T Nation

Gym's Liability, Real and Perceived

OK, I've had it. The local gym where I work out has policies limiting olympic lifts, deads and pretty much everything that is fun and habit-forming. When I mutter that this hardly helps my training, they respond with "our liability does not permit this".

So I want to call them on this. People answer me the following if you can

  • Have their been actual cases of people suing gyms for self-inflicted equipment injuries? I know of cases where incompetent trainers have been sued, but this is not that case.

  • Those of you who have gyms where these lifts are done, how do you justify them?

(If one of you heavy-weight trainers wanted to write an article on legalities of lifting I’m sure it would be popular. Pretty please)

I would love to be able to shuffle up to them and say that this is just so much hot air, but I need facts. For all I know lawyers have made it effectively illegal to lift.

One last thing for a laugh: They refer to anything that is not a dumbbell curl or on a machine as a “non-standard lift”. Arrrrggghh! If they weren’t the only act in town I’d leave.

Thanks in Advance,

– jj

My gym in RI is facing a lawsuit because a woman (who was on a strong blood thinner) did not press the stop button on the tread mill hard enough for the button to work. As a result, she was tossed from the machine and injured. Basically, she had been jogging, and hit the stop button. She stopped jogging as soon as she tapped the stop button. But she tapped the button too lightly or missed the button completely b/c the tread mill kept going, and she was thrown off the machine. I was there and saw the aftermath. She claimed that the button failed to work at all.

However, the manager pressed the button right when he came to her aid and it stopped immediately. She claimed it was a trick. After she left, bruising badly due to her blood thinner, I got on the treadmill. The stop button worked like a charm. All you had to do was actually touch the damn thing with more than a breath’s worth of pressure. I guess now my gym will ban treadmill speeds greater than 3 mph

[quote]jj-dude wrote:
The local gym where I work out has policies limiting olympic lifts, deads and pretty much everything that is fun and habit-forming.
– jj[/quote]

Why didn’t you inquire about this before committing to a contract?

draft a waiver stating that you will not sue the gym if you somehow manage to hurt yourself deadlifting or olympic lifting. Sign it and give them a copy to keep on file, effectively releasing them from any liability.

Then proceed to drop hundreds of pounds of weight onto the floor at the end of each set of deads

[quote]Big Aristotle wrote:
draft a waiver stating that you will not sue the gym if you somehow manage to hurt yourself deadlifting or olympic lifting. Sign it and give them a copy to keep on file, effectively releasing them from any liability.

Then proceed to drop hundreds of pounds of weight onto the floor at the end of each set of deads[/quote]

I was thinking the same thing.

im proud to be american but you know what i hate about this country? how fast everyone is to point the finger at someone else for their faults.

anytime you slip, burn yourself or do anything harmful to yourself at all its never your fault.

like if youre too weak and ignorant to operate a treadmill effectively, dont use one. if youre too ignorant to deadlift properly dont deadlift. if i ever fucked myself up on deadlifts - which ive come close too - i wouldnt blame my gym for it, they didnt strap me onto a barbell and say “deadlift this with awful form or we’ll kill your family”. no, i consciously went in and did it.

to me its just pathetic. and it sucks that yor gym does it but their owner doesnt care whether or not you can do the cool lifts their owner set it up as a business and people will pay good money to run around on a treadmill for an hour and play with machines without making progress, not many people are bodybuilders you must also live a place with a much older demographic if you cant find a gym that has oldschool stuff too.

[quote]jj-dude wrote:
OK, I’ve had it. The local gym where I work out has policies limiting olympic lifts, deads and pretty much everything that is fun and habit-forming. When I mutter that this hardly helps my training, they respond with “our liability does not permit this”.

So I want to call them on this. People answer me the following if you can

  • Have their been actual cases of people suing gyms for self-inflicted equipment injuries? I know of cases where incompetent trainers have been sued, but this is not that case.

  • Those of you who have gyms where these lifts are done, how do you justify them?

(If one of you heavy-weight trainers wanted to write an article on legalities of lifting I’m sure it would be popular. Pretty please)

I would love to be able to shuffle up to them and say that this is just so much hot air, but I need facts. For all I know lawyers have made it effectively illegal to lift.

