Over Exercise: How Should the Recreation Facility Respond?

July 04, 2011

Karen S. Miller
Registered Dietitian/Nutrition Educator
Edited by Christopher Dulak, Dr. Janet Crawford, Katie James
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Imagine you are walking by a sauna and you see a woman doing steps on the benches; or you see a male participant who has moved an exercise bike into a sauna to exercise. Imagine you are seeing a middle aged women exercising on a treadmill, her body emaciated to the point of having no muscle tone. Or you see a “normal” weight participant who has been working out in the building for three hours. What is your response, what action is appropriate?

You may ask: “So what?” What “should” we do? What is appropriate? We know it’s an issue, but what action do we take?”

Occasionally there will be a story of over-exercise to bring the subject to the headlines. People Magazine reported on Peach Friedman in “Exercise Almost Killed Her” (Souter, et al, 2006). In a side bar segment they also mentioned actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler and her bout with “exercise bulimia.” Today’s Dietitian reported: “Exercise Abuse: Too Much of A Good Thing” (Jackson, 2005). And Fitness Magazine carried: “I Am an Exercise Addict” (Schein & Copeland, 1994).

In a society that idealizes and promotes the perfect body; with role models like The Biggest Loser (at least 4-5 hours of exercise daily) and with the pursuit of rock hard abs and tight butts, how much exercise is too much? When is it time for the fitness profession to step in and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!?
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SOP — Suspicion of Unhealthy Eating or Exercise Behaviors

May 12, 2011

Sarah DiSabato
Associate Director, Facilities
Recreation and Wellness
University of Central Florida

Today, University Recreation Facilities are attracting a diverse and large number of participants. A significant number of staff who operate our facilities and run our programs are student employees. As they strive to provide the best recreation facilities and programs, an important goal is to deliver great customer service – and doing this means you need to know your participants and what their needs are. A sensitive topic which continues to be a challenge is the issue of student users who appear to be exercising excessively and/or those who exhibit behaviors of unhealthy eating habits (restricting food or binge eating and utilizing exercise to purge). How do our student employees and professional staff handling this? A framework that the University of Central Florida devised provides the staff with some guidelines as we work our way through responding to those with unhealthy eating or exercise behaviors:

– When a building employee has identified the behavior of a user to be characteristic of someone with an eating disorder or overly obsessive exercise habits, the employee should immediately notify the Fitness Coordinator.
– During this time, the employee should also begin to initiate causal conversations with the user in hopes of forming a relationship; the users name should be one of the first pieces of information gathered.
– The same employee should remain in contact with the user – not different or multiple employees.
– The Fitness Coordinator will start a file on the user documenting all interactions with building employees and facility usage.
– All interactions with the user should be reported to the Fitness Coordinator immediately and it will be the job of the Fitness Coordinator to keep the file updated.
– The intent is to have the employee try to form a genuine relationship with the user in hopes the user will open up to the employee.
– If a good relationship is established, the employee and the Fitness Coordinator will speak to the user about possible avenues for getting help, such as the Counseling Center. The Fitness Specialist may assist the user in scheduling an appointment and may even accompany to the appointment if need be.
– Follow up with the user will be conducted by the employee and the Fitness Coordinator.

Using a team approach, the department uses many resources to try and be of help in situations such as these. Relationship building is our primary emphasis in establishing the communication needed for intervention and referral.

One Push-up too Many – the Risks of Training the Out-of-Shape

April 07, 2011

Katharine M. Nohr, Esq.
Nohr Sports Risk Management, LLC

Considering the growing trend of obesity, even amongst young people, sports and recreation programs will continue to be faced with training and offering services to the out-of-shape individual. To what extent is a duty owed to protect someone who has not worked out for a long time against the risks inherent in starting up a physical fitness program? Very recently, a California appellate court addressed this issue in Rostai v. Neste Enterprises, 138 Cal.App.4th 326 (2006)

What is the duty owed to protect someone who has not worked out for a long time?

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Dating At The Gym: What’s Appropriate?

April 07, 2011

Fitness Coordinator, Johns Hopkins University

If you watch the Bravo television series “Workout,” you’ve seen the entertaining and sensationalized side of gym-culture, spliced in with some of the realities of personal training. Recently the series called into question the ramifications of intimate relationships in the workplace. Jackie Warner — the owner and managing director of Sky Sport and Spa, the Beverly Hills gym featured in the show — began dating one of her employees, a personal trainer. When questioned on the affair, she stated, “A gym is a very different environment than say a bank or corporate structured environment. I’ve dated other trainers that have worked for me. Trainers date clients. Clients date clients. I mean, there’s flexibility in our environment… It’s just an easy environment to date in.”

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Developing a ‘Safety Training Grid’

April 07, 2011

Ian McGregor, Ph.D.
President, McGregor & Associates

Training employees in various safety protocols is a critical part of any department’s risk management plan. The challenges are numerous:

  • Significant number of part-time student employees
  • High turnover of employees
  • Significant number of training protocols to cover
  • Consistency of training between program units

Some departments adopt a ‘centralized’ approach to safety training i.e. all ‘essential’ training is coordinated centrally, usually through one person or a training committee (with individual program units responsible for any training specific to their program e.g. aquatics ‘in-service’ training). Other departments require each functional unit to be responsible for their own training (which potentially results in inconsistencies within the department unless someone is monitoring or tracking overall training efforts).

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Health Screening in Group Fitness Classes

April 05, 2011

Fitness Coordinator, Johns Hopkins University

If you supervise any group fitness classes, you’ve likely mulled over the professional standards for screening the participants that take part in the classes. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) states that a health-risk appraisal or medical health history should be obtained from every participant in an activity program. Strictly from a managerial and logistical perspective, the more participants that are in the program, the more general the health screening may need to be, and the less able you are to track individual health conditions. But from a prudent perspective, you should at least offer something to gauge a participant’s risk and it should be as in-depth as you can handle. When choosing how to screen for health problems, consider the following issues:

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