Mitigating Fitness Center Risks

Industry experts estimate that 59% of U.S. business travelers used hotel gyms prior to the coronavirus pandemic. As gyms across the country, including those in hotels, reopen, hotel owners need to worry about both the coronavirus and traditional fitness center risks.

Controlling the spread of coronavirus in gyms is likely at the forefront of everyone’s mind. With local public health guidelines, business owners’ responsibilities are clearly laid out: reduce capacity to ¼ to ⅓ of what it previously was, implement face mask requirements, operate with a high filtration air handling system, etc. While adhering to these requirements is incredibly important, disregarding other risks is foolish and potentially harmful. Even amid a stressful and chaotic time, businesses must continue to protect themselves against non-covid-related risks and remain vigilant.

What Are Your Legal Obligations?

Business owners are responsible for providing a safe, secure environment, free from foreseeable hazards. Exercise equipment must be safe and well maintained. Warning and instructions for safe use must be prominently displayed. Neglecting this important area of a hotel or resort can be costly. According to Distinguished statistics, we have processed over 400 claims arising from a recreational activity at hotels over the past decade, totaling over $2.5 million in cost. A single treadmill accident cost $495,000 to settle.

In a time where businesses are struggling to remain afloat, mitigating risk is especially important. One claim could mean the end of business.

How Can You Protect Your Organization?

  • Prominently display guest rules to the fitness center at the registration desk and around the room. 
  • Ask guests to wipe off equipment after use; provide towels and disinfectant spray for this purpose. Amid COVID-19, sanitizing equipment is extra important. Add hand sanitizer stations and increase the regularity with which the gym is cleaned.
  • Include a disclaimer that the hotel is not responsible for personal items stored or left in workout/locker areas. Ask that guests secure their valuables in safety deposit boxes, not lockers.
  • Instruct guests that exercise equipment was designed for reasonable adult use only. All exercise equipment should have a clear placard of instructions explaining how to use it. The exercises should be fairly basic and intuitive.
  • Children under 16 or under four feet tall should only be allowed to use fitness centers with proper adult supervision.
  • Guests should be asked to limit themselves to thirty minutes on cardiovascular machines. 
  • Only water should be allowed in workout areas. No other food or drink should be permitted.
  • Equipment should be laid out so that guests can exercise without endangering one another. Most manufacturers offer free facility planning and will offer suggestions on spacing, equipment needs, and industry trends.