Health club
A health club is a place which houses exercise equipment
Exercise machine
An exercise machine is any machine used for physical exercise. These range from simple spring-like devices to computerized electromechanical rides to recirculating-stream swimming pools...

 for the purpose of physical exercise
Physical exercise
Physical exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It is performed for various reasons including strengthening muscles and the cardiovascular system, honing athletic skills, weight loss or maintenance, as well as for the purpose of...


Main workout area

Most health clubs have a main workout area, which primarily consists of free weights
Weight training
Weight training is a common type of strength training for developing the strength and size of skeletal muscles. It uses the weight force of gravity to oppose the force generated by muscle through concentric or eccentric contraction...

 including dumbbells, barbell
A barbell is a piece of exercise equipment used in weight training, weightlifting and powerlifting. Barbells range in length from to although bars above 7' in length are used primarily by powerlifters and aren't commonplace...

s and exercise machines. This area often includes mirrors so that exercisers can monitor and maintain correct posture during their workout.

A gym which predominately or exclusively consists of free weights (dumbbells and barbells), as opposed to exercise machines, is sometimes referred to as a , after the traditional color of weight plates.

Cardio area/Theatre

A cardio theater or cardio area includes many types of cardiovascular
Aerobic exercise
Aerobic exercise is physical exercise of relatively low intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process. Aerobic literally means "living in air", and refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism...

 training-related equipment such as rowing machines, stationary exercise bikes
Exercise bicycle
An exercise bicycle or bike, or stationary bicycle, or Exercycle is a device with saddle, pedals, and some form of handlebars arranged as on a bicycle, but used as exercise equipment rather than transportation...

, elliptical trainer
Elliptical trainer
An elliptical trainer or cross-trainer is a stationary exercise machine used to simulate stair climbing, walking, or running without causing excessive pressure to the joints, hence decreasing the risk of impact injuries...

s and treadmill
A treadmill is an exercise machine for running or walking while staying in one place. The word treadmill traditionally refers to a type of mill which was operated by a person or animal treading steps of a wheel to grind grain...

s. These areas often include a number of audio-visual displays (either integrated into the equipment, or placed on walls around the area itself) in order to keep exercisers entertained during long cardio workout sessions.

Group exercise classes

Most newer health clubs offer group exercise classes that are conducted by qualified fitness instructors. Many types of group exercise classes exist, but generally these include classes based on aerobics
Aerobics is a form of physical exercise that combines rhythmic aerobic exercise with stretching and strength training routines with the goal of improving all elements of fitness...

, cycling (spin cycle), boxing, high intensity training
High intensity training
High Intensity Training is a form of strength training popularized in the 1970s by Arthur Jones, the founder of Nautilus. The training focuses on performing quality weightlifting repetitions to the point of momentary muscular failure...

, regular and hot (Bikram) yoga, pilates and muscle training. Health clubs with swimming pools often offer aqua aerobics classes.

Sports facilities

Some health clubs offer sports facilities such as a swimming pool
Swimming pool
A swimming pool, swimming bath, wading pool, or simply a pool, is a container filled with water intended for swimming or water-based recreation. There are many standard sizes; the largest is the Olympic-size swimming pool...

s, squash
Squash (sport)
Squash is a high-speed racquet sport played by two players in a four-walled court with a small, hollow rubber ball...

 courts or boxing areas. In some cases, additional fees are charged for the use of these facilities.

Personal training

Most health clubs employ personal trainers who are accessible to members for training/fitness/nutrition/health advice and consultation. Personal trainers can devise a customized fitness routine, sometimes including a nutrition plan, to help clients achieve their goals. They can also monitor and train with members. More often than not, access to personal trainers involves an additional hourly fee.

Other services

Newer health clubs generally include health-shops, snack bars, restaurants, child-care facilities, member lounges and cafes. It is not unusual for a sauna
A sauna is a small room or house designed as a place to experience dry or wet heat sessions, or an establishment with one or more of these and auxiliary facilities....

, steam shower
Steam shower
A steam shower is a type of bathing where a humidifying steam generator produces water vapor that is dispersed around a person's body. A steam shower is essentially a steam room that offers the typical features of a bathroom shower...

