Each time you enter a health club, what’s the first thing you normally see – the people working at the front desk, right? I've always found this ironic because it seems to me that the front desk staff are also the very same people that health club managers appear give the least thought to. This is a mistake because they are critical. They are the nerve center when emergencies happen. Regrettably, its been my experience the owners of fitness centers do NOT train them properly – putting YOU at risk. Also see the Gym Emergency Procedures review.
That’s very sad because health club general managers and owners should remember that the people at the front desk are not just there to check who is entering the fitness center. The fitness center front desk staff can also be the first line of defense when it comes to keeping members safe from crime or medical emergencies. A recent incident got me to think about this.
In July 2010 a woman was raped after leaving an LA Fitness in Washington. The perpetrator of this horrible crime ran up behind the woman in the parking lot of the gym, after she left the fitness center at midnight.
Could this crime have been prevented if the person working at front desk watched the woman as she walked to her car?
I don’t know, but this is a question that I think the fitness club industry needs to talk about.
If you belong to a health club – or work there yourself – how many times have you seen the people at the front desk:
- Text messaging
- Talking on the phone
- Reading magazines
- Doing homework
- Flirting with the fitness staff
If you work out on weekends… Find nobody at the front desk!
I see this all the time. Do you?
While many fitness centers have become better prepared for catastrophic emergencies like heart attacks, what emergency training does the front desk staff receive?
Unfortunately, I dont think most get any training in emergency procedures.
As proof of this, in 2012, a horrible incident occurred at Planet Fitness in New York. Early one morning on February 6 2012, a 22 year old women named Emily Hamiln died after entering the ladies locker room following a workout.
Security video from the incident shows that when the first women informs the front desk person of the incident, the male front desk staff person not only did not call 911 but says that he did not know what to do and that was was not allowed to go in the ladies bathroom.” Only later, after a second women runs to the front to tell what happened does he call 911. Really?
Here is the security video. Watch it. Share it with others. This should NEVER happen again!
I'm hoping that these words don't fall on deaf ears and that something good comes from these terrible incidents.
If you work at the front desk of a health club, I know it can be boring –especially on a weekends. But I want you to remember that bad stuff happens when we do not expect it, and that while you may not think about it, you CAN make a difference in the lives of others in ways you may not even be aware of.
If there is a medical emergency, you ARE allowed to go into the bathroom and locker-rooms of the opposite gender. Its our moral responsibility to help others, if we are able, no matter what the perceived consequences might be. I personally have entered ladies locker rooms during medical emergencies.
As I read this out loud to myself in preparation for posting, a friend of mine who happened to be visiting remarked “but nobody cares.” Is that really how people feel? Is it really true that nobody cares about what happens to their fellow human beings? Does our moral obligation to safeguard health club members end when they walk out the door or go into taboo places like locker rooms or bathrooms?
I believe personal trainers and front desk staff need to think about this before they become involved in this industry. Working in at a health club is not like working at the local convenience store because at any moment, when we least expect it, bad stuff can happen. When it does happen, how will you react?