ACS Distance Education UK
The following characteristics can affect the comfort and fitness benefit derived from exercising indoors.
* Floor Conditions
Aerobics class are best on a sprung floor to absorb impact. A hard floor will soon cause injuries to the instructor and participants. (eg. A concrete slab floor even covered with carpet will always be harder than a timber floor laid over supported by stumps and joists).
The floor surface should be smooth and level, with no uneven boards, cracks, splinters and not be too slippery. Ideally a non-slip coating should be applied, and this checked regularly to see whether the floor needs recoating. Floor coatings are commonly used, but be careful to avoid those that might be abrasive, cause itchiness, or friction burns (e.g. some carpet materials).
If the floor is carpeted, an underlay should be used which is appropriate for exercising over. Note: some underlays are both thicker and denser, being designed to take the heavy wear that they will get from exercise.
* Height of the room
This should be sufficient that no one will hit their arms on the roof
when jumping, or that anything is hanging from overhead (e.g. light fittings) that could be hit when exercising.
These can be fixed to the walls to allow participants to observe their form and technique. It also increase safety, by allowing participants to be aware of others close, thereby decreasing the chance of collision during exercise.
This should be provided to allow for good visibility of all parts of the room, but it shouldn't be so bright that it causes discomfort.
* Air Temperature & Quality
In summer, air conditioning may be necessary to reduce the likelihood of heat exhaustion. If suitable cooling is not available, good ventilation via open doorways, or windows may be suitable, although this can allow noise, and visual distractions from outside to impact on the class. If open doors or windows are used, then suitable flyscreens are recommended to minimise problems from annoying insects (e.g. flies, mosquitoes). Air conditioners should be regularly serviced to reduce the likelihood of pathogens (e.g. respiratory diseases) breeding there.
Fresh air can also be important, particularly in small rooms or crowded places.
If a large group exercise vigorously together in a relatively small air conditioned room, oxygen levels in the air can drop and this may affect peoples performance and comfort.
* Entry and exit
In commercial situations, these should ideally be separate and readily accessible. It can be very annoying (and potentially unsafe) if participants from a class that has just finished are trying to get out, and those who are going to do the next class are trying to get in. If there was a fire, or some other emergency then two or more access points would be very important.
Avoid placing any extraneous items (e.g. pot plants, seating) that are not needed for the exercise program. The less items there are in the room/hall, then the less things to trip over or bump into, and the fewer things that require maintenance.
In commercial situations acoustics should be good, so that people can clearly and easily hear each other, an instructor, music or a television, where relevant. If possible, avoid large empty buildings which echo.
A microphone, good stereo system and speakers will often be necessary, particularly for large classes, if the instructor doesn't have a loud voice, if the music is too loud, or if there is a lot of noise from outside the class. Ideally microphones should be used wherever possible and fixed to the instructors clothing or on a head piece so that they can keep their hands free while instructing the class. If the clients find it hard to hear the instructor they will not be moving in the same direction as everyone else which can cause injuries. If the music is too soft, loud or distorted it can become unmotivating or distracting for all involved.
* Steps and other equipment
These need to be clean and in good condition. If equipment becomes loose, tattered or slippery, or starts to fall apart there is more risk of injury.
If a raised level is used by the instructor then participants can see better, reducing the likelihood of confusion about exercises being carried out. A stage however can also create problems for the instructor due to the risk of falling off. It should be of a suitable size for the activities being performed, and should be positioned so that all of the class can clearly see it, and so that it doesn't create an obstacle when the class members are actively moving.
* Mats and suitable padding.
These are often used for floor exercises increasing comfort and safety. and decreasing back problems. They can be provided by the gym management centre or sometimes by the class participants themselves.
A suitable area or perhaps shelves can be provided for class participants to place bags, towels, jackets, shoes, etc. so that they won't pose a hazard (i.e. tripped over), and can be seen clearly by the class participants (to minimise thefts). There should also be a suitable, safe, secure place nearby to store any equipment (e.g. mats, steps) that are regularly used in the aerobics classes.
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