Thursday, June 14, 2012

Policy-Shmolicy

As many of you already know, I have been an employee at my University's gym for some time now. Not the most mind-blowing job, but I have come across some rarely captured scenes. Girls working out in stilettos, women exercising in strapless bras, a post-seizure victim running around in delirium, and even the occasional dead bird on the patio.

All excitement aside, today I was asked the most interesting question about my job to date, and it prompted my latest fact-of-the-day entry.

"WHAT IS YOUR POLICY ON DETECTING EATING DISORDERS & EXERCISE ADDICTIONS IN YOUR MEMBERS??"



The answer is... none.

So, I did some research and found that it's quite common for university fitness facilities NOT to have any particular guidelines for detecting/reporting worrisome suspects. I find this to be mildly surprising, especially in being such a high risk environment:

  1. Risk factor one- College Campus = breeding ground for stress, social pressures, and body image disorders
  2. Risk factor two- well, it is a gym we're talking about here. People attending are obviously concerned about their physical health and image in some way

In case you were wondering, most of the apprehension stems from the prohibition of non-medical personnel from making medical judgement calls. BUT-- Universities also have direct access to all sorts of outreach programs, help centers, and professional aid. Thus the resources are there, the only thing missing is detection. My thoughts are that employees should be trained to follow a standardized protocol if a certain individual displays noticeably concerning habits. Perhaps even through development of a computer algorithm that identifies dangerously frequent users? Ethics might not be such a limiting factor then- just blame mister computer if someone gets upset.



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