How Your Club Management Solution Can Protect Your Club from Predators

Here’s how you can use technology to protect your members from dangerous predators.

As a health club operator, you have a responsibility to keep your members safe. But this means more than cleaning up slippery areas and making sure equipment is in proper working order. You need to protect them from threats that may come from other members.

Health clubs are a unique environment. Even clothing stores with fitting rooms don’t have the types of challenges health clubs have when it comes to protecting the safety of customers. People work out in athletic attire that allows them to move freely and avoid overheating. Members are especially vulnerable in locker rooms and showers. Club owners have to make sure members are protected from invasions of privacy and associated risks, including the threat of sexual predators in your club.

It’s a difficult subject to talk about, but ignoring the issue is irresponsible. Sexual predators who have been convicted and listed on official sex registries may find their way into your health club. This can be a serious risk for your members.

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According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), there were 859,500 registered sex offenders (RSO) in the United States in 2016. While some regions have more RSOs than others, no state is free of this problem.

Creating a secure environment should be part of the services you’re providing. It’s time to face the issue and take action.

How to Make Your Club a Safe Place

An IHRSA briefing paper called “Keeping Kids Safe in Your Club” is a great resource for those seeking guidelines on how to introduce children’s programs into your club’s daily services. It covers general liability issues and best practices on equipment use, pool and spa supervision, and educates you on any waivers or permissions you may need from parents and medical professionals. You also need to hire staff members who know how to work with children and are thoroughly vetted.

While you may have sufficient background checks in place for staff hires and personal trainers working in your club, you can’t put every member through the same vetting process. This is where you can run into problems.

Since the adoption of Megan’s Law in 1996, law enforcement authorities in every state are required to maintain a registry of convicted sex offenders. You don’t have time to go through every registry in every state, to screen each member that walks through your door. That’s why Club Automation is taking steps to address this problem.

One of the industry leaders in health club management software, Club Automation, has integrated their CRM services with sex offender screening companies that aggregate RSO data from all 50 states. Through an API, Club Automation sends RSO checks through this thorough database and is instantly notified of any matches.

“While you may have sufficient background checks in place for staff hires and personal trainers working in your club, you can’t put every member through the same vetting process. This is where you can run into problems.”

This is how it works: When a new member (or a guest) signs up, your staff member creates a profile with all the necessary information. As soon as your staff employee clicks “Create Client,” a query runs against an aggregated database with registered sex offenders from all fifty states. The software then sends any potential matches back to you before the new member is allowed entry to your club. These matches come with enough information, including photos, that will allow you to know for sure if you have an RSO trying to join your facility.

According to Club Automation, RSO screening software not only gives your members peace of mind, it gives you assurance that your members are properly screened. This is a strong incentive for members even if you don’t have daycare services or minors in the club.

Club Automation is reinventing health club management by constantly improving functionality to deliver best-of-breed solutions. And because the RSO screening services are fully integrated, there’s no manual work involved, such as file uploads. It’s automatic, comprehensive, and always up to date, reports Club Automation.

To learn more about Club Automation’s RSO screening services and other products, visit their website or email them.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org