Latest Public Sector News

10.09.12

Disabled access at gyms criticised by charity

Many gyms are ‘no-go zones’ for disabled people and are a barrier to the legacy aims of the Paralympics to increase participation in sport, a charity has found.

A survey of gyms and leisure centres found that many are partially inaccessible, difficult to navigate and expensive to join. Some do not have any specialist gym equipment for members with disabilities and nearly half had staff without any training in disability awareness.

The research was conducted on behalf of the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability and showed that one-third of 300 facilities did not have an automatic door at the gym entrance.

Others findings were that many lifts were too small for wheelchairs, with the buttons set too high, or with lifts that were broken. A quarter of gyms did not have hoists to help disabled people get into and out of swimming pools.

The charity said: “Gyms and leisure facilities are a crucial ‘first point of entry’ to sports and physical activity for most adults. Yet for many disabled people they are ‘no-go zones’.

“Inaccessible changing rooms, steps, poor staff training and lack of usable sports equipment are some of the common barriers that can prevent disabled customers from getting involved.”

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