, or wellness areas
Wellness (alternative medicine)
Wellness is generally used to mean a healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit that results in an overall feeling of well-being. It has been used in the context of alternative medicine since Halbert L. Dunn, M.D., began using the phrase high level wellness in the 1950s...

 to be present. Health clubs generally charge a fee to allow visitors to use the equipment, courses, and other provided services.

Levels of services and offerings

Health clubs offer a wide array of services, and as a result the monthly membership prices can vary greatly. A recent study of American clubs found that the monthly cost of membership ranged from US$15 per month at basic chain clubs that offer limited amenities to over US$200 per month at spa-oriented clubs that cater to families and to those seeking social activities in addition to a workout . In addition, some clubs - such as many local YMCAs - offer per-use punchcards or one-time fees for those seeking to use the club on an as-needed basis.

Costs can vary through the purchase of a higher-level membership, such as a Founders or a Life membership. Such memberships often have a high up-front cost but a lower monthly rate, making them potentially beneficial to those who use the club frequently and hold their memberships for years.


An early public gymnasium started in Paris (France) in 1847.
But Scott Roberts traces the history of health clubs for the general public to 1947 in Santa Monica, California.

See also

  • Anytime Fitness
    Anytime Fitness
    Anytime Fitness is a health and fitness club founded in 2002. Their 1000th club opened in February 2009 and they currently have over 1600 clubs worldwide. Anytime Fitness clubs are currently open in USA, Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Poland...

  • Celebrity Fitness
    Celebrity Fitness
    Celebrity Fitness is one of Asia's largest health and fitness club operators, by number of clubs and members. Celebrity Fitness currently has 27 clubs in 3 different countries, and operates three different gym brands: Celebrity Fitness, Celebrity Fitness Express, and Celebrity Fitness VIP...

  • American Family Fitness
    American Family Fitness
    American Family Fitness is a Richmond, VA-based chain of fitness clubs, operated by Richmond Fitness, Inc. It has been in business since 1988, and claims 1,050 employees and a revenue of over $7 million annually...

  • Gold's Gym
    Gold's Gym
    Gold's Gym International, Inc. is an international chain of co-ed fitness centers originally started in California by Joe Gold. Each gym features a wide array of exercise equipment, group exercise classes and personal trainers to assist clients...

  • YMCA
    The Young Men's Christian Association is a worldwide organization of more than 45 million members from 125 national federations affiliated through the World Alliance of YMCAs...

  • Fitness Dynamics
  • Virgin Active
    Virgin Active
    Virgin Active is a chain of health clubs in South Africa, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia and the United Kingdom. The company launched in 1998 in Preston, Lancashire as part of Richard Branson's Virgin Group....

Literary/cultural references

  • In Richard Russo
    Richard Russo
    Richard Russo is an American novelist, short story writer, screenwriter, and teacher.-Early life and education:Russo was born in Johnstown, New York, and raised in nearby Gloversville...

    's Pulitzer Prize
    Pulitzer Prize
    The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

    -winning 2001 novel Empire Falls
    Empire Falls
    Empire Falls is a two-part mini-series that aired on HBO in 2005. It was based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name which was written by Richard Russo. It was nominated for and won multiple awards, including various Emmys and Golden Globes...

    and the Golden Globe- and Emmy-award-winning 2005 HBO mini-series made from it, central character Miles Roby's ex-wife Janine (Helen Hunt
    Helen Hunt
    Helen Elizabeth Hunt is an American actress, film director, and screenwriter. She starred in the sitcom Mad About You for seven years, before being cast in the romantic comedy As Good as It Gets...

    ) goes out with the owner of a local fitness center, Walt Comeau (Dennis Farina
    Dennis Farina
    Dennis Farina is an American actor of film and television and former Chicago police officer. He is a character actor, often typecast as a mobster or police officer. His most known film roles are those of mobster Jimmy Serrano in the comedy Midnight Run and Ray "Bones" Barboni in Get Shorty...

  • In Jay McInerney
    Jay McInerney
    John Barrett McInerney Jr. is an American writer. His novels include Bright Lights, Big City; Ransom; Story of My Life; Brightness Falls; and The Last of the Savages...

    's short story "Con Doctor," in which the title doctor's lady friend, "a recovering alcoholic, brassy and voluptuous ... looked like someone who would be dating a pro athlete, or a guy with a new Ferrari who owned a chain of fitness centers".

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.