Fitness | Fitness First Aid and Gym Safety

“I’m certified in CPR,” I tell all new clients. “Please don’t make me prove it!” Because the last thing I want to do is perform chest compression on a client who’s in cardiac arrest. But if the worst should happen, you definitely want someone who is trained and certified in CPR and First Aid. How do you know if you’re in good hands?

Safety tips for the gym come in many forms. Take a look at the gym itself. Does the gym have a first aid kit? Are the staff members trained in CPR? Are there obvious fire extinguishers and exits readily available? Does the gym keep an automated external defibrillator (AED) on hand? Is the equipment well maintained and kept up-to-date? In general, most gyms you will frequent have followed these guidelines which aid in public safety.


Now take a look at your trainer. Most states require personal trainers to be certified and to have CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation), AED (automated external defibrillator) and/or first aid certification. (Missouri does not!) The top five personal training certifications are 1) NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), 2) ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association), 3) ACE (American Council on Exercise), 4) ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), 5) NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association). ALL of them require CEUs to renew every two years and ALL of them require current CPR/ AED/ First Aid certification. So if your trainer’s personal training certification is up to date, so is his first aid/ CPR certification. But even if no one is requiring you to have comprehensive first aid certifications, it’s a good idea for every fitness professional to take this training and get certified through the American Heart Association, or the American Red Cross.

Now take a look at yourself! The best medicine is still prevention and there are a few simple guidelines you can follow to stay out of harm’s way as you get into shape:

Stay hydrated. Though this idea seems obvious, it’s easy to forget. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your workouts. Consider BCAAs and electrolytes, too! Avoid exercise on a completely empty stomach, too.

Always practice good form. There’s another reason all those mirrors are there besides taking selfies. Good form is better than more weight. Strict form will prevent injuries and increase your longevity in the gym.

Use a spotter. An alert spotter can help you push past your known limits and minimize your risk to injury.

When in doubt, ask someone. Swallow your pride and ask staff or more experienced members how to use a machine or what good form looks like. Some gym members look scary, but they’re all there for the same reason.

Philip Hitchcock is an independent, Certified Personal Trainer specializing in “Fitness after 40,” Resistance Training and Weight Loss. He maintains his own client base and is also the exclusive trainer for the Four Seasons Hotel. Check out