Almost every day, newspapers report a theft from a fitness facility’s locker room. It can be discouraging for club operators, especially as locker rooms can be one of the most difficult places in a club to protect. Cameras may monitor virtually every other area of the club, but they are not allowed in locker rooms.
Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club, Greenwood Village, CO, protects its members by providing them with secure lockers and a quality locking system that eliminates the need for them to carry (and possibly lose) a key, says Paula Neubert, president and general manager of the facility. Three years ago, Greenwood installed an electronic locking system manufactured by Digilock, Petaluma, CA.
“It took another security risk factor out,” Neubert says.
Of course, other secure lock options include padlocks, a combination lock or a card key. Club operators must pick the right type of lock for the lockers and for the club’s and members’ needs, says Bob Martin, president of custom locker makers Ideal Products, Ontario, CA.
But good security requires more than good locks, says Meredith DePersia, director of club operations at Club One, San Francisco.
“The best defense against theft is having proper security at your club entrance, having lockers and locks in good working condition and ensuring frequent locker room walkthroughs by club staff,” DePersia says.
Facility owners who provide proper security in locker rooms typically are not held liable for locker room thefts, says David Herbert, an attorney in Canton, OH, who has represented club operators. For added protection, though, Herbert advises that club operators post signs in locker rooms stating that the club is not responsible for loss or theft of personal items and reminding members to lock up their valuables. Club owners also should consider writing into a waiver of liability that the club is not responsible for locker room thefts, and stating the same in their policy and procedures manual, Herbert says.
Regardless of the security measures that clubs take, some members still do not lock their lockers, perhaps as a matter of convenience. This is especially true for members who just want a quick workout and do not need to use the locker room, says Mark Eu, advertising manager at Salsbury Industries, Los Angeles. For these members, club owners could provide smaller lockers outside of the locker room where members can stash keys, wallets and cell phones.
Placing the cubby-sized lockers near the front desk where many club owners already train security cameras seems like a logical choice, says Jeff Reedy, vice president of sales and marketing at Legacy Lockers, Dallas.
Locks and signs are not the only means of protection. Club operators also should work with their architect to design a more secure locker room. These areas should be well-lit, and the walls should be painted in lighter colors to keep the space light and bright, preventing dark corners, says Mark Bodien with architectural firm Moody Nolan Inc. and partner and director of a sports and recreation studio in Columbus, OH. The arrangement of the locker room and the lockers also is important as the room should offer a balance between privacy and security as well as a balance of scale. Keeping this in mind makes locker rooms more user-friendly and open but also offers a level of privacy without providing cover for thieves.