Opportunities for Injury Abound in Rec Centers, Health Clubs

Facility operators should consider the limitless opportunities for injury in their club or rec center.

The clanging of free weights, the pulsing backbeat of a dance song in a group exercise room, the persistent hum of treadmill belts and the steady, muted thuds of the shoes landing on them - all are sounds representing bodies in motion. But, to a fitness center risk manager, these signs of life also represent the potential for injury. As Gary Bradley, a partner with Glendale, Calif.-based law firm Bradley & Gmelich, bluntly puts it, "There's nothing you can do to prevent injuries: The human body is frail and people are stupid."

Though injuries can't be avoided entirely, they can be minimized. Thus, so too can the numbers of potentially financially damaging injury-related claims targeting fitness facilities and their owners. "I put clubs into three categories," says Bradley. "There's the ignorant, there's the smarting and there's the smart. The ignorant club owners are the ones who don't think about these issues and think they'll never get hit with a lawsuit. The smarting are the ones who've gotten hit but weren't prepared for it and are now scrambling to learn their lessons. The smart are the ones who try to figure it out from the very beginning."

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