Exercise equipment and gym memberships are still at the top of the wish list for many of us around the holidays. We’re eager to start a new program and want only the best, top-of-the-line equipment for our home gym to help us get the job done. Or, we’ve been meaning to join the neighborhood gym for some time and finally make the leap to buy an annual pass.
No matter what method we choose, exercise equipment comes in many forms. Home gyms include equipment like Bowflex, treadmills, stability balls and bands that we can tie around a doorknob to feel the benefits of resistance training without the use of free weights. We’re so excited that we don’t take the time to view the video that comes with the equipment. Commercial gyms have stair-stepping machines, power treadmills, circuit training machines and an assortment of free weights. We jump right in, neglecting to take the time to meet with a trainer. Misuse comes on the part of the user, improper training for a specific piece of equipment, equipment defect, and lack of care by the manager of the gym.
Most equipment in commercial gyms is built to last, and created to withstand the constant use (and sometimes abuse) of the user. Despite the “caution” signs that gyms have on display, people are still negligent in this type of setting. Untied shoelaces might get caught in a moving treadmill or stair-stepping machine; pieces of clothing could get caught on a weight plate; and settings on an electric machine could malfunction. Even though it’s their job, gym workers and trainers do not always pay attention to the condition of the equipment, and with a high turnaround of employees documentation of wear and tear becomes lost in the shuffle.
If you’re planning to join a gym in the coming year, here are a few ways you can ensure better safety while staying healthy and injury-free:
- Check the overall condition of the club. Little signs of disrepair or lack of cleanliness could indicate signs of bigger problems. If the little things aren’t taken care of, how do you know the bigger issues are being addressed?
- While the equipment may appear to look shiny, signs of longevity and wear include cracked handles, frayed cords and worn tread. If you see any of these, you may want to think twice about using that equipment or joining that gym.
- Be sure the equipment is placed on even surfaces and that power cords are not overloaded with other pieces of equipment. Overloading circuits could cause a treadmill to stop suddenly and you could be thrown off.
- Are kids allowed in the gym? Little ones should be kept out of the way of any exercise equipment. They like to play on these big pieces of equipment, and could easily become caught up in cords or crushed by weights.
When an injury in a gym does occur, many fingers can be pointed as a result of user error, staff neglect, technical oversight and machine malfunction. When you see something amiss at your athletic club, report the problem to staff immediately. If you find that your own home gym equipment is not performing the way it should, contact the manufacturer immediately before it’s too late. Exercise your body and your rights to safer and healthier work-out conditions now and for years to come.