It’s no secret that Americans love to work out. People in the United States made over 6 billion trips to the gym in 2018, while the U.S. health and fitness industry is valued at roughly $30 billion and counting. But aside from scouting out a fitness club’s dumbbell selection or group training classes, gymgoers are best advised to pay attention to cleanliness when they sign up for their memberships. A number of infections and diseases can be contracted at your local fitness club, from a minor foot fungus to something as serious as a staph infection.
For that reason, we analyzed thousands of data points from Yelp’s Fusion API to learn which portions of the U.S. have the cleanest and dirtiest gyms. Not only does our analysis suggest that Americans are certainly paying attention to whether their gym is being kept clean, but also our results can help gymgoers across the nation figure out whether they need to exercise extra caution in their area.
Keep scrolling to see which states are known for their clean fitness clubs.
Thousands of Americans have logged reviews on Yelp to report the cleanliness of their local gyms. Here’s the good news: Nearly five times more reviews recounted the cleanliness of their gym than tales of poor hygiene. In other words, it’s possible that people were more likely to review their gym when they were satisfied by its hygiene, which more or less refutes the idea that reviews are driven by angry keyboard warriors.
Only a few hundred reviews used words like “filth,” “smelly,” “gross,” and “dirty” to describe their gyms. Meanwhile, gyms with positive words in their reviews, such as “well-maintained” and “clean,” had higher ratings than those with negative keywords, on average. The average rating for a “well-maintained” gym, for instance, was 4.4 stars. That’s a far cry from the average 1.7 stars used for gyms described as “dirty.”
Gyms Across Geography
Where are the least clean gyms located in the U.S.? Interestingly, health clubs in states located in the colder climes, such as New York, Connecticut, and Minnesota, had the worst-rated hygiene. Meanwhile, Southern and Midwestern states, such as North Carolina, Arkansas, Ohio, and Wisconsin, tended to have more hygienic gyms. Residents of Louisiana, in particular, would be happy to know their state had the highest-rated gyms when it came to cleanliness, according to our analysis.
Zoning In at the Gym
Those concerned with hygiene still might want to work out at their local gym, despite lackluster cleanliness ratings. In that case, which parts of the gym do people tend to pay attention to when they’re concerned with sanitation, and which are the most likely to be associated with words like “dirty”?
Our analysis suggests that studios, courts, and free weight sections are seen as the most hygienic, followed by exercise machines and the front desk. Meanwhile, reviews that included the word “clean” or “dirty” were both more likely to mention exercise machines, locker rooms, and bathrooms, suggesting these are the hot spots that concern most gymgoers. In particular, reviews referencing bathroom hygiene had a lower average rating than those mentioning locker room hygiene.
Best and Brightest Gyms
People living in the U.S. frequented nearly 40,000 gyms in 2018, with specific chains often attracting memberships by the thousands. But which gyms are the cleanest, according to online reviewers? We found that CrossFit gyms were the highest-rated, on average, followed by Anytime Fitness, Planet Fitness, YMCA, and Snap Fitness. All of these chains had an average rating of 3.9 or higher among reviewers whose reviews involved hygiene.
Among gyms with at least 50 hygiene-related reviews to analyze, 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness, and Gold’s Gym had the lowest ratings, although they still tended to teeter around 3 stars.
Happy Health Clubs
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that American adults spend at least 2.5 hours a week doing moderate-intensity exercises. While that could mean a walk or a jog outdoors, millions of Americans are hitting the gym instead.
Our analysis of Yelp review data suggests that gymgoers are paying attention to the cleanliness of their chosen fitness clubs, and they’re reporting that information back to the masses. Using this data, we were able to see that people were more likely to use positive words in their reviews about gym hygiene rather than negative ones and that certain regions have higher ratings when it comes to gym cleanliness.
This information can certainly help gymgoers stay safe while exercising by choosing the right gym. Certainly, choosing the right equipment is also an important part of achieving peak fitness and improving one’s lifestyle. Visit FitRated.com to learn more about the best-rated exercise equipment in the country and read reviews on all kinds of gear.
All rating and review data were obtained through the Yelp Fusion API. The list of gym locations used was acquired via the business search endpoint. To create a sufficiently comprehensive list, the coordinates of 809 cities in the U.S. (latlong.net/category/cities-236-15.html) were used to gather the IDs of any gym that was open for business and fell within Yelp’s default “nearby” parameter. Also obtained through the business search endpoint were business name, the number of reviews, the overall rating, and location details (city, state, latitude, and longitude). All location data appearing in the graphics above reflect the location information provided by Yelp.
After the gym IDs were deduplicated, 15,792 unique locations remained. The unique IDs were then used to obtain the text bodies of up to three reviews per location, as well as the star rating accompanying those reviews, via the Yelp Fusion API’s reviews endpoint.
Text analysis was conducted using custom programs that ran a list of keywords through the review text. Reviews were considered “hygiene-related” if they contained any derivative of the following terms: “clean,” “dirt,” “smell,” “stink,” “filth,” “stench,” “hygiene,” or “gross.” Any analysis of “hygiene-related” reviews was conducted only on reviews containing those phrases. Sentiment analysis was conducted using the default configuration of the node.js module located here: npmjs.com/package/sentiment.
Yelp Fusion API’s reviews endpoint returns a maximum of three reviews per location, and the three that are returned are chosen by Yelp’s sorting algorithm. Furthermore, the reviews returned were limited to approximately 150 characters. Any portion of the review text beyond that limit was not available for analysis.
Although every effort was made to ensure the correct and complete interpretation of all reviews analyzed, any text analysis is subject to such statistical difficulties as the spurious inclusion of impertinent words or phrases, the unintended exclusion of pertinent words or phrases, and the misinterpretation of meaning, tone, or intent. As such, this content is purely exploratory and for entertainment purposes only.
Fair Use Statement
Interested in finding a clean gym or avoiding a dirty one? We encourage you to share this information with friends, family, and other gymgoers for any noncommercial use. Just please be sure to link back to this study.