I use planet fitness mainly because I travel for work and with their black card membership, I get access to any of their gym locations.
After visiting over 100 locations I can tell you that, indeed, they have a smith machine (which is good enough for me). However, only some of the Planet Fitness gyms do have barbell pads.
(This is not the case for all locations and it depends on the manager of the club.)
Here you have my brief answer but if you wanna know more details, below you can find the multiple reasons why some planet fitness gyms do not offer bar pads (as well as other accessories).
Do they have barbell pads at Planet Fitness?
In general, one of the reasons why planet fitness doesn’t have barbell pads is that nobody uses them.
Most of the planet fitness members that I’ve spoken to are recreational or first-time gym users, and they use resistance machines like leg presses, chest presses, and lat pull-downs.
I barely see anyone using smith machines (which is the only machine on the planet fitness where you would need barbell pads).
So I’m guessing that if most people don’t use smith machines, why would they bother to bring an accessory such as barbell pads?
Some Planet Fitness gyms do have barbell pads
I’ve been to more than 100 different planet fitness locations and only a handful had a barbell pad.
However, those barbell pads weren’t there because the gym manager had to place them.
They were there because other members brought them.
If you see someone using barbell pads in planet fitness I can bet you my hand and leg that someone brought it with them (just like you see people using weightlifting belts, ankle straps, and weighted vests).
Learn more: Here you can read about my experience with planet fitness and overcharges.
Why Planet Fitness doesn’t have barbell pads?
Another reason why you won’t find barbell pads in every planet fitness location is that there is no judgment policy to maintain a friendly environment.
According to planet fitness, people who use barbell pads are often using very heavy weights, which is intimidating to most members.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or you don’t know much about PF gym), planet fitness has its own rules that are much different from regular gyms and fitness clubs.
One of the most “famous” rules is to not create any Lunk-like actions that make other members feel intimidated (e.g., grunting, screaming, yelling, groaning).
Barbell pads are not so common in gym chains
Normally, most of the gyms that have barbells, squat racks, and smith machines also offer barbell pads. Barbell pads help to reduce pressure on your upper back, especially when you add a lot of weight to the bar.
However, this is not always the case for every gym. If the gym has a couple of barbell pads, I’m sure someone had to make an inquiry about them with the gym management.
Let me explain.
A few years back I was working in the fitness chain called Virgin Active.
The gym had two floors, 12 trainers, and over 10 thousand members.
Apart from the army of treadmills and ellipticals, the gym also had 3 squat racks, 3 deadlift platforms, and zero barbell pads.
(I used to bring my own when I was training my clients.)
Some gyms do provide barbell pads
In general, some gyms have barbell pads, however, it usually depends on the gym manager or personal trainers that work in there.
If the personal trainers use barbells and squat racks, chances are they will also use barbell pads with their clients.
It really boils down to who works in this gym and who uses the equipment.
If I see personal trainer who is passionate about their work and they understand the importance of strength training (and progressive overload), they will likely use barbell pads with their clients.
On the flip side, if the personal trainer is lazy and only sticks to machines with their clients, chances are you won’t see any barbell pads in this place.
Learn more: Click here to learn more about how to do deadlifts at planet fitness.
Planet Fitness does not have barbell pads, what to do?
To be frank, I don’t really use much of the barbell pads much for my workouts. However, when I work with my female clients, barbell pads were mandatory (especially for hip thrusts).
Thanks to the Bret Contreras Ph.D., a founder of the hip thrusts, more women than ever are not only hitting the gym but also working on their glutes.
Doing heavy hip thrusts and squats is so much more comfortable when you have a barbell pad.
If your planet fitness gym does not have a barbell pad you can always use an alternative like placing a towel around the bar or folding a yoga mat, depending on the exercise you do.
NOTE: Here I’ve written a short summary article where I explain how much the planet fitness bar weighs, so check it out.
Barbell pad alternative for squats in planet fitness
The easiest way to create your own barbell pad in for smith machine squats is by using the microfiber gym towel.
- Bring an extra gym towel with you (you should have one regular towel for your exercise and one towel that will become a barbell pad).
- Use a microfiber towel (they don’t take much space. Plus, cotton towels may give you comfort but they will also lift the barbell above your shoulder line).
- Choose a small size (I recommend getting a towel that is no longer than 60 inches in length and 30 inches in width. Larger towels will add more unnecessary bulk to the bar).
- Make a cushion (wrap the towel in the middle of the smith machine bar. Position the bar just between your shoulder blades and traps).
Don’t forget to take your towel with you after you finish.
Barbell pad alternative for hip thrusts in planet fitness
For me, the most comfortable way to do hip thrusts in planet fitness is by making a barbell pad from a yoga mat or workout mat and placing it on your hips.
- Take a yoga mat (You can usually find mats stacked up on the wall close to the planet fitness aerobic studio. I also use a workout mat).
- Sanitize before and after (I always take a sanitizer spray from the cleaning station and clean the mats before and after).
- Check if it’s comfy (Before doing anything, I ensure I can fold the mat. Planet fitness gyms often have a couple of different types of mats. Ensure the mat you take is flexible enough so it can be folded).
- Fold the exercise (I always fold the mat in half twice and place it on your hips. When using the hip thrusts, ensure the mat sits comfortably right where you will place the barbell).
After you finish, sanitize the again mat using the same spray from the cleaning station.
Bring your own barbell pad to the planet fitness
What can you do if your planet fitness gym does not have barbell pads? Easy, you can bring your own. Some barbell pad brands are made of high-density foam, which doesn’t take up much space.
Plus, most of the barbell pads come with other accessories like ankle straps and hip thrusts bands, and resistance bands (including travel bags).
Alternatively, you can just put the barbell pad into your gym bag with all essentials that you normally use for a workout.
Most of the planet’s fitness gym does not have barbell pad because people don’t use them. Planet Fitness members mostly use a lot of machines and they don’t use much of smith’s machine.
If the gym does not have barbell pads you can use a towel and wrap it around the bar, or take a yoga mat.
For squats, wrap the towel around the bar right in the middle. For hip thrusts, take a yoga mat or exercise mat, fold it in half, and put it on your hips before placing the smith machine barbell.