One last thing for a laugh: They refer to anything that is not a dumbbell curl or on a machine as a “non-standard lift”. Arrrrggghh! If they weren’t the only act in town I’d leave.

Thanks in Advance,

– jj[/quote]

So if you attempt to DL or perform oly lifts they stop you straight away?

I know in my gym there is an team gym which only team members of sports such as rugby can use. Now this is a state of the art gym and is used for roughly 2 hours a day!! during the rest of the day it lies in waste. And the gyms excuse when i asked them what the fuck!..legal purposes!

It seems that w/o a trainer you’re not allowed to perform anything which might remotely stimulate muscle!
It’s fucking nuts…the law fucks ppl over in so many respects in this area.
Because ya if I clean and press a weight over my head tomorrow, position it over my skull, and drop…once I get out of the coma I can sue the shit out of the gym, which is insane…

Now these type of things are very hard to protect against so a blanket statement like the one your gym seems to use is the ba-all and end-all it seems.
However if you make the point to them that this is a GYM, with installed oly platforms and whatnot I can’t see how they ban the movements(apologies if this is not true and I misread your post)…it just does not make sense

I know that a guy in my old gym fell off one of those abdominal arms straps, also someone dropped weight on their foot using a dip belt. Both parties sued the gym. The owner has prohibited the use of those items. Insurance companies see machines as “safe” and free weights as “risky”. Stupid, but true.

Yes, the highly “influential” legal, medical, and insurance industries impose these costs on you.

Your freedom to choose is determined by how many politicians corporations can afford to buy.

Yea! Corporatism.

[quote]thrasher wrote:
jj-dude wrote:
The local gym where I work out has policies limiting olympic lifts, deads and pretty much everything that is fun and habit-forming.
– jj

Why didn’t you inquire about this before committing to a contract?[/quote]

Because they used to allow all sorts of lifts. They paid a ton for a complete makeover including (I kid you not) about half an acre of machines. Then they changed their policies. I suspect that at least part of this is sales hype from the company that sold them all that equipment. I would very much like to have something firm in hand to counter their claims. I’m quite sure they have not talked to a lawyer about what their liability really is.

– jj

[quote]rock27 wrote:
So if you attempt to DL or perform oly lifts they stop you straight away?
[/quote]

Most of the people that work there are completely unskilled. They would not recognize a lot of lifts if they had too. So I could just try to get away with things but there is a larger issue here.

[quote]
I know in my gym there is an team gym which only team members of sports such as rugby can use. Now this is a state of the art gym and is used for roughly 2 hours a day!! during the rest of the day it lies in waste. And the gyms excuse when i asked them what the fuck!..legal purposes!

It seems that w/o a trainer you’re not allowed to perform anything which might remotely stimulate muscle!
It’s fucking nuts…the law fucks ppl over in so many respects in this area.
Because ya if I clean and press a weight over my head tomorrow, position it over my skull, and drop…once I get out of the coma I can sue the shit out of the gym, which is insane…

Now these type of things are very hard to protect against so a blanket statement like the one your gym seems to use is the ba-all and end-all it seems.
However if you make the point to them that this is a GYM, with installed oly platforms and whatnot I can’t see how they ban the movements(apologies if this is not true and I misread your post)…it just does not make sense[/quote]

No they did install a couple of oly platforms (grrr with no vertical clearance until it was pointed out to them that they were going to lose the ceiling quickly.) Then they had their change of heart and starting banning things.

The big issue is that they, as I indicted in another post, coughed up a ton of money for an overhaul but went totally in the direction of fitness. It’s just plain wrong to have a large facility with all sorts of state of the art equipment where you can’t actually do anything athletic.

Sigh one other facet of this is, I fear, the arrival of Therapism into the gym. By that I mean that they want to promote fitness as healthful (ok) and pseudo-medicalize it (um, nooooo). For instance, they have these really snazzy machines with all digital readouts. You plug in your little usb stick with your pre-approved training routine (you have to purchase this from them) and it monitors you as you lift. It beeps at you if you move too fast or try to move too much weight. Now for someone who has a real health issue that is probably a good idea, but making everyone do this sort of training is flat out creepy. This lets them keep an almost completely ignorant staff and sell workout plans.

