Age, gender, and fitness club membership: Factors related to initial involvement and sustained participation

Sean P. Mullen, Diane E. Whaley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study examined individual and contextual factors that contribute to initial involvement and sustained participation in fitness club membership across age and gender. A web-based survey (N = 326) revealed the top participation motives were health and functioning and appearance, while factors facilitating commitment were seeing physical changes and feeling in control. Significant age and gender differences were found across variables. Appearance-related issues were more critical for young and middle-aged adults and more important for women than men. Feeling in control was most important to middle-aged adults and rated more important to women than men. In general, older adults placed less importance on qualities of the fitness club (convenience, extra amenities, and time-related factors) than their younger peers, and women rated these qualities to be more important than men. Implications for individuals belonging to a fitness club and for those operating such a facility are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-35
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes



  • Developmental differences
  • Retention
  • Structured exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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