Gymnasiums, Health Clubs and Obesity are on the Rise

The Number of NYC Gyms Have Increased 124 % In Seven Years

Despite gymnasiums and health clubs popping up all around the city, obesity for adults is at an all time high. In the seven-year span after the financial crisis of 2008, the fitness industry has done well for itself.

But only select groups of New Yorkers are seeing the benefit of easy access to indoor exercise. Twenty-seven percent of adults in New York City are obese, up from nine percent in 1990. The Department of Health is working to reverse this trend by offering targeted free access to exercise classes sponsored by managed care companies.

“There are many more health clubs located downtown then there are in Flatbush, Bed-stuy or East New York, in the communities that are more impacted by health issues, that would actually be helped by exercise,” said Dr. Pamela Stracker, director of operations at Brooklyn Health Disparities Center. “

Last month the City released comprehensive health profiles for individual community districts and analyzed obesity rates, life expectancy and fitness.

Not surprisingly, the community districts of Clinton and Chelsea and Midtown report that 90 percent of its residents have exercised in the past thirty days, ranking the highest of any community districts. These residents enjoy easy access to Central Park, the West Side Highway running path and the highest concentration of gyms in the city. On the other end of the spectrum is East New York where 73 percent of residents say they had exercised in the past thirty days. Life expectancy for these residents is four years fewer than residents living in Clinton and Chelsea.

“The Department [of Health] is having meetings to discuss this issues,” said Dr. Stracker. The main focus is improving areas that don’t typically have access to exercise. This is being done in part by constructing bike lanes and pushing for an increased number of free exercise classes at community centers.

“Obviously, in these communities it is not necessarily about providing activities that would cost people money,” said Stracker.