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Gymtopia. A place where clubs do social good

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A young girl from the Belo region of Ethiopia is smiling. She is dressed in a long olive coloured dress and standing next to a mud wall which creates a lovely contrast – Gymtopia.org

Creating a sustainable community in Ethiopia Sasiga Lowlands, Ethiopia

Since Fifth Avenue Club opened in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1996, it has developed a local reputation for setting the standard for “friendly, personalized service”. On the other side of the world in Ethiopia, it has become known for supporting a sustainable development project that has changed the lives of over 40,000 people, in nine villages, in the Belo region of Ethiopia. The club, owned by Darren Kanwischer, has been involved with Food for the Hungry (FH) since June of 2007. Three dollars of each member’s dues are donated to Belo each month. Fifth Avenue Club has also donated proceeds from the sale of old equipment, held a 10k fundraising run (“Run for Belo”),  had members fund raise among themselves and are currently involved with “Run for Water” in Calgary, Alberta.


Two girls aged around 12 taking part in Fitspiration (Healthy Inspiration meets Perspiration!) a physical activity programme for kids aged 5-12 from the Boston neighborhoods

Improving health for obese youth in disadvantaged Boston neighborhoods Boston , Massachusetts, USA

Healthworks Community Fitness (HCF) is seeking the generous support of Gymtopia for a dynamic and innovative program dedicated to youth wellness. Fitspiration (Healthy Inspiration meets Perspiration!) empowers youth ages 5-12 from the Boston neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan to take charge of their own health and wellness through a structured, medical-based fun afterschool program. Fitspiration meets 3 days per week, for one hour per age group, 180 minutes of physical fitness per week. Youth are engaged in a progressive fitness training class for a duration of 6 weeks, where many re-enroll throughout the year. Evaluation through pre/post tests show an increase in physical fitness and endurance in addition to a better understanding of nutrition, healthy eating and decision making.

by Healthworks Community Fitness


Adult special needs group exercise class underway at the Franco's health and fitness club in Louisiana

Franco’s – The remarkable health club that never says no Mandeville, Louisiana, USA

This is the story of how Franco’s Athletic Club located in the American state of Louisiana is using generosity to become one of the world’s most admired health clubs. It is written by Ray Algar, founder of Gymtopia.

I first met Sandy Franco, one of the co-owners, when she was presenting at the 2013 IHRSA European Congress in Madrid. Her message was a simple one: Invest in your community and the community will invest in your club. Sandy and Ron, her husband, have consistently pursued this strategy for 26 years.


Beautiful image of a young boy and girl (possibly brother and sister) with big smiles

Supporting African children through sponsorship and fund raising Primarily Uganda, the majority of the children live in the village of Kisoro

Each of our health clubs and spas sponsor a child through the Compassion Charity’s sponsorship programme. Compassion UK is a Christian Charity which helps children aged between 3 years and 22 years break free from the cycle of poverty. We currently sponsor 30 children and this funding helps with education, health care, hygiene training and the provision of food. In addition, our clubs and spas fund raise for the communities where our sponsored children live. We have provided financial support of more than £100,000 over a nine year period as well as the time of our staff teams. In 2006, three of our staff team visited Uganda for four days to meet some of our sponsored children and to see a play area in their community which our staff and customers had raised funds for.

by Fitness Express Health Clubs & Imagine Spas