Gym members reminded that people are ‘just here to train’
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“People are just here to train,” is the message from our Business Crime Team to gym users.
PC Mike Lee explains:
“As people are making their New Year’s Resolutions to get fit, we just want to remind gym members and staff that unwanted attention of any kind is unwelcome.”
Last year, the team visited leisure centres and gyms across the county to talk to them about their concerns and staff informed them that harassment or unwanted attention was sometimes reported to them.
So #JustHereToTrain was born.
“It has been suggested that some gym members view harassment and unwanted attention when they are working out or attending exercise classes as ‘par for the course’ and it really shouldn’t be. “No-one should be made to feel anxious in an exercise environment. “To be fair, unwanted attention and harassment are not major issues in Essex gyms but it can happen and from conversations with gym staff they are under-reported. Even one victim is one too many.”
Most gyms have a code of conduct or ‘gym etiquette’ and staff will act if they are made aware of an issue but our business crime officers want to educate staff and customers about the laws surrounding stalking and harassment and how to report any crime.
They visit individual gyms to explain to staff how to signpost people to us and to other support agencies as well as how to report crime. They can, in turn, pass this knowledge on to members.
“The posters are aimed at prompting conversations as well as providing a useful source of information. “It helps if everyone knows what behaviour is and isn’t acceptable. Sometimes it can help people realise that when they thought they were trying to help with useful training tips, this attention was not welcomed by that person. “Exercise can be beneficial in all sorts of ways and we want everyone taking part to feel safe when they do so.”
Gareth Heard is the group sports and community development manager of Fusion, which runs leisure centres and gyms for Braintree District Council, Rochford District Council and Southend City Council.
“It’s really important our facilities are accessible to all and we pledge to make sure people feel safe. We want the gyms we operate to be safe environments. “Our gyms are safe places but I can understand that sometimes people can feel intimidated although we do our best to make sure they don’t. “If someone does have an issue we have our own procedures. But people don’t always want to say something to staff so the #JustHereToTrain posters allow them to get the information they need. “We’re a registered charity and are conscious of our community role. As well as anxiety about the gym environment, there are other barriers, whether that be disability, cultural differences or financial and we are always looking at ways of breaking them down so more people can be active. “We operate a Social Spaces project at our Witham and Halstead leisure centres, supported by Braintree Council, where we invite people in on Wednesday mornings. We have to heat them anyway and we offer free tea and coffee and get access to the gym and swimming pool for a reduced price. “It’s just another way we like to look after people and ensure everyone who uses our facilities feels safe.”
What can I do?
More than 60 gyms and leisure centres across Essex already support our #JustHereToTrain campaign.
If you are a manager or a member of gym staff and want one of our business crime officers to visit you to talk to you about it, please email [email protected]