Gym / Fitness centre

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A Gym / Fitness centre. A place with exercise machines and/or fitness/dance classes. It's a place to go for exercise (to "work out" as they say in the US) Otherwise known as a health club, or fitness club

This page is about how to map a "fitness centre". As described below these things are actually more commonly called "gym", but here we are describing gym as in fitness centre not the other meaning of gym as in gymnasium.

What's the tag?

Sadly there is currently no clear answer to this question. Please read the following and make your choice.

Some tags are explicitly designed as a top-level tag for putting on a gym/fitness centre POI. Of these, the most frequently used tag in the database is currently amenity=gym. However this has been explicitly deprecated and documented as "do not use", because of some of the problems described below. Despite this, it is currently the most used tag.

sport=fitness is not regarded as "top level" tag to be used to categorise a POI. It is normally used as an additional combo tag / attribute of another POI type. Some people are however using it on its own. It does also get used on swimming pools and other such POIs (So not always a gym)

With the usage stats given below we also include leisure=sports_centre, which is used many more times, but is obviously less specific, not denoting a gym/fitness centre directly. However using this tag in combination with sport=fitness is a popular choice. At time of writing there are 653 objects with the sport=fitness + leisure=sports_centre combo, making this (just) more popular than the old amenity=gym tag. It also gets dropped from some stats analysis if people choose to combine 'fitness' with other sports values with semi colon separator.

A common tagging mistake is to use the US spelling (center), while OSM tries to consistently use British spelling for tag names (centre). Sadly people even make this mistake within tag proposal pages.

There are a number of wiki tag documentation pages and tag proposal pages.

...however, every tag that has been suggested seems to be in actual use in the map, plus some combinations of them.


To illustrate how much of an inconsistent mess we have, here are the taginfo statistics for the different tags:


leisure not amenity

Most people seem to agree that 'leisure' would be better than 'amenity' as the key to use. The leisure tag is for places people go in their spare time, which is how most people use a gym. Also other tags like leisure=sports_centre,leisure=fitness_station or leisure=pitch all use it.

In general the amenity key was "overloaded" with tags in the early years of OpenStreetMap, and we have gradually moved various things off it. Moving tags comes with a cost. This is the only advantage of using the amenity key. It means we can stick with (and recommend) using the most commonly used tag. However amenity=gym is widely disliked for one other big reason (described below), and so many mappers are not sticking with it.

Ambiguity of the word gym

"Gym" has two meanings which are quite different (though from the same origins). From this ambiguity we might conclude that using the word gym in a tag is a bad idea.

For English speaking people in the UK, North America & Australia in modern times, the word "gym" has most often come to mean a place with exercise machines and/or fitness/dance classes. It's a place to go for exercise (to "work out" as they say in the US) Otherwise known as a health club, fitness club, or fitness centre

Gym 1-1-.jpg

For added confusion, the room where fitness/dance classes happen, might be called a gymnasium. So there's a gymnasium as part of the gym!

Aerobic exercise - public demonstration07.jpg

Obviously the origin of the word "gym" is "gymnasium", a large room which could be used for many different indoor sports.


A place where you do gymnastics would probably be called a gymnasium, however the majority of gymnasiums in the world are actually part of Schools or sports centre, and typically these places are designed to cater for lots of different sports, with markings on the floor for playing indoor basketball, volleyball, badminton, 5-a-side soccer etc.


For added confusion "Gymnasium" in German is a type of secondary school. Weirdly this has crossed over to the U.S. in some places. Meanwhile in Latin languages an "academia" doesn't mean academy (type of school), but a fitness centre!

From this ambiguity we might conclude that using the word gym in a tag is a bad idea. However...

Common use of the word gym (counterargument)

Native speakers very commonly use the word "gym" to describe a thing which is a gym/fitness centre. They very commonly say "Let's go to the gym" for example.

Oxford Dictionary

A place, typically a private club, providing a range of facilities designed to improve and maintain physical fitness and health.
—British English
A membership organization that provides a range of facilities designed to improve and maintain physical fitness and health
—US English

More examples:

LEO Dictionary (German-English)

Uses gym for the workout example "to work out at a gym"


A health club (also known as a fitness club, fitness center, and commonly referred to as a gym) is a place which houses exercise equipment for the purpose of physical exercise.

Wikipedia Health club on Wikipedia

German Wikipedia also references it that way: (Fitnessstudio, im Englischen)


Google Image Search is also very clear

Google Search:

"let's go to the gym" 7.270.000 results

"let's go to the health club" 8 results

"let's go to the fitness centre" 2 results

"let's go to the fitness center" 6 results

That doesn't necessarily mean that "fitness centre" is wrong, just that people prefer to use the word "gym" in that sentence. It rolls off the tongue more easily for colloquial use. People do not say "Let's go to the fitness centre".

Other "maps"

(searching for "gym map ... ")

  • ...

We can conclude that most native english speakers know exactly what they're talking about when they say "gym". It's not normally ambiguous, and it does mean gym as in fitness centre.

...However "Fitness centre" is "correct" and makes perfect sense to native english speakers too (though used less frequently in colloquial speech). Perhaps it can be regarded as more accurate precise language, and certainly avoids ambiguity.