If you've got a membership at your local gym, you might have noticed something missing: kids. And you know why? It's because they are super lazy. If you've told them once, you've told them a thousand times to get their butt down the gym and do some exercise. The excuses are endless: "but Dad, it's too far to walk", “I don’t even know what progressive overload is” or other absolute classics such as "I'm only eight!"
Joking aside, the real reason is far more serious. The multitude of heavy, mechanical equipment makes the gym a dangerous place for children. Unsurprisingly, insurance companies are not keen to cover gym owners' liability for children under the age of 16.
Now consider your home gym: It might be a simple set up comprising of a small exercise bike and a cheap set of dumbbells; nothing compared with the behemoth squat racks, leg presses, and multi-station machines in your local gym. However, a staggering 12,714 children in the US alone are treated each year, for home exercise equipment-related injuries – most of which are associated with stationary bikes.
I’m lucky enough to have my gym set up in the garage, out of the way. However, even the smallest set-ups can pose great risks, for both adults, as well as children. So, here are some tips for keeping you and your children safe in your home gym.
Don’t Hang Bags and Scarves on Exercise Equipment
If you set up your home gym in your bedroom or living room, I’m betting you regularly hang stuff on it. If you don’t have kids, this is probably never going to be an issue, and even if you do, most stuff doesn’t pose a great risk. However, things like handbags, belts and scarves can easily double up as a noose. If unsupervised, it only takes a minute or two to become fatal. Between 1999 and 2014, in the UK alone, 29 children died from getting caught in blind cords.
If you’ve moved an exercise bike to the middle of the room to work out, make sure you move it back. In fact, try to ensure it is always out of the way to prevent trip hazards and children bumping their heads.
Wear Safety Clips/Keys When Using the Treadmill
How dangerous could a treadmill be, really? Well, it turns out the answer is fatally dangerous, as SurveyMonkey CEO, David Goldberg proved in 2015. While taking a holiday in Mexico, he fell off a treadmill at a private resort and cracked open his head. His brother, Robert, discovered him several hours later. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.
Over 60,000 Americans are injured every year while using exercise equipment. Most of these accidents are preventable, treadmill-related injuries. Ensuring you have the emergency safety/shut-off clip attached while using the device is the best way to prevent injury. The purpose of the safety key is to shut the power off if you fall over.
Use a Squat Rack or Power Rack When Lifting Heavy Weights
Even professional athletes, who lift weights day in, day out can have life-changing accidents in the gym. In 2009, USC running back, Stafon Johnson dropped the bar while pushing 275 pounds (125kg) on the bench press. The bar crushed his throat, splitting his larynx. This is just one of many examples I could share to demonstrate the risks associated with lifting heavy weights.
If you’re lifting weights at home, you should ensure you use a power rack or squat rack with spotter bars to reduce the risk of injury. They act as a support, so if you drop the weights, they hit the safety bars before crushing your chest or throat.
Keep Weights Covered with a Shroud
A few things should be considered to ensure your home multi-gym is safe. Ideally, you should keep it in a room where your children don’t go. However, this is not always possible. While not in use, you should cover the weight stacks with a shroud. After all, it’s surprisingly easy to trap your hand between weights when adjusting the pin.
If on display, children might be tempted to go over and play with the weights, potentially resulting in a serious crushing injury. When covered up, children probably won’t notice them, and even if they do, accessing the weights becomes more difficult when covered up.
I love keeping fit, lifting weights, and staying in shape. However, when it comes to my children’s safety, this passion of mine takes a back seat. I ensure we keep dangerous equipment well away from them at all times. Understandably, not everyone can set up a gym in their garage. If this is the case, make sure you move equipment out of the way when not in use, don’t hang things on exercise bikes, use a safety clip if you’re on the treadmill, and keep equipment covered up when not in use.
If you do have small children, never leave them unattended in a room containing exercise equipment, for any reason.