Gym membership in America has risen every year since 2000, and now that the new year has arrived, gyms should be pretty packed — at least for the time being.
According to TripSavvy, getting fit is the 2018’s second-most popular New Year’s resolution, behind spending time with family and friends. US News and World Report says that 12 percent of all gym memberships begin in January, with 9 percent starting in February and another 9 percent in March — compared to an average of 8.3 percent in other months.
It’s crowded in there this month — with lots of newbies, lots of lines, and lots of safety risks. And we don’t mean the kind of risks from lifting too much weight. If you don’t stay aware, the gym can be a risky place: lots of people coming and going while you’re self-absorbed. But there are ways to stay safe, and keep your stuff safe, while you’re working out.
Avoid Late-Night Workouts
Yes, that 24-hour gym is oh-so-convenient. But late at night, your gym is less likely to be fully staffed, your parking lot is more likely to be deserted, and it’s much easier for creepers to be creepy. Those lines and newbies can be super annoying. But so can a skeleton crew of help and no one available to walk you to your car in the hours between really late and really early.
Practice Proper Parking Protocol
Park under a light, near a security camera (you picked a gym with security cameras in the lot, right? Or near a parking facility with security cameras — which are proven to drop crime by 50 percent). Make sure all your valuables are out of sight, in your trunk, or preferably out of your car all together — but not in the gym. Keep them home, thank you very much. Walk to your car purposefully, cell phone and keys in hand, aware of the situation around you. If it’s dark, ask the gym for someone to escort you to your vehicle.
[For more parking tips, check out our Security Tips For Parking Lots And Parking Garages.]
Keep Your Stuff Secured — Or Away From The Gym
One popular gym chain has a line of hooks for you to hang your keys on. A thief just has to pick up a set, walk into the lot, and start clicking the automatic lock button until they hone in on the correct car. Don’t use the hooks.
For that matter, don’t use unsecured lockers for your gym bag: your keys, your phone, your wallet, your gym card, your clothes, even your sneakers and towel. Pick a locker on the end, where it’s more likely to be in other people’s field of vision and hence less likely to be tampered with. Bring a padlock, and not a cheap one. Use it, and carry the key on a chain around your neck or a workout-friendly bracelet. And bring as few items as you possibly can. And it goes (almost) without saying: no expensive jewelry or watches, please.
Keep Tabs On Your Items
There are some things — like your phone and headphones, your gym card, maybe your phone, your towel — that you absolutely want to bring with you to the gym. That increases if you’re hitting the pool, when your gear quotient ups exponentially.
Be deliberate. Know what you have with you, and memorize it in order: “Water-phone-headphones-card-towel,” or the like. Develop a habit of repeating it after every single machine or move you make, and checking you have every single item on the list as you repeat it. That way, you don’t leave anything behind.
In The Washington Post, Detective Sonya Richardson of the Falls Church Police Department said of gyms, “What’s unbelievable is that people think their property is safe there.” The Post goes on to note that “Locker rooms are smorgasbords of unattended jewelry, electronics, credit cards and cash, but they don’t have security cameras and often are designed to allow for privacy.”
Of course, you need to use the equipment safely and know your own physical limits. But you also need to be aware of the people around you. Watch your stuff, take steps to keep yourself and things safe, and use common sense to make sure that if thieves are around, you’re not the one they target.