Why Your Fitness Centre Needs An Automated External Defibrillator

Red and white CR2 AED being retrieved by hand from a white metal cabinet

When it comes to the safety and well-being of your fitness centre members, there's one question you need to ask yourself: Does your fitness centre have an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)? In this blog post, we will delve into the importance of having an AED in your fitness centre and how it can be a lifesaving device. From the prevalence of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) to the benefits of AEDs in fitness centres, and the legal and liability considerations, we will explore why every fitness centre should have an AED.

SCA Is More Common Than You Think

Statistics reveal that more than 35,000 Canadians experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year. The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to an increase in cardiovascular cases. Shockingly, many lives are lost simply because AEDs are not readily available. By having an AED in your fitness centre, you can dramatically improve the chances of survival for individuals experiencing SCA.

Strenuous Exercise Raises Short-term Risk of SCA

Exercise is widely recognized as a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle, offering numerous benefits for cardiovascular health, weight management, mental well-being, and overall longevity. However, it's essential to be aware that intense physical exertion can also elevate the risk of experiencing a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest. While the incidence of such events is relatively low, studies have indicated that a noteworthy percentage of public, indoor sudden cardiac arrests actually take place within exercise facilities.

This information may initially appear concerning, particularly for individuals who frequent fitness centres and engage in rigorous workouts. However, it's crucial to approach this data with a balanced perspective. The findings emphasize the importance of preparedness and the presence of automated external defibrillators in fitness centres rather than discouraging people from pursuing an active lifestyle.

The relationship between exercise and cardiac events is complex. Strenuous physical activity can potentially trigger SCA in individuals with underlying heart conditions, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or coronary artery disease. Additionally, intense exercise can cause electrolyte imbalances, sudden blood pressure changes, or irregular heart rhythms in susceptible individuals. However, it's important to note that the overall risk of cardiac events during exercise remains relatively low for the general population.

By having AEDs readily available in fitness centres, the response time and chances of survival in the event of a cardiac emergency are significantly improved. AEDs are portable, user-friendly devices designed to deliver an electric shock to the heart to restore its normal rhythm during SCA. With the proper training, fitness centre staff or even fellow gym-goers can quickly initiate life-saving measures by utilizing an AED until professional medical assistance arrives.

AEDs Improve Survival Odds in Fitness Centres

Research has demonstrated that fitness centres equipped with AEDs have higher survival rates for individuals experiencing cardiac arrest compared to non-traditional exercise facilities. This is attributed to the accessibility of AEDs and the presence of trained staff who can quickly administer life-saving interventions. Fitness centres often have multiple AEDs strategically placed throughout the facility, ensuring that prompt assistance is available in key areas such as poolside, cycling studios, weight rooms, cardio floors, and entrances.

Legal Requirements and Duty of Care

In several provinces across Canada, laws exist or are being developed to mandate the presence of AEDs in fitness facilities. Regardless of the current legal requirements, fitness centres should recognize their duty of care to members and patrons. Failing to have an AED can be seen as indifference towards the safety and well-being of individuals within the facility. By proactively implementing an AED program, fitness centres demonstrate their commitment to providing a safe environment for their community.

Liability Protection

Fitness centres that have AEDs may also benefit from lower insurance premiums due to the reduced risk of liability lawsuits filed by grieving families. Having an AED not only protects the lives of individuals but also safeguards the reputation and financial well-being of fitness centres.

Success Stories: AEDs Saving Lives

Sharing success stories of how AEDs have saved lives in fitness centres can be incredibly powerful. Highlighting real-life examples where prompt access to an AED and proper intervention played a crucial role in saving a member's life can create a compelling case for implementing an AED program. These stories not only showcase the potential impact of having an AED but also instill confidence in members and staff that their safety is a priority.

Read more about the incredible stories of real people saved by the use of an AED on the AED Advantage website. 

Practical Steps to Establish an Effective AED Program

Establishing an effective AED program in your fitness centre requires careful planning, implementation, and ongoing management. By following a series of practical steps, you can ensure that your AED program is robust, well-integrated, and capable of delivering timely assistance during cardiac emergencies. Let's explore each step in detail:

1. Selecting the Right AED

The first step is to choose the appropriate AED for your fitness centre. Consider factors such as ease of use, reliability, durability, and compatibility with your facility's needs. Look for AED models that offer clear voice and visual prompts, as well as those with EMS compatibility for seamless integration with emergency responders. Consult with the knowledgeable professionals at AED Advantage who can provide guidance based on your specific requirements.

2. Training Staff

Proper training is essential to ensure that your staff can confidently and effectively respond to a cardiac emergency. Arrange comprehensive training sessions on AED usage, CPR techniques, and basic life support. Many organizations and healthcare providers offer AED training programs that can be customized to fit the needs of your fitness centre. Encourage regular refresher courses to maintain staff competence and confidence.

3. Creating an Emergency Response Plan

Develop a detailed emergency response plan that outlines the specific steps to be taken in the event of a cardiac emergency. Include procedures for staff communication, summoning emergency medical services, initiating CPR, and retrieving and using the AED. Assign clear roles and responsibilities to designated staff members, ensuring everyone understands their roles and is aware of the emergency protocols.

4. Maintaining and Testing AEDs

Regular maintenance and testing of AEDs are crucial to ensure their functionality and reliability. Create a schedule for routine inspections, maintenance, and battery replacement according to the manufacturer's guidelines. Designate responsible staff members to oversee these tasks and keep accurate records of maintenance activities. Conduct periodic checks to verify that the AEDs are in proper working order, including testing the battery life and expiration dates of electrodes and other accessories.

5. Educating Members

Member education is vital to raise awareness about the availability and location of AEDs within your fitness centre. Display clear signage indicating the presence of AEDs and their accessibility in various areas of the facility. Consider organizing educational sessions or distributing informational materials to members, highlighting the importance of AEDs and providing basic knowledge about how to respond in an emergency. Encourage members to report any potential cardiac concerns promptly.

6. Integration with Safety Protocols

Integrate the AED program seamlessly into your fitness centre's existing safety protocols. Coordinate with your facility's safety and security team to ensure that AEDs are incorporated into emergency response plans, evacuation procedures, and staff training initiatives. Regularly review and update safety protocols to align with current guidelines and best practices.

By following these steps, you can establish a comprehensive AED program that prioritizes the safety and well-being of your fitness centre's members and staff. Remember, an AED program is most effective when it is well-planned, properly executed, and supported by ongoing training and maintenance efforts. With a well-integrated AED program in place, your fitness centre becomes a safer environment, offering peace of mind to all who walk through its doors.


Implementing an AED program in your fitness centre is not just a necessary precaution; it is a commitment to the safety and well-being of your members. By recognizing the prevalence of sudden cardiac arrest, understanding the risks during exercise, and acknowledging the potential impact of AEDs, you are taking proactive steps to save lives. Complying with legal requirements, sharing success stories, and following practical steps to establish an effective AED program will further strengthen your fitness centre's safety measures.

Remember, having an AED readily available can mean the difference between life and death. By investing in an AED program, you are providing peace of mind to your members, staff, and the entire fitness community. Together, let's create a safe and heart-healthy environment where fitness thrives and lives are protected. Visit AED Advantage today and discover the best AED for your fitness facility. 

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