Rising concerns for 24/7 gyms after teen’s death



Gym-goers are questioning the safety of 24-hour gyms after a deadly incident at a Brisbane  gym recently.

 A 15-year-old became trapped under 98kg weights when there was no one else around at a 24-hour gym a few weeks ago. He died in hospital several days later. 

Gyms open 24/7 are increasingly popular, with the franchise Anytime Fitness opening up around 10 new gyms each month in Australia. 

Gym-goers to Rec Xpress Sports Centre in Ormond said they were worried about what might happen if they had a problem during the unstaffed overnight hours.  

General manager Joey Calderone said the gym had become 24/7 since July 2015 and they were fortunate there had been only a few minor incidents.

“The gym is usually empty during unstaffed hours except for shift workers who come before or after work,” Mr Calderone said.

“In the case of an emergency, there are panic buttons you can press.” 

ORX gym-goer Jack Ryan, who often works out at midnight because of his “unique working schedule”, said he was extremely worried about gym safety during the unstaffed hours.

Tribute to the boy who died in an unstaffed gym a few weeks ago.

“Many people are afraid to press the panic button even in emergency circumstances as it’s a $150 fine for misuse,” Mr Ryan said.

“There is usually nobody around, it will also take so much longer to get someone on the premises in the case of emergency.”

Mr Ryan said he was concerned he could be at risk if he trained too hard during the unstaffed hours. It would be difficult to call an ambulance if he was stuck under hundreds of kilos of weights, he said.

“Even if I did manage to call an ambulance, the paramedics cannot come inside unless they break the doors because they don’t have a keycard.”

Another gym member at ORX, Tony Wong, said he had suffered minor injuries during unstaffed hours.

“I lost balance and fell on the ground while I was doing squats and my neck was stuck under a 60kg barbell,” Mr Wong said.

“Luckily it wasn’t heavy so I could roll it off but I felt helpless for a second because there’s nobody around.”

Mr Wong said he was quite worried about the safety of others who might not be as lucky as he was.  

“What if someone jumps on the treadmill and has a heart attack when there are no first aid officers on the scene,” Mr Wong said.

After the incident in Brisbane, Mr Calderone proposed a few safety amendments to the Glen Eira City Council.

“Posters of correct exercise forms should be placed on the wall and mobile alarms should be available for borrowing.” 

The Brisbane incident is being investigated by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and the gym closed.