Accessibility of health clubs for people with mobility disabilities and visual impairments.

OBJECTIVE: We sought to examine the accessibility of health clubs to persons with mobility disabilities and visual impairments.

METHODS: We assessed 35 health clubs and fitness facilities as part of a national field trial of a new instrument, Accessibility Instruments Measuring Fitness and Recreation Environments (AIMFREE), designed to assess accessibility of fitness facilities in the following domains: (1) built environment, (2) equipment, (3) swimming pools, (4) information, (5) facility policies, and (6) professional behavior.

RESULTS: All facilities had a low to moderate level of accessibility. Some of the deficiencies concerned specific Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines pertaining to the built environment, whereas other deficiency areas were related to aspects of the facilities’ equipment, information, policies, and professional staff.

CONCLUSIONS: Persons with mobility disabilities and visual impairments have difficulty accessing various areas of fitness facilities and health clubs. AIMFREE is an important tool for increasing awareness of these accessibility barriers for people with disabilities.