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With the recent tragic death of SurveyMonkey CEO David Goldberg after falling from a treadmill at a hotel fitness center in Mexico, I’ve been thinking a lot about hotel fitness center safety.
I have reviewed fitness centers all over the world. I look at various factors: air, space, light, cleanliness and equipment, among other things. If the equipment is not kept in good working order and good repair – it is beyond useless – it can be outright dangerous. Or even deadly.
Many runners refer to treadmills as dreadmills because of the boredom factor. This explains why we need music, TV and all sorts of entertainment centers when we use treadmills. And yet, we must concentrate on what we’re doing. We must use care not to trip or fall. (but all of this can be said for outdoor running too).
Personally, I prefer to run outdoors. Ideally, on packed dirt. But sometimes, whether due to time, or weather, I must exercise indoors. My logic says that running on a treadmill is safer than running on ice, or alone in the dark. When I’m at home, this is the gym. When I’m away, this is the hotel gym. I am paying for each, and I expect each to have good, clean facilities with safe, working equipment.
I often opt for an elliptical or stairmaster machine rather than the treadmill, or some combination thereof. I can run for hours outdoors, but 20 or 30 minutes on the treadmill is all I can muster. My shins tend to hurt after running on treadmills.
Larger hotel gyms have an attendant or trainer on the premises. Presumably, they do more than hand out towels. A room that is open feels larger and is more conducive to working out. A glass wall overlooking an atrium or pool is lovely. A closed room feels claustrophobic but also scary – someone could walk in and hurt me, or I could get hurt and no one would know it. If I feel like I’m on my guard when I’m working out, it’s not productive.
Sometimes on treadmills, I’m inspired to play speed games. I up the speed to see how fast I can go. Intense concentration is needed because I am pushing the limit. I realize now that this is not safe.
Sometimes a friend comes along at the gym while I’m running on the treadmill and taps me on the shoulder. Even this startles me somewhat. Is it dangerous? Who knows.
I am not an expert (or even a novice expert) on the mechanics of the treadmill, but I tend to believe that the safety of the treadmill depends on the condition of the motor and the band. If a band seems at all wobbly or uneven, I don’t use the machine. Are gym machines subject to inspections and certifications much like cars and other motorized machines are?
I’ve noticed on many treadmills, if you hold down the increase speed button, the speed increases exponentially. Think of this like a fast forward button on your TV, where it goes from 2x to 4x to 8x to 16x very quickly as you hold down the button. Sometimes, by holding down the button, I have to very quickly reduce it because it’s increased to a speed I never meant to hit and one I can’t keep up with. This takes immediate action and concentration – as I know at this moment, I could get hurt.
The stop buttons are good, but if you accidentally hit it, you can get jolted. Does anyone use the emergency clips on treadmills?
Towels fall. Things fall. hopefully, they just slide off the treadmill.
Too often I’ve seen kids and teenagers unaccompanied by adults hanging out in a hotel gym. They misuse the machines and can cause danger to themselves or others. A young child playing in a hotel gym while his or her mother is running on the treadmill is not a good thing either. Should there be a minimum age limit?
What first aid equipment should a hotel fitness center be required to maintain?
Hotel pools often have signs that one should not swim unless there is at least one adult not in the pool. I’ve never seen this enforced. If a solo swimmer dies based on negligence of the hotel, does that remove legal liability of the hotel?
Should hotel gyms have similar disclaimers? Would they be effective?
And, as the lawyer in me continues to ponder, in the event of an accident … what about the doctrine of Assumption of the Risk? How far will a court apply it?
Should hotels have cameras on their gym facilities, so they can “keep an eye” on the guests? Is that good or creepy? People can slip in the shower – should there be cameras there too?
These are just some random thoughts, that can be expanded upon. I’m sure there are many more, I’d truly appreciate your input.
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