Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Marketing and Logistics

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Leadership, School Counseling & Sports Management

First Advisor

Dr. Linda Skrla

Second Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Kane

Third Advisor

Dr. Kim Cheek

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Jay Coleman

Department Chair

Dr. David Hoppey

College Dean

Dr. Diane Yendol-Hoppey


Of the 3.5 million first-time in college, full time students who began college in fall 2017, 74% returned for fall 2018, with 61.7% retained at their starting institution. Covid-19 has negatively impacted retention; in addition to normal attrition, one of every five students did not return to campus in fall 2020. Researchers have gauged both academic and social factors that positively influence retention and note the use of the campus fitness center (CFC) as one social factor; however, women are less likely to use the CFC, are one third as likely to exercise, and experience more numerous fitness obstacles and fewer fitness motivators compared to men. Women adjust less well to college than men, a situation which the CFC’s contributions to a sense of belonging and social benefits can mitigate. While research identifies overall best practices for CFCs, knowledge about CFC best practices with respect to women, which align with women’s needs for belonging and social benefits, is limited. Thus, the purpose of this qualitative exploratory multiple case study was to identify and analyze fitness areas on college campuses that deliver women-focused fitness that aligns with women’s needs for belonging and social benefits. The information derived from this study was used to create an initial framework for women-focused fitness areas. From this work, institutions of higher education can learn how to design and implement such areas to motivate women to use the CFC and potentially improve their retention.