• Art Curtis: Protecting Personal Information

    by September 2015

    Over the past 30 years, Dr. Art Curtis has held a variety of senior leadership positions in the fitness and wellness industry, including serving as CEO and COO of several major club and spa companies. He also was the former chairman of the IHRSA Board of Directors and is a founding member of iClubs. As part of a series for iClubs, Curtis has written about Town Sports International and Life Time Fitness as well as companies going public and the impact of technology in the industry. In this edition, Curtis offers his thoughts on protecting and securing members’ private information.

    On one hand, the protection of members’ personal information has gotten a lot better over the years because there are far fewer paper records being stored in unsecured files in clubs where many staff members have access. It was not difficult to pull a member’s file and copy important personal information. More records are being kept in digitally encrypted files with access limited to few individuals via password protection.

  • Treadmill Safety Discussed in Wake of Tragedy

    by May 2015

    With treadmill-related injuries dominating industry news last week after the death of SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, one fitness equipment manufacturer took the initiative to educate the masses about proper treadmill use.

  • Opportunities for Injury Abound in Health Clubs

    by Nicholas Brown November 2014

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

  • To Avoid Lawsuits, Health Clubs Must Heed Equipment Life Expectancy

    by Jeffrey Long October 2014

    Exploding exercise balls can lead to expensive lawsuits, unless health club owners follow these important steps.

  • AEDs Save Lives, But Only If You Maintain Them

    by Andrew Cohen September 2014

    Kathy Margiasso, fitness director at Mount Kisco (N.Y.) Athletic Club, joined a really special club last week when she saved a 64-year-old member's life with an automated external defibrillator. Told that the member (whose name was withheld) had fallen off a treadmill and was unconscious, she told the club manager to call 911, grabbed the AED, shocked the victim and, with the help of personal trainer Val Yasovic, performed CPR until EMTs arrived. According to First Aid Corps, the member was stabilized at a nearby hospital and underwent double bypass surgery the following day.

  • How to Control the Story Following a Club Member Death

    by September 2014

    In May, one of our members — Scott — was found unconscious in our pool. Our staff attempted to revive him using CPR and our AED, but despite our best efforts and those of EMTs who had arrived by ambulance, Scott was pronounced dead at the hospital a short while later.

  • CDC Issues First National Model Aquatic Health Code

    by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention September 2014

    Note: Oops! Our mistake. If you came here from our newsletter looking for the September 18th edition of Gym Shorts, you can find that here.


    Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    (August 29, 2014) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued the first national Model Aquatic Health Code, guidelines that public pool operators can follow to help keep swimmers healthy and safe and that state and local health departments can use when they create or update public pool regulations. The code provides tips on safe operation of public aquatic facilities, including design and construction, water filtration and disinfection, safety, ventilation and air quality and staff training. 

  • Lessons from Our Club’s Response to an On-Site Fatality

    by August 2014

    Please read this column.

  • Know the Rules to Avoid a PR Nightmare

    by May 2014

    It seems that health clubs just can not stay out of their own way in terms of bad publicity. Planet Fitness has gotten on the wrong side of controversy more than once lately. Now LA Fitness is making the negative PR waves. 

    An LA Fitness in Oceanside, Calif. recently made news when the gym told a mother that she was not allowed to breastfeed in the locker room and instead had to use the daycare bathroom, which led to a Nurse-in outside the club. This occurred right after this ad campaign by University of North Texas students caught the attention of social media, depicting moms breastfeeding in public bathrooms to express the need for legislation giving moms the right to breastfeed in public.

    While that move, in and of itself, is not at all member-friendly, it is also outside the state law, which gives mothers the freedom to breastfeed anywhere children are allowed. So, while the locker room may be out, a comfortable seat in the gym's kids club would have been within the mother's rights rather than the toilet bowl in the bathroom.

    But while the incident shows a need for customer sensitivity training, it also leads to a question that many clubs--chains and independent clubs alike-- need to ask themselves: "does our staff know and understand the boundaries of the local laws?"

    While every club has its own set of rules and regulations in its operations manual (you do have one of them, right?), which are reinforced through staff training (you do that, right?), it is important to make sure that your operations are within the constraints of local, state, and federal laws. 

    For instance, most states (and many localities) have specific ratios for children to caretakers. Does your GM know that number? If someone calls in sick from your babysitting service, does he or she know what to do and how to get back into compliance? 

    What about your cafe or juice bar? Is your staff ServeSafe certified? Has your GM been through the training? While he or she may never be making a sandwich or smoothie, knowing the requirements and being certified can save your club some grief should an inspector drop in for a "friendly visit." 

    What about the growing need for allergy sensitivity training and certification? While not a requirement in many localities, having your staff certified can reduce the chance of making the local papers or social media channels.

    The examples can go on and on depending upon your amenities. We can look at saunas, pools, restaurants, day camps, and any other such amenity. In fact, in Massachusetts (and likely elsewhere), club's are required to post current pricing in a conspicuous area where customers can see it or face a often is that known by the staff?

    Owners have to know what needs to be done in order to be compliant, not only with what they think are sound business standards, but also with the law, and then make sure the staff is up-to-date. This can save the embarrassment that LA Fitness, Planet Fitness, and other gyms have experienced lately due to not being customer-sensitive, as well as a slap from local lawmakers.

  • Flood Emergency Provides Lessons in Crisis Management

    by March 2014

    As a gym owner or manager, there's one phone call, above all others, that you do not want at 1 a.m. — a call from your alarm company.