Improving safety in the fitness industry

Going to the gym has become Australia's second most favourite exercise activity and in response, a team of researchers has released a manual to enhance safety cultures within the fitness industry.

Led by La Trobe University Head of Law School Professor Patrick Keyzer, a three-year Australian Fitness Industry Risk Management project has culminated in the manual, which Professor Keyzer believes will be implemented across-board.

Studies have shown that Australians are becoming more health-conscious and engaged in fitness, with four million men and women attending fitness centres regularly. Only walking surpasses the gym's popularity.

However, this unprecedented study was the first in Australia to look at areas where safety could be improved.

On Friday 1 August 2014, Professor Keyzer presented a summary of findings at the launch of the manual at Federation Square.

'It is important for Australia to have a healthy population and for Australians to know fitness services will be provided in a safe environment,' Professor Keyzer said.

'It is also important for fitness services to avoid unnecessary legal liability and the costs associated with defending claims.

'The fitness industry in Australia has some really high-quality operators and this manual is about having protocols available that point to the safer use of machines and services.'

The aim of the project – which was the result of an Australian Research Council linkage grant - was to identify the regulation that governs risk management in the fitness industry and to improve safety practices.

The cross-university research group included Bond University Professor Joachim Dietrich, Federation University Professor Caroline Finch, University of South Australia Professor Kevin Norton and Central Queensland University Dr Betul Sekendiz.La Trobe University is committed to building healthy communities, which was a key focus of the research.

Read the full paper here.

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Image credit: Nikon NY