Q&A: Applying Risk Management to Fitness Programs

HIIT fitness programs

Risk management is usually a principle exclusively applied to facilities and equipment. But with the high number of risky fitness classes offered at clubs, it’s worth your time to practice fitness risk management.

For more insight on what fitness programs carry the most inherent risk and how clubs can mitigate that risk, Club Solutions talked to Brian Rawlings, the practice leader for Venture Programs:

CS: Are there any particularly risky fitness programs clubs should pay attention to?

BR: From a programming perspective, here are some of the highest-risk ones I can think of:

  • CrossFit, or any type of functional training
  • “Ninja Warrior” types of obstacle course training, which is becoming very prevalent
  • High intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • Kids’ programs, especially with the use of inflatables and other playground equipment
  • Aerial yoga

CS: What are best risk management practices for fitness programs?

BR: Pay attention to your waiver. Pretty much all clubs have a general waiver they’ll utilize when you sign up for a membership, but I’m always a proponent of — when you’re getting to what I would consider a more inherently risky activity, such as HIIT or functional training — layering the protection. That way, there’s acknowledgement of what’s happening in that environment and the risk associated with it.

Also, supervise these programs — for example, are your instructors using biometric software for a class like HIIT? There’s a plethora of platforms available out there now that allow the trainer to monitor the individual’s heart rate, workload and oxygen levels, etc., while they’re working out. They can ensure that individual is not over-exerting themselves while still putting forward their maximum effort in the class in a safe way.

CS: Any other risk management tips?

BR: You often need to dive down more into the more inherent risky activities. Making sure you’re taking the time to follow the proper protocols can help curb some of the larger claims and things you’ll see within the club setting. On the legal side, if you’ve got everything appropriately documented — training protocols, procedures, safety signage in your club or even information you hand out to help members be safer — you’ve bolstered your case in the future.

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