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Debra D. Lee, M.S.
(352) 692.2115
[email protected]

Joe Cirulli Biography

Joseph Cirulli is originally from Elmira, New York. In 1978 he established the Gainesville Health & Fitness Centers in Gainesville, Florida. Today, Cirulli owns three clubs with more than 27,000 members: a 78,000 square foot club in the heart of Gainesville, a 25,000 square foot club in the Tioga Town Center, and a 14,000 square foot womens-only center in Thornebrook Village. 2018 marks the 40th year of business for GHF.

As of 1996, Cirulli also shares ownership of two rehabilitation centers: ReQuest Physical Therapy and ReQuest Physical Therapy at Tioga with North Florida Regional Medical Center. He employs over 450 people among his Gainesville Health & Fitness Centers and the ReQuest Physical Therapy locations.

Cirulli is an accomplished writer contributing to various national and international publications including Peak Performance Magazine, CBI, and Club Industry Magazine. He is a featured presenter for many national and international organizations such as IHRSA (International Health, Racquet & Sports Club Association), IDEA, Club Industry, Fitness Network (Australia), BodyLife (Germany), and European Fitness Convention (England). He has also presented seminars on business and the fitness industry in New Zealand, Italy, Russia, Canada, Brazil, and Hong Kong, to name a few. Cirulli was asked to make a presentation to Governor Jeb Bush's Task Force about the City of Gainesville's actions to combat the obesity epidemic.

If he is not working or traveling, Cirulli makes time for various charitable organizations and boards, including  IHRSA President and the American Heart Association Heart Walk Chairman. He also gives numerous in-kind and monetary donations to groups such as Peaceful Paths, the Arthritis Foundation, Fight Children's Cancer, the Children's Miracle Network, Project Graduation, and food and toy drives for The Alachua County Volunteer Center, to name a few.

Club Awards

When Cirulli is not traveling, industry representatives from around the world visit his health clubs. He and his health clubs have been the recipients of numerous awards, achievements, and recognitions, including the following:

  • The Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Leader Award
  • Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year
  • Induction into Junior Achievement's Business Hall of Fame
  • Entrepreneur of the Year Award by regional business magazine
  • In 1996 GHFC was named among top 8 health clubs in the USA by Men's Health magazine
  • 1996 IHRSA named the Gainesville Health & Fitness Center Sales Team #1 in the world
  • 1996 Identified by IHRSA among the 5 cleanest clubs in the world ("The Clean Machine")
  • 1997 City Beautification Award in commercial/retail division
  • 1997 Silver School-to-Work Zone Award for outstanding contributions to Florida School-to-Work Initiative (executive internship program)
  • 1997 Alachua County Industry of the Year Award - Service
  • 1998 IHRSA named Debbie Lee, Operations Manager for the Gainesville Health & Fitness Center for Women, Club Manager of the Year
  • 2000 Gainesville Health & Fitness Center placed third in the IHRSA/Polar Electro
  • 2001 Gainesville Health & Fitness Center named World Fitness Center of the Year by the European Conference
  • 2003 Gainesville Health & Fitness Center received Platinum Workplace Award from the Wellness Council of America.
  • 2004 Distinguished Entrepreneur for Lifetime Achievement Award
  • AHA Community Fitness Innovation Award. 2011, 2012, 2013
  • 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award-Club Industry
  • 2013 Ethics in Business Award by Gainesville Rotary
  • 2013 Gainesville Beautification Award
  • 2014 Business of the Year - Best Business Expansion, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce
  • 25 Best Small Companies in America by Forbes Magazine in 2016
  • Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce names Gainesville Health & Fitness the Best Large Business of the Year

Quick Facts:

Gainesville Health & Fitness

Year Founded:
1978 by Joe Cirulli, Sole Proprietor

Current Number of Members:

To inspire an entire community

Core Purpose:
To create an experience that helps people get the most out of life and inspires them to become their best

Core Vision:
To become known as one of the best companies for the world

Download latest press release:
GHF Celebrates 40 Years


For high resolution photos, contact Johnathan Ross

Gainesville Health & Fitness
Main Center

4820 Newberry Road
Gainesville, FL 32607
(352) 377-4955

Gainesville Health & Fitness

2441 NW 43rd Street
Suite 15A
Gainesville, FL 32606
(352) 374-4634

Gainesville Health & Fitness
Tioga Center

12830 SW 1st Lane Suite 100
Tioga, FL 32669
(352) 692-2180

Web Address:

Current Number of Employees:

History of GHF

In 1973, a nineteen-year-old Joe Cirulli drove to Gainesville, Florida to visit friends - a city of 100,000 residents and 40,000 students at the University of Florida - from his hometown of Elmira in upstate New York. He came with less than $500 in his pocket and a recently acquired two-year college degree. Since Joe couldn't afford a health club membership, he took a part-time job in a health club in exchange for membership.

After one month he was offered a paid full-time job as a fitness instructor and his temporary visit to Gainesville became permanent. Over the next few years, Joe became a top salesperson but each time lost money owed to him when the club he was working at went bankrupt. At one point, Joe was so low on funds he sometimes slept in the clubs where he was employed, at other times in closed-down clubs, and even in his car!

Joe's life changed at 20 when he stumbled across the books The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale and Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. The books inspired Joe to sit and write out a list of everything he wanted to accomplish. The top two goals that Joe wanted to accomplish were to own his own health club and to make health clubs more respectable in the Gainesville community. For years Joe would look at his list every morning and every night, knowing the hard work he was doing would result in reaching his goals.

In 1978 the sixth facility he was working for went bankrupt. Joe worked with the landlord and was able to take it over. What he learned from those health clubs was primarily what NOT to do. Instead of taking care of their members and earning longtime loyalty, owners padded their own pockets with membership dues. In fact the fitness industry was notorious nationally, as well as in the Gainesville market, for signing people up, taking their money and ignoring them. Short-term monetary gain was instead the driving force. Failure to reinvest led to reduction in staff, poor upkeep of equipment, sloppy housekeeping, loss of members and eventual bankruptcy.

After a lot of hard work, Joe moved locations and opened a 2,500 square foot club with three staff members. His club was a great success. Keeping in mind what he learned from his predecessors, Joe began reinvesting his money by expanding the size of the club, purchasing new equipment and hiring more staff. Over the past 23 years the club has expanded and moved several times before coming to its present 62,000 square foot location.

In 1983, Joe felt there would be more women members if they had a facility of their own, and in 1984 he opened the Gainesville Health & Fitness for Women. Today that facility is growing stronger with a complete renovation. With the renovation and beautification of Gainesville Health & Fitness for Women, comes a new name! It will simply be known as GHF Women- a place where every woman grows stronger. 

In the mid 80's Joe thought health clubs would be the perfect arena to house a rehabilitation center. Joe put his vision into action after sustaining a knee injury in Karate. He underwent major surgery and went through physical therapy. During his rehabilitation Joe thought to himself, "I can do this better." He became involved with research with Arthur Jones, (Founder of Nautilus) who at the time was developing medical testing machines. His new company was called MedX. Gainesville Health & Fitness Center actually became a research center teaming up with the University of Florida's College of Medicine researching Arthur's new tools. The results of the research were so phenomenal that in 1988 Joe opened his first outpatient orthopedic rehabilitation center, a 400 square foot facility with two employees. By March of 1996, it was so successful he formed a joint venture with a local hospital, North Florida Regional Medical Center. The new facility is called ReQuest Physical Therapy and is located inside the coed club.

Joe Cirulli - Founder, Gainesville Health & Fitness Centers