Five Crucial Hotel Fitness Center Liability Issues

By Kurt A. Broadhag President, K Allan Consulting | October 28, 2008

Hotel fitness centers, regardless of their location, have a universal obligation to provide guests with a safe, healthy workout environment. Whether the hotel invests in the gym as a guest perk or a profit center is of little concern - the facility operations should focus around the concept of risk management.

Hotels are no strangers when it comes to liability risks. Guests are met with rules and regulations, waivers and releases to sign upon check-in all put in place to protect the hotel from risk of a potential lawsuit. Staff members are trained to constantly be on the lookout for risks throughout the facility and either take steps to eliminate the risk or inform management.

The typical health club hosts a litany of liability risks. Whether through user error or negligence on the part of the facility there are inherent risks associated with the activity of exercising. Contraindications associated with members pre-existing health conditions, often left undiagnosed, can lead to life-threatening emergencies. The act of exercising in itself places the body under extreme loads and compromising positions that can result in injury from improper instruction or equipment failure.

Although hotel gyms do not produce nearly the same amount of foot traffic as a normal gym these risks can be multiplied. Everyday health clubs have the benefit of walking new clients through the workout process - explaining the release form, defining the rules and regulations of the club, providing orientation and free workouts with equipment instruction, and always having staff on hand to deal with emergency issues. Hotel gyms are often un-staffed and tucked away inside out of the way of the front desk. As a result guests are left to monitor their own safety, figure out correct exercise equipment operations, and deal with emergency situations on their own.

As a hotel, how do you protect yourself from liability issues associated with the gym? Developing a comprehensive risk management plan and taking steps as early as the design phase to limit liability is a must in protecting your hotel from litigation arising from injury to either a guest or your staff inside the fitness center. Risk management within the gym centers on a comprehensive plan that facilities should adopt to create a clean, safe environment for both your guests and staff. Following is five crucial areas within the fitness center that should not be overlooked. With the proper planning and risk management plan in place, addressing these issues can drastically reduce your hotels liability.

1. Improper Facility Design

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