Examining participatory motives clarifies what engages and keeps individuals participating in exercise. The popularity of training at fitness centres has greatly increased over the last two decades, but individual determinants for motivation remain uncertain. This study compared motives between gender and age categories in training and performing physical activity at Norwegian fitness centres. To compare motives, a survey utilising a standardised questionnaire (MPAM-R) was conducted at six different Norwegian fitness centres. It was hypothesised that the intrinsic motive socialisation and extrinsic motive fitness would be more important among the older age categories for both genders, while the extrinsic motive appearance and intrinsic motive enjoyment would be more important among younger age groups. A total response of 183 men and 150 women, aged 14-80 years, was divided into seven categories based on their age and included in the statistical analysis. The main findings after conducting a two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures, were that the most important motive for training at fitness centres was increasing fitness, followed by enjoyment, competence, vitality and appearance. The social motive was rated the lowest. Women rated fitness and enjoyment higher compared to men, and men rated the motive for appearance higher than women, but this decreased with age in both genders. With increasing age, the importance of enjoyment and competence decreased in men, while women seemed to place increased importance on vitality with age. The importance of the social motive decreased first as age increased, but then increased again in the age group 41-50 years and older. It was concluded that the motives for participating in exercise at fitness centres was dependent on individual characteristics and that motives about training at fitness centres differed by gender and changed with age.
Keywords: apparel; enjoyment; intrinsic and extrinsic motivations; strength training; vitality.