The primary purposes of this study were to (a) present a conceptual framework highlighting the elements generic to all services as well as those unique to fitness services, (b) propose a scheme of conceptually distinct dimensions of quality in fitness services, (c) develop scales to measure quality in fitness services, satisfaction, and intentions to renew membership, and (d) verify if the conceptual framework was empirically supported.
Based on the systems perspective of the production and consumption of services, it was postulated that any assessment of overall quality in fitness services must include customer perceptions and reactions to the input, throughput, and output stages of service delivery process. Thus, the conceptual framework for the study included nine dimensions of quality—Service Climate, Management Commitment to Service Quality, and Programs in the input stage; Interpersonal Interaction, Task Interaction, Contact with Physical Environment, Contact with Other Clients, and Service Failures and Recovery in the throughput stage, and Perceived Service Quality in the output stage. In addition, Customer Satisfaction divided into (a) satisfaction with services and (b) satisfaction with personal involvement, and their Renewal Intentions were also included in the model.
Seventy one items were generated to measure the nine dimensions of service quality, 12 items to measure the two facets of satisfaction, and 6 items to measure
renewal intentions. The purification and confirmation of the above subscales were carried out with the data of two sets of respondents (178 members from three fitness clubs in the scale pruification stage and 354 fitness club members from five different clubs in the confirmatory stage). Item analyses (including item-to-total correlations and internal consistency estimates—Cronbach's alpha, and confirmatory factor analysis) involving the first data set resulted in a 45-item scale to measure the nine dimensions, 10 items to measure the two satisfaction facets and five items to measure renewal intentions.
Confirmatory factor analyses (LIRSEL 8) with the second data set showed fair to good fit between the data and the subscale structure of the Scale of Quality in Fitness Services (SQFS). The overall fit of the measurement model (SQFS) showed fair fit, X2 (909) = 2570.62, p < .01 (X2/df=2.83), RMSEA = .07, GFI = .75, AGFI = .72, NFI = .82, CFI = .84. The scales of clients' satisfaction and renewal intentions were also tested and confirmed using the same procedures as with SQFS.
Two structural models specifying the relationships among clients' perceptions of service quality, satisfaction, and renewal intentions—(a) perceived quality ¿ satisfaction ¿ renewal intention, and (b) satisfaction ¿ perceived quality ¿ renewal intention— were subjected to empirical verification. Results showed that model with clients' satisfaction as an intervening variable had slightly better fit (X2 (53) = 405.92, p < .01, RMSEA = .13, GFI = .82, AGFI = .74, NFI = .88, CFI = .90) than model positing service quality as a mediating variable (X2 (53) = 515.66, p < .01, RMSEA = .16, GFI = .77, AGFI = .66, NFI = .84, CFI = .86).
Finally, multivariate and univariate analyses showed that males and females differed in their perception of quality of program (F = 7.138, p < .01). Females perceived
higher quality of program than males. Gender's effect was also significant on both satisfaction with service (F = 3.87, p = .05) and satisfaction with personal involvement (F = 3.99, p < .05). Females relative to males were more satisfied with both the services and personal involvement.