Public defence of doctoral thesis | Fitness clubs: A venue for public health? | Christina Gjestvang, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, February 17, 2022


On Thursday, February 17, 2022, at 10:15 CET, Christina Gjestvang will present and defend her dissertation Fitness clubs: A venue for public health? at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences (NIH), live-streamed.

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.

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 with appearance 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.

Review Committee

The review committee consists of May Arna Risberg – professor, Department of Sports Medicine, NIH – chair; Elling Tufte Bere – professor, University of Agder (UiA) – 1st opponent; Karl Andreas Stenling – University lecturer, Umeå University, Sweden – 2nd opponent.



10:15–11:00 Trial lecture
: “What are the best public health strategies to increase levels of physical activity in Norway”?

13:00–16:00 Public defence: “Fitnes clubs. A venue for public health?”

General Information

The defence is open to the public as far as the corona regulations allows it. The defence will also be streamed on YouTube (direct link will be available when the event starts)


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