Defence: Fitness clubs. A venue for public health?

A fitness club membership may contribute to increased physical activity. Yet, the dropout rates are high (40-65 percent) and research in this field is limited. Thus, it is important to gain in-depth knowledge regarding why only some manage to exercise regularly in such establishments.



February 17






This is essential for successful physical activity (PA) promotion and to enhance public health. Christina Gjestvang’s PhD-project aimed to gain an increased understanding of those individuals who choose to join a fitness club, and are able to stay active, and continue with, regular exercise in a group of novice exercisers in their first year of a fitness club membership.

  • Christina Gjestvang is a PhD student at the Department of Sports Medicine at NIH.
  • February 17th she will defend her dissertation:
    "Fitness clubs. A venue for public health?"
  • READ more about the project

A total of 250 members (less than 4 weeks of membership) classified as novice exercisers (structured exercise less than 1 hour/week the last six months) from 25 SATS fitness clubs participated in this 12 months prospective study with four follow-ups.
All participants responded to an electronic questionnaire, including body image, motives and barriers, self-efficacy, social support, life satisfaction, exercise attendance, and customer satisfaction.
Half of the participants (n = 125) underwent measures of psysical activity (PA) level (two follow-ups), body composition, maximal oxygen uptake, and maximal muscle strength (three follow-ups).


A fitness club membership was not associated with increase in total physical activity level or numbers meeting the physical activity recommendations. Regular exercise attendance was associated with a better body image and satisfaction withappearance and different body areas, “enjoyment” and “challenge”, self-efficacy “sticking to it”, and social support from family/friends.

Most new members used the fitness club intermittently and did not achieve regular exercise behavior.

With only 17% exercising two days or more weekly across the first year of membership, there is a need to develop strategies to improve exercise attendance among novice exercisers.





10:15-11:00 - Trial lecture

Subject is normally published two weeks ahead of the defence

13:00-16:00 - Public defence
"Fitnes clubs. A venue for public health?"

The hours are preliminary

General information

The defence is open to the public as far as the corona regulations allows it.


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