Did you hear the one about the guy from Clifton Heights, Pa., who got kicked out of his local gym for setting off the “lunk alarm”? Who better to get to the bottom of the story than Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”?
All you late-night television fans out there are probably familiar with Comedy Central’s most trusted fake news source—”The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
On a recent episode, correspondent Jason Jones made his way to Philly to interview Mark Giangiulio.
During an interview, Giangiulio told him that management at his local Planet Fitness Gym had been staring him down while he was lifting weights.
“I was like, I don’t think they like me here, but they’re not going to throw me out,” Giangiulio told Jones on the show. “Well, I was wrong. They threw me out.”
“But there had to be a good reason for a national chain with nearly 500 locations to kick him out,” Jones says during the segment.
A Planet Fitness representative comes onscreen with the answer. “He was grunting in the gym.”
The report goes on to explain how Planet Fitness has something called a “Lunk Alarm”–a siren that goes off in the gym if weightlifters are grunting too loudly or lifting too much weight.
Turns out, Giangiulio is absolutely real, and so is his story.
From the living room of his Clifton Heights row home on a recent Thursday afternoon, he recounted the now-infamous January 2010 day.
“I started to bench. And you know, you do you’re ‘MMPPPHHH’ you know, because you’re forcing the weight up. ‘GRRRRR.’ Not a scream, not a yell, just a ‘HHMMMRRR’ like you’re really pushing that weight.”
Before long, Giangiulio said, “The lunk alarm actually went off.”
Let this be a warning
At a Planet Fitness just blocks from Giangiulio’s home, the very location that kicked Giangiulio out, gym employee Kasey St. Clair said she pulls the alarm “at least once a day.”
It sounds just like a fire truck—a loud one. It also has a blue, flashing light that makes the gym look like a nightclub. All to warn weightlifters if they’re crossing the line.
“We don’t cater to those type of people,” said St. Clair. “The bodybuilders or power lifters. We’re not that kind of a gym.”
It may seem a little judgmental for a gym that bills itself the ‘no-judgment zone.’
But, said St. Clair, that doesn’t get Giangiulio off the hook.
“He knew from the get go that that was our policy. You can’t follow the rules, then we ask you to leave.”
‘Weight’ and see attitude
Back in his living room, Giangiulio admits he lifts heavy weights. His biceps bulge out from his cutoff, sleeveless sweatshirt.
But it’s not all vanity. Giangiulio is a paramedic at nearby Riddle Hospital in Media.
“In my profession, and especially with being 48 years old, you’ve got to try to stay in shape,” said Giangiulio. “I’m at the point now where I am older than some of the people that I am carrying down stairs and out of their houses. You need a lot of upper body strength.”
So, Giangiulio took his business to a gym that is known for catering to bodybuilders.
Meantime, Planet Fitness is ringing the lunk alarm across the U.S.—and getting a bad rap for being discriminatory. When “The Daily Show” started chasing the story, producers found Giangiulio through his new gym.
“How many times does someone come out and say, ‘Hey, do you want to be on national TV?'” said Giangiulio. “I’m like, what the heck?”
It took 12 hours and six crew members to film the four-minute report this summer.
“They had cameras in my dining room and cameras in my living room. it was about 95 or 96 degrees outside and we couldn’t have the air conditioner on because of background noise,” Giangiulio said. “We were just dripping. It was terrible.”
He said it was worth it to see some sort of justice for his ordeal. But he’s not one to keep a grudge.
“I will never go to Planet Fitness ever again. But they don’t know, I’m still paying a membership there. I’m paying my kid’s membership.”