No, it does not "undo" your workout.

By Lauren Mazzo
February 09, 2017

ICYMI, Planet Fitness locations give away free pizza on the first Monday of every month and free bagels on the second Tuesday of every month-that's right, a gym that gives away pizza. As wacky as it may sound, it may be responsible for the gym chain's crazy growth, according to Business Insider, and, well, they have a good reason for it:

"At Planet Fitness we believe it's realistic and okay for people to enjoy a slice of pizza every once in a while in moderation," said Brian Zehetner, director of health and fitness at Planet Fitness. "We're a Judgement Free Zone and community through and through, and we whole-heartedly believe that it's a-okay to treat yourself in moderation, especially as you're working toward your individualized health and fitness goals, whatever they might be."

But this whole free pizza business isn't new: It started back in 1998, when the hot water heaters broke in the fourth club location in Concord, NH. As a thank-you for the members' patience while the heaters were fixed, the PF team ordered pizza for everyone on-site. Needless to say, it was a hit (hello, it is free pizza) so they spread the cheesy-pizza love to all locations as a once-a-month treat. Now, each club serves an average of 5,500 slices per year. (What wasn't a hit at PF: catcalling in the gym. Not cool.)

Like the Planet Fitness Lunk Alarm (which essentially goes off when people are getting too aggressively fit, intimidating, or disruptive), the free pizza and bagels make it pretty difficult to be a fitness-obsessed human trying to get their workout on. (Just imagine walking into a gym that smells like cheesy, saucy goodness.) On the flip side, it does make a whole lot of people (who might otherwise steer clear of the gym) feel more comfortable sweating in a supportive, snack-providing environment-even if it is a little contrary to weight-loss goals. (That's why they're also supporting anti-bully orgs.)

So this whole free pizza thing is to foster a little #treatyoself vibe at the gym-we can def get behind that. But whether or not you're a PF member who's tempted with the smell of melty cheese mid-workout, it begs the question: does eating pizza post-workout undo the spin class, strength sesh, or long run you just did?

Abso-effing-lutely not.

While at its core, the simple equation for weight loss is calories out > calories in, that doesn't mean that your health is as elementary as adding and subtracting. If you go crush a heavy lifting workout, noshing on pizza afterward isn't going to nix the strength gains you just made. Ditto for improving your endurance during a run or aerobic exercise class, or getting more flexible during yoga. (And, for real, you need "cheat days.")

Yeah, it's not as healthy as a protein shake or feeding on clean whole foods to fill your post-workout nutrition needs. But that doesn't mean you're undoing anything-even if the calories you just ate in pizza equal more than the calories you burned on the elliptical while watching Friends. We repeat: YOU CAN'T 'UNDO' A WORKOUT.

"When you train hard, it's only natural to reward yourself from time to time, even if that means post-workout pizza," says Sarah Mattison Berndt, M.S., R.D., nutrition advisor for Complete Nutrition. "Although a savory slice provides extra calories and isn't the cleanest recovery fuel, noshing on pizza isn't going to nullify all of your hard work if you aren't doing it all the time. In fact, it may help you to feel more satisfied and ditch feelings of deprivation that could otherwise build up to a blow-out."

"Health is all about balance and the big picture," she says. "Staying active and enjoying your favorite foods in moderation can boost motivation and support a healthier and happier you!" (However, that doesn't change the fact that diet is the most important factor for weight loss.)

If Planet Fitness wants to bring people together with a "non-intimidating, welcoming environment" that happens to include pizza, they should feel free to do so. After all, literally nothing brings people together more than free food.

Comments (8)

December 15, 2020
LOL "What wasn't a hit at PF: catcalling in the gym. Not cool." What else do you expect from the Walmart of gyms? Cracks me up when people complain about the cheapest gym ever established. Imagine going to Walmart, buying the cheapest item, and complaining about it. Noob.
December 21, 2019
It is proven that "cheat days" are required to prevent the body from going into starvation mode and store all your calories in unwanted fat. Since MODERATION is the key to successfully lose weight and keep it off, this practice reminds beginner to advanced fitness levels to take a cheat day every once in a while. Since planet fitness ONLY does 2 cheat meals in an entire month; pizza at night for evening exercisers and bagels in the morning for morning exercisers; there is absolutely no way this would impede anyone's progress in their fitness goals. The first 4 years of my fitness journey at Planet Fitness put me in the best shape of my life at the age of 36. Size 0-2 115lbs 5'4" and 18% body fat. I NEVER missed my 1 day a week cheat day and maintained healthy eating the rest of the week. Now after back surgery, at 41 I came back to Planet Fitness where the positive, encouraging, judgement free zone cheers me on as I begin my journey again to reclaim my fitness after surgery. Anyone who mocks the science behind "cheat days" has clearly not done their research. Thank you for this well written, well thought out and entertaining, article!
April 10, 2019
How did you come up with that number ?
January 13, 2019
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November 3, 2018
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October 27, 2018
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April 7, 2017
This article contains no useful information or science to back up this opinion. Using a quote from a nutrition adviser that includes "noshing" is very professional. I could see an uniformed first time gym goer read this article and absorb that it is ok to eat pizza whatever their goals may be. There is no mention to how often, based on your diet, it is ok to have a cheat meal and no mention of the effect it would have on a person's diet and metabolism. Is this native advertising funded by Planet Fitness or is it just clickbait?
March 24, 2017
What time on that first Monday of the month does the pizza start showing up? I'm thinking about joining the first of April in hopes of getting a better sign up deal than the $20.oo sign up fee plus $19.99 a month and then 30 days later have to pay another $30.00 annual membership fee! Maybe even waiting until May 1st and paying the annual membership fee no possibly an even lower joining fee plus the $19.95 a month fee TIMES two since it will be one for myself and one for my wife. Which would actually be $40.00 joining fee, $39.90 a month membership fee, PLUS on May 1st the annual membership fee for two of $60.00! So a total of $179.80 in less than a month and half if we join on 3/25/17 or possibly $99.90 plus a lower joining fee on May 1st? Huummm???