Spring 2022: Health clubs newsletter


Throughout last year, various recommendations were provided to Markel Specialty’s health club clients to support a positive client experience. The top five recommendations focused on the following: 

  • Equipping facilities with spotter signs 
  • Maintaining and posting facility rules for clients to review 
  • Reviewing emergency action plans with staff 
  • Having staff that are First Aid/CPR/AED certified 
  • Maintaining a maintenance log 

Equipping facilities with spotter signs 

The recommendation for spotter signs typically involves the free weight areas of a gym. The free weights area is one of the most dangerous areas in a fitness facility. This area often goes unsupervised and needs additional protection. Warning signs in this area can substitute as an additional staff member as they may remind club members of the dangers inherent with using free weights. A spotter can significantly decrease the risk of injury in the following ways: 

  • Reduce the chance of a person getting pinned by a bar while exercising 
  • Reduce the chance of a person dropping a weight and hitting another person 
  • Reduce the chance of overexertion from using heavy weights 
  • Help improve form and technique 

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) - Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines, signage standards: 

Standard 1: Facility operators shall post proper caution, danger, and warning signage in conspicuous locations where facility staff know, or should know, that existing conditions and situations warrant such signage.

Standard 5: All cautionary, danger, and warning signage shall have the required signal icon, signal word, signal color, and layout as specified in ASTM F1749. 

Maintaining and posting facility rules for clients to review 
Health clubs should post facility rules signs for members to view. All facilities, including personal training facilities, should post rules signs to promote client and membership awareness of facility expectations. Prominently posting facility rules throughout a club can enhance risk management efforts and provide clients with a positive experience.

Reviewing emergency action plans with staff 
This recommendation is typically provided when a health club has a formal, written Emergency Action Plan but has not rehearsed it within the last 90 days or longer. 

The ACSM offers the following regarding the review of emergency action plans with staff: 

  • Facilities must have written emergency response system policies and procedures, which must be reviewed and rehearsed regularly, as well as documented. These policies must enable staff to handle basic first-aid situations and emergency cardiac events. 
  • Facilities must have as part of their written emergency response system a public access defibrillation (PAD) program. 
  • All facilities, regardless of size, must have an Emergency Action Plan. An Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is a formal, written plan designed to create safety awareness among staff members. An EAP should prepare staff members for all foreseeable emergencies that could happen in a health club setting. 
  • The plan should cover injuries ranging from sprained ankles to cardiac emergencies. The plan should also cover topics such as automated external defibrillator (AED) placement and use (PAD Program), fire extinguisher locations, emergency evacuations, etc. Developing an EAP should be an ongoing project. You can always make it better. Practicing your EAP will make it strong and keep it fresh in your staff member’s minds. 

Having staff that are First Aid/CPR/AED certified 
This recommendation is provided when less than 50% of the staff members are certified in CPR and AED techniques, which is a combined certification. Having a CPR/AED certified staff member on duty at all times allows an injured person to receive quick, qualified medical assistance, if necessary. CPR/AED certification prepares staff members for the following medical emergencies: heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), stroke, diabetic emergencies, epilepsy, and asthma. 

Markel Specialty health club programs’ expectations are: 

  • At least one CPR/AED certified staff member must be on duty at all times. 
  • That at least 50% of your staff be CPR/AED certified at all times. 
  • CPR should only be provided when outside medical help is not readily available, or a life is in immediate danger. CPR should only be administered by a staff member whose CPR certification is current. 
  • Include AED use in your Emergency Action plan and review it with all staff members every ninety days. Monthly practices are recommended, and keep records of practice dates. 
  • If you don’t have 50% of your staff First-Aid certified, then there must be one certified person on duty at all times that the club offers supervised hours. 

Maintaining a maintenance log 
Maintenance logs are very important in establishing a record of equipment repair. Maintenance logs should be used when major repairs are performed on equipment. These repairs include upholstery repairs, cable or chain repairs, and any structural repairs. In the event an accident was to occur involving a piece of equipment, a maintenance log could be used as proof that management maintained the equipment according to the manufacturer’s standards and guidelines. Maintenance logs should be kept on file for as long as a particular machine exists at the facility. 

  • All equipment manuals should be kept on file as long as the equipment is in use at the facility. 
  • Maintenance logs should indicate who performed the work, what repairs were made, what parts were used, and the date the repairs were made. 

You can view additional resources that may offer solutions to the risks your business may be exposed to by visiting Risk Solution Services | Markel Specialty.  


  • Sanders.Mary, ACSM’s Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines. American College of Sports Medicine. Fifth Edition. Human Kinetics. Reno, Nevada. 

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