For me, this conversation started in 2013. I was in the gym with my friend at 07:30am one morning. This was our regular routine, where we would workout in the morning before a day filled with exam preparations. Upon entering the gym, I couldn’t help but notice a young girl running hard on the treadmill. As I got closer to her, I noticed that her running time on the treadmill was approaching 1 hour. I also noticed how unhealthy she looked and how prominent her bones were. The best way to describe her is for you to imagine someone with anorexia. I was uncomfortable watching her.
It was clear to me that this girl had orthorexic and anorexic tendencies and so, I was not surprised to see her behaviour that day. But what I was surprised with, was the way that several members of gym staff were just stood around watching her like this wasn’t a cause for concern. It was a really quiet morning and it would have been impossible to have not noticed this girl and the fact she had been running at such intensity for a long time. I stood there aghast and wondered why no member of staff had approached her and persuaded her to call it a day and maybe offer her some form of assistance. It was so obvious that she needed help and to be stopped. But then it occurred to me, perhaps staff at this gym (and all gyms for that matter) aren’t trained to: identify obsessive behaviours, intervene and have difficult conversations with a member, refer them to relevant professionals for help and in some cases, politely deny entry if it is apparent they are a danger to themselves.
While this may be a widely debated topic, I truly believe that leisure centres and staff should be doing more to spot and deal with such behaviours, rather than leaving members to do their thing. After all, they’re paying members and it’s not in their job description do deal with these sorts of things, yet! But is this something that should be part of their job description going forward? What could this look like in the future?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic and so please do comment in the comment section below on whether you think gyms and their staff should intervene if someone is displaying unhealthy behaviours. If you or someone you know is affected by the topic today please head to Mind where you can access useful helplines and websites
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