I remember the first gym I ever joined in 1984. It was a dungeon. It was dark and dank in the basement of a building with no windows and the walls painted black.

I loved that place.

It was exactly what I imagined a bodybuilding gym would be. I saw it and joined on the spot.

Today, I would never join a place like that. It no longer fits my idea of what a fitness facility would be. Of course, the odds are I'd never find that gym again. You see, not only has my idea of what a fitness facility should be changed, so has the industry's.

Today, gyms are light and bright, aesthetically pleasing, and well laid out facilities that offer more than the rusted iron that was strewn around that basement in Brooklyn.

The idea of what a fitness professional is has changed as well.

When I was training in the early to mid-‘90s, every trainer or aerobics instructor (there is something else that has changed as well) was “really something else.” It seemed that the health clubs of New York City were giving the restaurants a run for their money on employing want-to-be actors, models, musicians — and yes, journalists. Some I worked with have gone on to these professions starring on Broadway, working in music videos and film and editing magazines. Some even stayed involved in the fitness industry in one way or another; they were the exceptions.

Today though, there is a real professionalism in the industry and a career track for those that want it — and that is more the norm for today's fitness pro. There are more options for these pros too. They can work in health clubs, (which today range from 1,500-square-foot fitness-only centers to 100,000-plus-square-foot facilities offering almost everything for almost everyone), Ys, hotels, schools and universities, cruise ships, the government and more.

Wow, that's a lot of change in the 20 years that Club Industry has been around. Over the years we've changed with the industry. But, to be truthful we haven't changed nearly as much as the industry.

That's why as we look at our 21st birthday, Club Industry is about to evolve to truly reflect the total industry we serve — both in print and electronically — part of the total experience I mentioned last month.

So keep an eye on your mailboxes next month for the next evolution in the life of Club Industry, and check out the next page for a sneak peek.