Diversity in the fitness industry : a cross-case comparison /
Hawes, D. E.
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This cross-case study explored the extent to which two fitness facilities were accommodating diversity with respect to age, ethnicity, gender, social class, sex-role socialization, and persons with a disability among both members and staflf. The sites were purposely chosen in a large city and a smaller city in order to provide as representative an example as possible of health clubs within a small sample population. The interview participants were selected by a combination of stratified, typical case, and snowball sampling strategies. . , .. , The intent of the exploration was a two-fold examination of diversity issues within both the membership and the staff of the organization. Data were collected and analysis was done using a triangulation method involving personal interviews, observations, and facility documentation. The results ofthe study showed that the members and staff at each facility were rather homogeneous in ethnicity, age, social class, physical ability, and physical appearance. From a membership standpoint, the environment of the sites presented the impression of being affordable only to the middle- and upper-middle classes, unwelcoming to the older, less fit, or overweight participant, economically exclusive for youth, and nonaccommodating for people with a disability. With respect to staff, the findings indicated that the fitness facilities purported to be team-oriented in theory, but were hierarchical in practice, with the major decision making being made by the male executives. The paper concludes with the recommendation that students must be given a practical toolkit for dealing with these issues in their postsecondary courses.