Dear Editor,

I read with interest your articles on the use of AEDs in health clubs (“First Word” and “The AED Agenda,” February 2005). We are one of the club groups that bit the bullet and purchased AEDs for each of our 21 clubs. We also installed an AED in our home office. We wanted to send a clear message to our members and staff that their safety was very important to us.

The decision to purchase AEDs came quickly. It was shortly after the near death of a racquetball player who was saved when EMTs used an AED on him within 5 minutes of the call.

It is more than simply investing $2,000 per facility. The bigger commitment is training staff to use AEDs and be ready. In Florida, it is a requirement to have someone trained in the use of AEDs at all hours of operation. Given the higher than average turnover rates for employees working the early morning and late evening shifts, this was a challenging task, but we have done it and are proud of it.

Now, our AED window decals are visible to every member entering and exiting our club, and the defibrillator is visible to members working out on the main floors. The positive press we have received has been extensive. Local television stations and newspapers have picked up this story fueled by the PR efforts of the American Heart Association.

On a personal note, I am 54 years old and work out five times a week — two of these visits are to play racquetball. It is comforting for me to know, if the need arises, I am only a few minutes from an AED. After all is said and done, the life we save could be my own!
Geoff Dyer
Lifestyle Family Fitness

Dear Editor,

How right you are about the high risks facing children, especially in low-income families (“Obesity Rises in Low-Income Children,” January 2005). Unfortunately, reaching out to them is very difficult. As the owner/operator of a 21,000-square-foot gym in Washington Heights, New York City, I have found it very frustrating.

I have offered free boxing classes, tried to get local merchants as sponsors, approached local public schools and even tried the mayor's office. So far, no success. Everyone agrees there is a problem, but bureaucracy prevents any action.

I would be thrilled if you had any suggestions to allow a breakthrough. I have a tremendous facility, including two aerobics rooms. I don't need to make lots of money from these kinds of programs; I simply need people to attend.
Jay Hirschhorn
New York, NY

Dear Jay,

Thank you for your efforts to help low-income children as they battle obesity. I hope that by publishing your letter, perhaps another club owner who has faced this dilemma in the past will contact you to let you know how he or she attracted the market that you are seeking.

The Editor