No girls allowed. That's the latest trend in the health club industry. Men-only gyms are sprouting up across the nation, many in the form of Cuts Fitness for Men. Cuts was founded in May 2003 by John Gennaro, a 10-year veteran of the health club industry.
Gennaro captured his idea from the ever-popular Curves, a women's-only gym that focuses on a circuit-style workout. He says the success of Curves prompted him to capitalize on the opportunity for men as well. Cuts focuses on this same type of workout through its Body Cuts system, a full body circuit training workout that firms muscles, improves cardiovascular strength and decreases body fat — all in 30 minutes.
There are varying reasons that men are drawn to this style of workout, but Gennaro feels the biggest one is the time factor. He says that most members are normally within a 10- to 15-minute driving distance from the facility, which makes it user friendly, allowing the members to get a workout in under an hour, including driving time to and from the gym.
For men, the reason for single-sex facilities is different than for women who prefer women-only facilities.
“This is allowing men to do something that they have never been able to do before — to feel comfortable in their own environment,” says Gennaro. “The majority of men do not work out because they are intimidated by the equipment at normal gyms because they often don't know how to use it.”
Bill Howland, director of public relations for the International Health and Racquet Sportsclub Association, agrees with Gennaro that people that haven't been working out can be intimidated by the big health club environment. In a 2002 commissioned national consumer poll taken by IHRSA, 43 percent of the men surveyed would prefer to have an all-male environment if given the choice.
According to Howland, IHRSA supports the idea of single-sex facilities because they provide privacy and a sense of security that helps people to exercise. However, he is cautious about the success of men-only gyms because of possible legal ramifications.
“From the consumer standpoint, sure, it is a good idea,” said Howland. “Good idea or not, a state court system may rule that it is discriminatory, therefore making it a mute point.”
Concerns about legality stem from the considerable amount of time, effort and money that went into passing laws allowing women-only health clubs.
“Seeing what went into the effort of passing laws for single sex health clubs in Massachusetts alone, where IHRSA is headquartered, the business operators thinking about opening a male-only club need to understand there is a significant commitment when having laws drafted and passed on an issue,” said Howland.
After thoroughly discussing the issue with his lawyers, Gennaro is not concerned with legal problems that faced the women-only facilities. And although no women have attempted to join Cuts, Gennaro said they would be more than welcome to do so.
“The problem is that the machines are geared differently, they are specifically for men's use,” says Gennaro. “However, if there were women that were more advanced athletes, then they could very well handle it and would be welcome.”