There is a distinctly Orwellian air to this, compounded by the distinctly cheerful, healpful air they exude as they prohibit thing after thing. They are indeed winning the War on Fun.

– jj

Well that just sucks, but the truth which is bad news for us is that gyms like any other businesses are out to make money, and since we are a minority the best way for a gym to make money is to cater for the majority of the public, i.e. the gym bunnies, etc.

Actually on the point of liability our gym recently announced that no outside training or direction can be performed in the gym. So one day I’m showing a buddy of mine how to clean, and the gym instructors just started hovering around straight away like flies around shit. However, as most of the instructors now me they didn’t say anything…but it just goes to show the amount of liability the gyms are beginning to divert from themselves.

These types of places should be referred to as health clubs as opposed to gyms, which are places you go to work.

Anywho, if changing gyms is an option I’d go with that. Otherwise just do your best to get to know the instructors no matter how little they know, or have in common with you. If they kinda know you and recognise that you know what you are doing you might get a little lee-way.

I feel for you bud but I am familiar with both sides. Liability insurace for gym is very high. Especially if you have ‘moving bar’, suanas, and free weights.

My 2 on-site gyms have 2 different set-ups. The one I office in has ‘moving bars’ and a suana. By moving bars, I am just talking about barbells. Members can do any lift they want with them and this center is always supervised by 1 - 2 people while open.

Our other gym is not supervised except when we go over there to take care of something. We are very regularly there for more than an hour any given time. Since it is ‘unsupervised’ there are not moving bars or suanas. Our insurance dicates this as someone could ‘die in a suana or under a bar’.

That is my situation in corporate fitness.

I am sure you signed a waiver form stating that all liabilty is on you if you get injured or die while working out at your gym. So I am a little surpried at their stance. I think they are just either being overly protective or trying to set an attitude in the gym… not good.

Good luck and I would just cancel. If anyone else lifts aggresive I would tell them your plans to leave and try to sign up as a group at another gym. This may lower costs for you and point out that there is a need for this service.

Thank you for your response!

[quote]JGerman wrote:
I feel for you bud but I am familiar with both sides. Liability insurace for gym is very high. Especially if you have ‘moving bar’, suanas, and free weights.

My 2 on-site gyms have 2 different set-ups. The one I office in has ‘moving bars’ and a suana. By moving bars, I am just talking about barbells. Members can do any lift they want with them and this center is always supervised by 1 - 2 people while open.
[/quote]

The people that supervise – are they trained? One of my issues is that every staff member at this gym is untrained. They give out towels, clean off equipment and such. They do have trainers who work on some sort of commission system, so they are technically not gym employees. I ask this to see if the requirement is for competent supervision.

But I do note that you allow all lifts. Good!

[quote] I am sure you signed a waiver form stating that all liabilty is on you if you get injured or die while working out at your gym. So I am a little surpried at their stance. I think they are just either being overly protective or trying to set an attitude in the gym... not good.

Good luck and I would just cancel. If anyone else lifts aggresive I would tell them your plans to leave and try to sign up as a group at another gym. This may lower costs for you and point out that there is a need for this service. [/quote]

Even with a waiver they seem unwilling to let us lift anything now. I really think they aren’t sure what they can and can’t do but are just running scared. I’m trying to give them an anchor point to reign them in. As for cancelling, this is a small town and there just isn’t much around. At his rate I’m gonna end up in my basement…

Thanks again!

– jj

You question is probably going to be governed by State Law. Where does assumption of the risk come in? I’ve had 2 really frightening experiences trying to squat over 600 pounds. These experiences were in no way due to defective equipment or anything negligent by the gym but by me voluntarily training for a powerlifting meet and voluntarily getting under a bar with a ton of weight on it.

That treadmill example is funny but it brings me to a point. I’d be more afraid of the danger of a treadmill than a heavy barbell. Imagine running 6.5 mph and something goes wrong.You have a number of moving parts and there is electricity involved. The chances of something truly going wrong are greater IMHO and that would apply to a lot of those machines.