Fun and Fitness: Take responsibility for your safety

It's always funny when you hear people complaining about filling out waiver forms for any type of event. We hear all the groaning and moaning in the J building when people have to complete their physical activity readiness and consent forms. Heaven forbid that agencies look out for your best interests and try and keep you safe! These important forms aren't just for the sake of covering our own butts, they also serve a greater purpose in educating people about the inherent risks of physical activity in a fitness facility.

When you walk through a fitness facility, you can easily pick out potential hazards that could put someone in a dangerous situation. Scattered weights and equipment usually top the list in this category. The funny thing is, it's our members who are responsible for this. You also have unsafe practices that can lead to injury: improper spotting techniques, lifting inappropriately heavy weight, over-training and uneducated training techniques provide ample opportunity for things to go seriously wrong.

Health and safety concerns are often overlooked and it is not just health clubs that are the culprits here. Schools, restaurants, malls, grocery stores and just about any type of business can be just as guilty. Most of us have seen it all, and unfortunately for some of us, we've been on the receiving end of these safety “shortcuts.” Tripping on cords, slipping on wet floors, getting food poisoning, you name it — the possibilities are endless!

Employers and employees have to ensure their facilities are a safe environment for everyone involved. This includes themselves, visitors, contractors, customers and anyone else who may pass on through. While they may be responsible for WHMIS, emergency action plans and every other area related to safety, that doesn't leave the rest of us off the hook. As customers and guests, we need to exercise personal precautions and common sense safety practices: washing our hands, putting our equipment away, not running where it is inappropriate and keeping on the lookout for potential hazards in general.

Another daily threat to our general safety is a lack of communication and miscommunication. People in the fitness centre will often shy away from telling that person that they are endangering themselves or others by their improper training techniques. We have horns in cars to communicate, but unfortunately we only use them when we are pissed off at another driver. Chances are, you probably communicated with another driver today by waving them on to go ahead. Keep in mind that a kindly act such as that one can make you liable if that same driver happens to get hit by another vehicle.

It is amazing how things can go absolutely right or absolutely wrong in a matter of seconds. One second you are having the best workout of your life; the next, you are in the ER for something that was completely preventable.

Let's face it: unless it is an act of God, there are no accidents. There are just incidents that could have been prevented. Make sure the people you pay your hard-earned money to are doing everything in their power to keep you safe. But more importantly, make sure you are doing your part, too!