Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Dr. Don Morrow


Objective: The purpose of this study was to gain in depth knowledge on the perceived facilitators, barriers, and health benefits of sustaining a membership in a commercial fitness facility (CFF) amongst active and less active adult women between the ages 35 – 55.

Method: This qualitative focus group study segmented participants into those who met Canada’s physical activity (PA) guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous PA and those who do not. Inductive analysis of the focus group data was carried out after deductively creating codes. Measures were incorporated throughout the study to ensure data trustworthiness.

Results: The analysis led to the creation of barrier-related themes. Less active women desired a more welcoming and friendly staff and environment, and wanted more support to facilitate sustained membership, than did active women. Active women had one less barrier than less active women. Less active women perceived there was a lack of support and programs for their current ability level, and active participants seldom mentioned this barrier. Both groups shared similar perceived health benefits to the CFF membership in comparison to other forms of exercise and venues for PA, and the active women cited one additional benefit than did the less active women.

Conclusions: Health was an important facilitator and benefit to using a CFF membership for the women of this study. Less active women identified that the CFF environment needs to be more supportive and welcoming in order to minimize barriers and facilitate membership. A less intimidating environment and more access to professional support without additional cost would make the CFF space more favourable for the women of this study. Recommendations from the findings of the current study are presented and directions for further research are provided.