Resolved to join a gym in 2016?
The 2015 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report revealed that almost 9 million people in the UK are registered as members of a private health and fitness club or a publicly-owned fitness facility. That equates to about 13.7% of the population.
There are around 6,300 fitness facilities in the UK, and an average of 3.6 new gyms open every week. Many new gym memberships are taken out in January by those who resolve to get fit, lose weight and improve health as the New Year starts.
To prevent unnecessary gym accidents, safety specialists recommend that the following checks should be considered when a new member joins.
Are the instructors qualified?
Any new member should be shown around a gym by a trainer or instructor. The gym trainer will demonstrate how to use the equipment properly and how to get the best out of a workout. The new member should then be supervised to ensure they are able to safely operate equipment.
Improper techniques taught by an unqualified instructor can result in immediate and long-term damage, including muscle damage, neck injuries and back injuries. Qualified staff are trained to recognise when exercises may lead to injury and to notice when gym users show any signs of a condition or potential injury. Staff should prevent new users continuing a potentially dangerous exercise.
Management must ensure that staff are properly trained to minimise the risk of injury to members. In the event that a member is injured as a result of an poorly-trained instructor's advice, the gym could be found to be negligent.
Is the gym and gym equipment safe to use?
Gyms contain specialist, heavy equipment with moving parts. These machines must be properly maintained to ensure they are not faulty and likely to cause injury.
Accidents may also occur where the equipment are not handled correctly, or users are not adequately supervised - causing injury to the user or other members.
Who is taking the exercise classes?
Some gym users prefer to use their membership to participate in exercise classes rather than work out on a treadmill, exercise bike or cross-trainer.
Zumba, kickboxing, dance or aerobic workouts are all popular - but these classes should again be run by suitably qualified instructors who are trained to ensure that class members are undertaking the movements correctly and are using any associated equipment correctly.
Injury claims relating to the activity of a trainer holding a class may be made against the trainer, the trainer's employer, or the gym owners, depending on the circumstances of the accident or injury.
Are the floors, changing rooms and spa equipment properly maintained?
Exercise at the gym is not restricted to using equipment and attending classes. Members of larger gyms opt to play team sports, or use the pool, sauna and steam rooms.
The risk of spill-related injuries should be managed by the gym by conducting regular inspections. Discarded gym and cleaning equipment may also be a hazard if it is not tidied away properly.
Is the gym clean?
Maintaining high standards of health and hygiene are important in an environment where people are working-out. If the equipment and facilities are not regularly and thoroughly cleaned, cross-contamination of micro-organisms that lead to infections may occur.
Water-borne illness is a particular risk, including cryptosporidium and legionnaires' disease, where shower facilities and fountains are not cleaned and maintained.
With so many potential sources of injury, gyms and leisure centres are obliged to ensure that they provide a safe environment for members to work out by providing well-maintained gym equipment, knowledgeable trainers, vigilant supervisors and hygienic facilities.
However, accidents in gyms can and do happen - even to experienced gym members who regularly work out - and where an accident occurs due to the negligence of trainers, other staff or the gym operators it may be possible to make a claim for compensation.
For more information or to start a claim with Quittance's personal injury solicitors, call free for no obligation consultation on 0800 612 7456.
Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher
About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.