Gym Member Suffers Severe Injuries in Treadmill Accident

Gym Expert WitnessThis case involves a client in Virginia who severely injured herself during a personal training class held at her local gym, where the facilities are fairly dark and loud. The plaintiff was at the health club in a class where members transition from floor exercises to running on a treadmill. The plaintiff transitioned from the floor exercise to her designated treadmill, which, unbeknownst to her, was left on at a very high speed. When she went to get on her treadmill, she fell and sustained severe injuries. The person who left the treadmill running was the workout class instructor, who was employed by the gym. There are rules and regulations at the gym directly instructing members and employees of the proper treadmill safety procedure, including to turn off the treadmill and make sure it completely stops prior to getting off.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please briefly describe your experience managing employee training and patron safety at gyms and workout facilities.
  • 2. What type of training should be given to employees in this setting to ensure safe and proper use of the facilities by them and by the guests?
  • 3. What type of monitoring measures should a gym have in place to ensure that machines are in safe and usable condition?

Expert Witness Response E-100353

My experience involves extensive research on exercise prescription. In addition, I have taught courses for several years focused on exercise prescription, exercise testing/measurement, strength and conditioning, exercise physiology, etc. I am a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and have presented and lectured at its conferences. Furthermore, I am part of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Research Committee and have also presented and spoken at its conferences. I am familiar with material and research demonstrating the importance of formal education, as well as proper certification, for the efficacy and safety of proper exercise programming/prescription.

Expert Witness Response E-088009

In my opinion, exercising under these conditions is an accident waiting to happen. Doing exercises that require movement from the floor to a treadmill in the dark is inherently more dangerous than in an environment with good visibility. When using treadmills for a class like this, the patrons and instructors alike should be instructed to turn the treadmills off with the button on the dashboard and then disembark; if a treadmill is not in use, it should simply not be moving. I would be happy to help with this case.


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