INDIANAPOLIS, IN — The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has revised its health and fitness facility standards and guidelines and is asking for comments about the revisions from industry professionals.

Last month, ACSM's editorial team created a draft of its third edition of health/fitness facility standards and guidelines to be released later this year. Most of the proposed standards are merely more detailed descriptions of existing standards, said Stephen Tharrett, president of Club Industry Consulting and lead editor of the guidelines.

The exceptions are the two standards related to automated external defibrillators (AEDs). One addresses the need for clubs to have an AED, and one pertains to the need for all staff involved in performing pre-activity screening, counseling and fitness instruction to have AED/CPR certification.

The guidelines were originally developed and continue to be revised because the fitness and health club industry has received mounting pressure from government agencies and other groups to set a higher standard of care for itself, particularly as it applies to issues of health and safety for facility users, Tharrett said. Issues such as fitness professional credentialing, public access defibrillation and pre-activity screening were being brought to the attention of the industry, the public and government. Much of this attention was caused by the increased number of fitness facilities serving markets with higher health risks than ever before.

ACSM put together a panel of industry experts from the commercial fitness club business, YMCAs, colleges and universities, and the medical and exercise physiology fields to develop the guidelines. The goal was to offer the industry a set of standards and guidelines that would address health and safety issues being set by various public advocacy groups, by courts rendering decisions in legal cases and by government. The new version of the standards will help elevate industry practice related to health and safety issues for users, Tharrett said.

To review and comment on the proposed standards and guidelines, go online to www.acsm.org. The open period for comment will be from March 1 through April 3.

ACSM plans to have an ongoing Web form posted so that feedback to the book can be collected after it is published to help the editorial team develop the fourth edition.