Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Some Raise Concerns About 24-Hour Fitness Clubs

“The 24-hour fitness center is one of the fastest-growing fitness franchises, billing itself as an alternative to oversized and overpriced health clubs. But the explosion also has raised concerns about whether people should be working out in a fitness facility unsupervised, especially late at night. Earlier this year, two Anytime Fitness franchisees in St. Paul, Minn., were fined for violating an ordinance that requires an employer or manager qualified in first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation to be on duty at all times a business is open. Anytime Fitness is working with the St. Paul mayor to change the ordinance, passed in the '80s to crack down on prostitution. New York state law requires health clubs with more than 500 members to have a defibrillator and an employee or volunteer who is certified to operate it and administer CPR during business hours. In recent years, other states, such as Indiana and Arkansas, have made exemptions in their laws to allow card-key gyms outside of hotels and apartments. Anytime Fitness clubs generally have a staff member on hand from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., says spokesman Mark Daly. Snap Fitness clubs, of which 700 are open and another 800 franchises have been sold, are only staffed between 15 and 24 hours a week, spokesman Patrick Strait said. ‘If there were to be some type of accident or, God forbid, heart attack, you need to have someone else in the building that is CPR-certified and trained to assist,'’ says Angela Green, the director of Fitness and Programming at University of Toledo. She adds that people who don't have proper instruction on how to use a piece of equipment increase their risk of injury. The clubs counter that their facilities are safe, with video surveillance cameras, panic buttons, 911 phones, defibrillators and lanyard to let someone know ‘I've fallen, and I can't get up!'’”

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