The fitness industry is HUGE. There are about as many gyms in your neighborhood as there are Starbucks. The difference is when you go into a Starbucks, you know what you are getting, the consistency between them should be about the same. Gyms on the other hand are completely different animals. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are traditional, some are out of the box, some are mom and pop, and some are cookie cutter. It doesn’t matter what kind of gym you go to as long as you go to one that is safe. After all, what is the point of getting in better health if you injure yourself at the gym?
THERE ARE NO STANDARDS
The problem is the health club industry is not really regulated in Florida. The truth is there is no licensing requirement from the State of Florida to license a personal trainer. When you think about it, that is a scary fact. Many “certified” personal trainers, have very little to no training whatsoever. Just about anyone can find an online certification, or a weekend certification and become a personal trainer. On the flip side, physical therapists need to be licensed to perform similar activities.
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE JOINING
The National Academy of Sports Medicine suggests before joining any fitness center you defiantly want to take a tour. When you take your tour, don’t just focus on the “newest” and “best” equipment, look at the following:
- Is the gym laid out in an orderly fashion? Are there clear walking paths to get to the bathrooms, the entrance and exit? If not, there could be definite trip hazards.
- Does the equipment look new or in good condition? If not, that means management doesn’t care about upkeep. One frayed cable could mean a serious injury for you.
- Does the equipment look clean? Again, if it is not clean, management doesn’t care about the longevity of the equipment. Nor do they care about the health of their patrons. If there is dirty equipment, you can be there are germs floating about.
- Are there plenty of cleaning stations? Gym equipment should be wiped down after each use. If there are not enough cleaning stations, you know that is not getting done. Also look to see if management or employees are cleaning the equipment as well. Sweat transfer can cause all sorts of skin diseases if equipment is not cleaned properly.
- How are the patrons behaving? Is this a place where meatheads are throwing weights around in a haphazard fashion? Is this a place where groups of 3-5 people hang out in front of a mirror talking and not lifting a single weight? Is there rowdy behavior that management is not addressing?
- Are there fire extinguishers and have they been checked as well.
- Most Importantly is there an AED? An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm.
QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE JOINING A GYM
- Has there been previous injuries?
- What are the emergency procedures?
- Do your Employees know CPR?
- Do you carry liability Insurance?
- Where are your personal trainers certified?
If you get a blank stare or some off the cuff answer, run. While some of these things might seems a little too critical to consider, think about your safety first, because no one else will.
These suggestions, are just the tip of the iceberg. As we discussed, the fitness industry is not really regulated in Florida, and personal trainers do not have to be licensed. (That is a whole other blog topic for another day). The worst thing that can happen is that you do get injured trying to better yourself at the gym. If you do get injured while at the gym, read about how we can help you.