Standard for Fitness Facility Certification Still in Discussion

The NSF International draft standard for fitness facilities is now in its 14th revision. If and when the draft standard will be completed remains uncertain.

Last month, members of the NSF International joint committee on health and fitness facilities met by teleconference to discuss revisions to the latest draft standard, which was released in March. As of press time, the committee had planned another conference call that could determine a timetable for when the standard will be balloted.

NSF International, the not-for-profit, non-governmental organization based in Ann Arbor, MI, is helping to create a standard for health clubs so that club operators and owners can volunteer to have their club certified under the guidelines of the standard.

NSF said last month that the target date to start the 45-day balloting process for NSF Draft Standard 341 would be later this month, around the same time as the start of the public commenting period for the standard. Further discussion could delay the start of the balloting and commenting process for months, says Stephen Tharrett, the deputy chair of the joint committee for NSF.

“It seems some members of the joint committee may not be considering all the realities of the industry when it comes to their positions on the standards,” says Tharrett, who also is the senior editor of the soon-to-be-released fourth edition of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines. The third edition was used as the basis for the NSF draft standard, which includes definitions of the components of a health or fitness facility as well as forms for a facility safety audit and a safety inspection.

“Through further discussions,” Tharrett adds, “the goal is that the joint committee will reach an understanding that will allow the standard to be approved in a fashion that is beneficial for both the industry and consumers.”

In October 2009, the joint committee voted 10-9 in favor of the standard. After the vote, little additional action occurred until February, when Walter Thompson, chair of the joint committee, responded to individuals who commented on the draft standard.

Organizations represented in the development of the standard include manufacturers, trade associations, regulators and other stakeholders from the fitness community. The goal of the standard is to help make fitness clubs a more respected resource in the eyes of the public. Doctors would be more comfortable sending their patients to a certified health club for post rehabilitation or simply to lose weight, for example. The same comfort level would apply to insurance providers.

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