Do fitness instructors have the right to ask people about their health?

 This is a bit heavier of a post than usual, but I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I’d love to check my own feelings with yours. So more than usual (which is always alot), I’d love to hear what you think.

I left Equinox in July, but I still pass through the Time Warner Building location because my physical therapist is housed there. Walking by the treadmills on the way to an appointment I found my self staring at a gaunt woman on the treadmill. Her legs were so thin they barely changed size when they reached her thigh. I watched briefly as she chugged away. It looked stressful. I was confronted with a feeling I’ve had before at Equinox: Is that person well? 

Now first, I know this is none of my business. At all. I will say that upfront. But I’ve it happens so frequently at Equinox (and I’m sure other gyms) I’ve wondered if there is any protocol in place for gym employees to confront people who seem dangerously underweight.

I am not a doctor, not a nutritionist and not any kind of expert on the matter of eating disorders or body issues.But working out in NYC a question I ask myself from time to time is “Do fitness instructors have the right to pull someone aside and see if they are okay?” I don’t know how this would play out precisely, or what I expect from a person trained in fitness, but not necessarily diet, health or medicine.

But here is  my line of thought. You teach a few classes at a gym. The same woman takes two classes in a row each week. She lifts heavier weights than most and maybe she brings her own ankle weights for added challenged. And she looks unwell. I’ve saw this often in my Equinox days. And I know just because someone looks unwell doesn’t mean they ARE unwell. But what if they aren’t okay. Is it right to continue to teach them without saying anything? I honestly don’t know. What do you think?

Do fitness instructors or trainers have the right to question the health of someone in their class? I see why they might not want to. I would guess some large percentage of these people are fine, and the instructors risk alienating clients. But on the other hand, is it wrong to ignore someone you see suffering regularly?
What do you think?



  1. March 15, 2017 / 10:49 pm

    Some do! The trainers/instructors at Equinox at least have a protocol for flagging concerns. It’s super hard to know what falls on the side of healthy and not by sight, but I’ve asked the same exact question of a few trainers and every one I asked had been given training on what to look for and how to handle it. Whether they do, though, is another question entirely, and how their concern is received is also hard to anticipate. But it’s a really important thing all trainers and instructors should be trained to watch out for – and be given tools to direct any clients who might need a hand.

    • Nicole
      March 16, 2017 / 9:18 am

      That is really good to hear. Thank you, Sarah!!

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