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Times of India
26 June 2010
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India

With Rising Injuries, Health Ministry Looks To Regulate Fitness Centres
EXERCISE CAUTION EXERCISE CAUTION
Does your gym have a qualified trainer? If not, its days could be numbered.
With an increasing number of young people injuring themselves, sometimes seriously, due to wrong or excessive weight training – thanks to unsupervised workout sessions in local gyms – the Union health ministry is all set to deal with the rapid rise in the number of gymnasiums with an iron fist. The matter has been taken up seriously by minister of state for health Dinesh Trivedi.

In a recent letter to Union health secretary K Sujatha Rao, Trivedi said, "In recent times, there is a mushrooming growth of gymnasiums for physical workouts in most cities of India. Given the modern day stressful existence, paucity of time and lack of availability of open spaces in big cities, these gyms offer good opportunity for workouts for health conscious citizens and are, therefore, used by a vast number of people, especially by the younger generation." "However, due to absence of any regulatory mechanism in place, many such facilities operate without certified trainers or first aid facilities. Even machines are not always maintained at levels desired by their manufacturers. These inadequacies result in turning many of such gyms as sources of constant health hazards."

"I feel there is a strong case for our ministry to intervene and devise an oversight mechanism to either licence or certify periodically to regulate hitherto unregulated gyms in the larger interest of health concerns of the beneficiaries," Trivedi said. Sources said the ministry is now planning to have a meeting with gym owners, doctors and experts to devise a strategy that will regulate such gyms.

Speaking to TOI, Trivedi said, "Just like a pharmacy should have a pharmacist, similarly a gym should have a qualified trainer. These fitness centres need to be regulated and gyms functioning without proper trainers should be taken to task. We are in the process of devising a full–fledged strategy to ensure youngsters don’t injure themselves because of a faulty exercise regime."

Dr J P Manocha, orthopedic surgeon at Sitaram Bhartia Hospital, said, "Youngsters with back and shoulder injuries caused by wrong exercising keep coming to us. Training in gymnasiums done without a proper warm–up and supervision could cause serious health hazards. This could lead to bed–rest for weeks to months and in some cases a lifelong injury. A qualified trainer in every gym is a must." Dr S K S Marya from Max Hospital added, "Trainers should be trained in training others. Gyms need to be regulated."

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