Moms at the Gym, we need to talk. Our gym is family-friendly, which is great. In most cases, your kids are very well-behaved, and you’re always nearby.
However, in the summertime, there appears to be a loophole in our gym’s rules about young children running rampant. Sometimes in the afternoon, a storm will roll through, forcing the staff to close the pool for a couple of hours. When that happens, your kids hang out to wait for the pool to open again, and out of sheer boredom, they gravitate toward the treadmills, weights and exercise bicycles.
These unsupervised children are especially drawn to the walking track, which is on a separate floor from the check-in desk. Although a sign clearly reads that the track is reserved for ages 12 and up, no staff is present upstairs. There’s also a circular track your kids like to run on wearing nothing but flip-flops and a bathing suit.
Also on that track? Walkers and runners, many of whom aren’t on the lookout for a random child who might run out in front of us. There are also senior citizens who have difficulty walking without the help of a cane but are determined to get the exercise they need. Your children run in front of those walkers as well, sometimes coming perilously close to someone’s walking cane or artificial leg.
Another hazard? The droplets of water your kids leave on the track as they run in their swimming pool water-soaked swimsuits. Some walkers like me see them and navigate around them, but I fear someday one of the runners will slip and suffer a nasty fall.
The worst part, though, is the area stocked with dumbbells, varying in weight from 5 pounds to 15. Last week I watched as two children between the ages of 6 and 10 played with those weights while barefoot. A teenager was seated in the chair next to them, staring disinterestedly at her smartphone screen. I winced as I imagined the worst — a child dropping one of those weights on a toe.
The first entity that will be blamed is the gym. How dare it put heavy hand weights in an area where kids play while waiting for the pool to reopen? The sign, after all, says the track is reserved for those ages 12 and up. It says nothing about the hand weights that just happen to be in that same area. If something were to happen to one of your kids, would the gym be responsible? Or does the sign absolve it of responsibility? If so, that likely explains why it never says anything when a group of young kids starts climbing the stairs toward the track.
People have asked why I don’t complain about your kids. It isn’t the staff’s job to kick your kids off the running track. It’s your responsibility to either stay with them or check them into the day care. If you’re running on the track, the area with the dumbbells is not a safe place to store your kids. Otherwise, I’m not sure why children under the age of 12 would be freely roaming a gym. If you drop your kids off at the pool, trusting your oldest child to watch them, guess what! Your teenager is more interested in her smartphone screen than the safety of her siblings.
I wish we lived in a world where you could drop your kids off in a building and they’d be safe for hours. We don’t. In addition to falls, dropped dumbbells and injuring senior citizens, there are some scary-creepy people out there. Do you really want to let your kids out of your sight in a gym full of strangers?