those new to group fitness or those who prefer smaller class sizes.

Life Time Fitness, however, is a game-changer if you’re a fitness class enthusiast and crave variety in your workout routine.


As any parent knows, trying to fit a workout into your daily routine can be challenging when you have little ones in tow. That’s why childcare availability is an essential factor to consider when comparing gyms.

At Planet Fitness, childcare is not included in the membership and isn’t available at the gym. This means you will have to find alternative childcare options if you want to work out at the gym.

On the other hand, Life Time Fitness offers on-site childcare at their Kids Academy. This service requires a Junior Membership for each kid, but includes 2 1/2 hours each day of childcare, as well as Parent Night Out events. The Kids Academy offers activities such as games, crafts, and even fitness classes designed specifically for kids.

Life Time also has a policy of strict background checks for all employees working with children to ensure the safety of members’ little ones.

So, if you’re a parent looking to incorporate regular workouts into your routine, Life Time Fitness may be the better choice for you. With on-site childcare and plenty of activities to keep kids entertained, you can get in a good workout without worrying about finding a babysitter or your child being bored at the gym.

lifetime fitness gym with bounce house

Additionally, if you have a busy schedule with work and other responsibilities, Life Time also offers extended hours and camps for their Kids Academy, making it easier for you to find time to work out without compromising your little ones’ care.

Additional Amenities 

Now, let’s talk about the extra goodies each gym offers. Planet Fitness scores points for its tanning and massage services. Yeah, you heard that right! After a grueling workout, you can head to their tanning booths or hydromassage beds for some pampering – and it’s all included in the Black Card membership. They also have a small area with vending machines for a quick snack or a protein shake.

Life Time Fitness, on the other hand, feels like a luxury resort. Inside, you’ll find a café where you can grab a healthy, delicious meal or smoothie. So if you’re like me, starving after a workout, you can refuel on site. 

overheard of a lifetime fitness mat during a group class with weights

They also have a glorious spa where you can book massages, facials, and even hair appointments. Imagine fitting in a relaxing massage or a quick blowout after your workout! Now, that’s posh. And let’s not forget their fabulous pools – indoor, outdoor, and even lap pools. It’s perfect for a swim workout or just to chill on a hot day.

So, if you’re looking for basic extras like tanning and massage, Planet Fitness is a steal. But if you’re up for splurging and want to feel like you’re at a resort, Life Time Fitness is your jam.

Choosing the Right Gym for Your Needs

Each gym has unique selling points catering to different fitness needs and preferences. 

If you’re a fitness newbie looking for a welcoming, low-pressure environment with basic equipment, guidance, and some fun perks like tanning and massages, Planet Fitness is the way to go. Their affordable memberships make fitness accessible for everyone. 

On the other hand, if you’re a seasoned fitness enthusiast or appreciate a few luxuries, Life Time Fitness is like a fitness paradise. With wide-ranging high-quality equipment, a plethora of classes, personalized training, and amenities akin to a resort, it’s worth the higher membership cost for those who prioritize variety, quality, and a holistic fitness experience. 

So, my lovely fitness aficionados, it’s all about choosing a gym that aligns with your personal fitness goals, needs, and budget. You do you, and keep sweating and smiling!

More Workout Resources

If you’re new to Life Time Fitness group classes, be sure to check out my guide! It goes over everything you need to know about the different type of group fitness classes.

Life Time isn’t just for adults -they also are a great place to throw a birthday party! Here’s our experience throwing a birthday party at Life Time Fitness.


  • Ali Van Straten

    Ali Van Straten is the founder and journalist of Champagne and Coffee Stains. She is a Peloton expert, certified running coach and certified nutrition coach. Champagne and Coffee Stains provides information and resources on Peloton Interactive, running and recipes.

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