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Concerns over fitness clubs failing to comply with injury minimisation guidance
A report in the Sydney Morning Herald has highlighted that the concerns of leading sport injury researchers about gyms and fitness centres failing to comply with industry guidelines to minimise the risk of injury when exercising.
Professor Caroline Finch, Head of the Centre for Healthy and Safe Sport at Victoria's Federation University, along with colleagues from Bond University, the University of South Australia, Sports Medicine Australia and Fitness Australia, recently surveyed more than 1,100 people working in the industry and found more than a third of fitness centres failed to screen members to establish any pre-existing health problems.
The findings occurred despite a national screening system designed by Fitness Australia and introduced in 2012 in a bid to lift industry standards.
Known as the Adult Pre-Exercise Screening System (APSS), the voluntary guidelines include assessing a gym member's risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic or respiratory illness, and getting clearance from a health professional.
Professor Finch's group found that almost a quarter of fitness centres were insufficiently aware of the safety guidelines.
Professor Finch told the Sydney Morning Herald, "if you go to a gym where the people don't know about the guidelines, you're not going to get assessed before you start to exercise and they're not going to tell you what's safe for you.
"Failing to follow these guidelines puts people at risk."
The research, to be presented at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) World Conference on Prevention of Injury & Illness in Sport in Monaco today (Friday 11th April), included analysing Victorian hospital admission data between 2002 and 2012 to identify the most common type of exercise to cause injury.
During that period, the Monash Injury Research Institute found that of 1,979 people injured in fitness centres during that period, more than half were using motorised equipment such as treadmills or undertaking general gym work, 37% were doing resistance training and 11% were doing aerobic exercises.
Professor Finch said of more than 1,100 people surveyed, 44% said weights were often not put away, making them a hazard for gym users. Half the respondents reported gym members lifting weights that were too heavy for them.
A subsequent statement from Physical Activity Australia explained "national screening systems are imperative for maintaining professional standards in the fitness industry.
"They help to protect the health and safety of our clients.
"Without proper screening and assessments, we trainers are unable to provide exercise prescription tailored to our clients' current level of health and fitness and their goals.
"Without information, it's impossible for us to apply our professional judgement on how to address and prioritise these clients and their health concerns.
"Without proper screening, we're guessing ... at best. At worst, we face dangerous liability resulting in injury."
Click here for more information on the IOC World Conference on Prevention of Injury & Illness in Sport.
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11th May 2013 - SURVEY TO ASSESS RISK MANAGEMENT IN FITNESS
15th June 2012 - WHY DID IT TAKE FITNESS FIRST FOUR YEARS TO SAY ‘SORRY’?
4th November 2010 - FITNESS INDUSTRY PUTS CUSTOMER SAFETY FIRST
5th October 2010 - ASSOCIATIONS JOINTLY ENDORSE NEW GUIDELINES FOR EXERCISE INTENSITY
15th January 2010 - LES MILLS RELEASES ‘FUTURE OF FITNESS’ RESEARCH
18th June 2009 - TREADMILLS TO WARN OF INJURY RISK TO CHILDREN
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