Is There an App to Track That? The Effect of Mobile Devices on the Culture of Fitness Centres

Susan Dun, James Brandner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The fitness industry, at least in Western society (USA, Canada, UK and Canada), is worth billions of dollars. Commercial fitness centres, community health centres and corporate wellness programs at both profit and non-profit levels exist to satisfy this massive market. Generally, these fitness centres market themselves as a fun place where you can meet people and simultaneously obtain health benefits, but the core product that is being sold is an overall and enjoyable fitness experience. Successful centres develop social capital in a way that nurtures the fitness experience. Historically, fitness centre cultures have been part of their members’ offline lives. But with the recent explosion of fitness apps that track activity, help with diet management and provide motivation, along with the well documented ubiquity of social media, online lives are entering fitness centres. What happens when you add technology like mobile devices and their applications to the fitness centre experience? Does the intrusion of the online into the offline enhance or detract from the unique culture of fitness centres? Does the disconnection from the physical activity and the face-to-face relationships that is caused by the use of mobile devices during personal training sessions, group fitness classes and individual workouts detract from fitness centre culture, or does connection to members’ online networks and lives produce a further enhanced and enjoyable fitness experience? We utilised the survey method to investigate these questions in a fitness centre located in Melbourne, Australia. Our initial results suggest that while the intrusion of the online into the fitness centre detracts from what some would consider to be pillars of fitness centre experiences for some users, the unique intersection of online and offline lives is creating a new, blended culture that enhances the fitness experience for other users. Fitness centres can capitalise on these uses to develop social capital and compete in a crowded marketplace.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAll the World's a Stage
Subtitle of host publicationTheorizing and Producing Blended Identities in a Cybercultural World
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9789004404205
ISBN (Print)9789004370708
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Communication
  • Fitness centres
  • Health and wellness
  • Mobile devices and social media
  • Organisational culture
  • Social capital
  • Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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