The popularity of 'The Gym' is due largely to the socializing that takes place there, according to a study.
People visit gym not only for keeping fit and losing weight but also for meeting new people and prospective life mates.
Nick Crossley, a Professor of Social Sciences from the University of Manchester, spent three years questioning gym members to find out the aspects motivating them to join health clubs. He wanted to study the reasons for the boom in gym membership.
An estimated seven million people have joined gyms or health clubs in the UK, which is double the number of regular churchgoers.
He said: "Gyms are almost as popular as trade union membership at 16% of the population, double that of church or religious membership - at seven per cent - and more than four times greater than membership of environmental, animal rights or women's groups at 3% each."
"My research has shown that its popularity reflects the fact that going to your gym is more than an effort to lose some weight.
"Many people are unhappy about their weight but do not join a gym. But on the other hand, many young slim, fit and healthy people do."
He concluded that friendships, socializing at the club and a feeling of well being were all important aspects that motivates people to join health clubs.
"I wouldn't be surprised if there's a whole group of people who have met their wives and partner at the gym," he said.