Gym Safety Tips

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Gym Safety

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Last night, something happened that shook everyone up in the gym. It's something that nobody likes thinking about. A young college student was the victim of poor communication and an ineffective spotter. He will probably have to undergo reconstructive facial surgery as a result.

As I arrived, the fire department, police department, and paramedics were all well represented by vehicles outside the training facility. The first thing that came to mind was that someone had passed out during a cardio session. I didn't figure that it was truly serious. Upon entering the accident scene, I discovered how entirely wrong I was.

At the front desk area a young main lie with bandages covering three fourths of his head. You could see one eye and part of his mouth and nose. I immediately inquired what had happened.

This young student had been trying to perform decline dumbbell presses. However, he wasn't doing them on the decline bench. He was doing them on the incline situp board - with the level on the HIGHEST SETTING! He then asked his roommate to give him a spot. The roommate was uncomfortable doing so. However, upon persuasion, the roommate obliged in handing the dumbbells to the kid. This is where the problem came into play.

The would be decline presser had not yet secured his grip on the dumbbell when the spotter let go of the weight. The 40lb. dumbbell came crashing down square into the left half of the young students face. From talking to onlookers and gym staff, it looked liked the student's eye socket area was crushed and part of his ear was badly torn. The student was conscious and talking when I arrived shortly after the incident had taken place. Paramedics had him nicely bandaged and were readying to transport him out on a stretcher.

This disaster illustrates the importance of communication between spotters and exercisers. YOU MUST TALK. People think I am overly instructive to my spotters, but this example is the reason why. I don't want to be the one being escorted out on a stretcher. A simple, "I've got it," would have saved this entire accident.

Always clearly describe exactly what you want your spotter to do during the exercise and let them know what your verbal cues will be to "help, lift off, or rack," during the exercise execution. This is especially important amongst beginning weight trainers and people who don't regularly spot you.

In over twenty years of training at commercial fitness facilities, this is the only major incident I have seen. Weight Training is a very safe and effective way to condition your body, but you must communicate while in the gym. Don't take anything for granted.

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