Injuries in the Gym – New Issues for the Fitness Industry

The explosions of gyms and fitness centres has had a huge beneficial effect on the community’s fitness and general health.

Every second shop in most neighbourhoods is either a fitness centre or a laser clinic.

With the massive increase in people seeking assistance with their fitness regimes, comes a strong responsibility on the service providers to ensure the safety of participants.

Starting a gym programme is a bit like starting a diet. People tend to go at it like a bull at a gate and require careful management to ensure they do not suffer injury as a result.

One of the primary responsibilities of a fitness instructor is to take a careful history of the participant to determine what type of exercise programme is suitable for them. That obligation extends to ensuring that a history is taken of any prior injuries and any medical conditions such as a heart disorder which may affect the type of activity recommended.

We have been involved in a number of cases where the exercise programme put in place has been wholly unsuitable for the participant with disastrous consequences. A good example is a recent case involving a mature lady who was directed by her trainer to do leg presses at a weight usually reserved for a fit athlete. It had the unfortunate consequence of a serious hip injury.

A further case we have received done involved a lady in her mid-thirties, with a past history of hip and abductor muscle injuries, being required to perform exercises that were inappropriate given her previous history. She suffered a terrible exacerbation of her injury and has been unable to work since.

The less experienced participant, with no background of physical activity, requires an instructor to make sure proper warm-up and warm-down routines are used, and to ensure the participants progress is staged carefully to avoid unnecessary injuries.

Other gym cases which we have been involved have related to poorly serviced and maintained equipment, and unsafe gymnasium premises. There are standards and protocols which apply to the inspection and maintenance of gym equipment and it is incumbent upon fitness centres to ensure they have sufficient staff to carry out regular inspections and to ensure the gymnasium area is free of danger, such as water spillages and unsafe floor surfaces.

Most gymnasiums and fitness centres employer staff, and in addition have some contracted fitness instructors who use the facilities to conduct private classes. There is often an issue as to who is responsible in those circumstances and whether or not a private instructor would have to rely on her/his own insurance, or whether they may be covered by the fitness centre’s insurance. These are issues we regularly have to deal with.

If you have suffered an injury in a gymnasium or as part of a fitness programme, and you consider the operator may have been negligent, then you should contact us to discuss and find out whether or not you have any rights to compensation as a result.