What Is Needed To Support A Self Defense Training Program in a Health Club
By: Tim Rochford
Finding professional, qualified instructors
is crucial to the success of any program and has been discussed earlier. There are things, in addition to staff, that are important and necessary to properly develop and implement this new type of training program.
Facility - Space
Is there space available for these types of classes, based on the type of event and schedule to be set up? For example, if a series of classes is to be scheduled, a room must be dedicated to the program during the scheduled time slot.
How many people could safely participate in the available space? For example, if the
room area is 1,000 ft2 this type of training (the physical part) may only allow for 10 to 15 people to safely participate in a class. How does a limitation on participation affect the financial situation of the program?
Facility - Liability Issues
This is definitely an activity in which physical contact is required. While safety has to always be a concern during the learning process, the program must provide realistic scenarios to participants, in order to best prepare them for potential encounters on the street. Because of this, it is imperative that a facility protects itself from legal action resulting from liability issues stemming from injuries suffered during program participation.
Some protection comes from using a credible, knowledgeable, and safety-conscious
instructor staff who will perform a progression-type instructional program. Liability risks will be minimized with this type of an approach.
Additional protection comes from sound legal advise from an attorney experienced in
these types of situations. All possible scenarios about potential liability issues must be addressed. All required documentation must be created and used for the intended purposes (waiver forms, liability release forms, medical history forms, etc.).
One last part of the protection has to do with insurance coverage. Liability insurance that specifically covers these types of activities is an absolute requirement. The cost and type of coverage are the main concerns. Do some research to find the needed coverage.
Facility - Equipment
A realistic training program would use various types of equipment on which to practice striking and blocking techniques. This is part of the progression in skills. A person begins their training by learning to proficiently execute movements and techniques against the lowest level of resistance - air - to minimize injury risk. As skill performance of the various movement patterns improves, resistance (in the form of equipment) can be introduced into the training regimen and gradually increased. The keyword is "gradually". An individual cannot safely begin equipment training by immediately hitting, with full force (with bare hands, elbows, feet or knees), a 70 lb., canvas-covered heavy bag. A safer "start" would be to begin equipment training by performing strikes on soft foam, hand-held pads that would offer less resistance than the 70 lb. heavy bags. Minimizing injury risk (and possible legal action) will help to keep the program successful. Think about what would happen if someone left the class, unhappy because they sprained their wrist when performing full-force Palm Heel strikes on a 70 lb. heavy bag? Other than legal liability issues that could result from the injuries, how could negative comments by this person affect the business? Word-of-mouth "advertising" can work for the program or against the program. Negative publicity will not make success any easier!
A. Hand-held, Soft Foam Pads
These pads come in various sizes, safely allowing both arm and leg strikes. The soft
foam offer some level of resistance that is greater than simple air, but less than some higher density, heavier equipment like canvas heavy bags. This type of equipment gives the student a chance to gradually progress and adapt to the new levels of resistance (stress to the body).
B. Heavy Bags
The idea here is to progress to the next level of resistance (from soft foam pads). Heavy bags come in many shapes, weights, densities, and coverings. The preference would be to use a heavy bag that is shaped like the human body, offering a more realistic target for practicing strikes. Heavy bags can range in weight from 20 lbs up to as high as 200 lbs. A lighter weight bag can be made to "feel" heavier by anchoring the bottom of the bag or by having someone hold the bag, rather than allowing it to free swing when being hit. A heavier bag can be made to seem "lighter" by limiting the amount of power used to hit the bag with.
A bag that has been heavily used will not be as dense (hard - higher resistance) as a brand new bag. Some heavy bags are supported by a water or sand-filled base. These bags are typically covered with a smooth, non-abrasive material with a layer of soft foam underneath. Other heavy bags may be covered with canvas (very abrasive to the skin), leather, or nylon and are packed so densely that the bag feels very hard (brick-like, in some cases - especially when new) when contact is made.
C. Protective Body Pads & Mouth Guards
Anytime there is contact between two masses (in this case, two human bodies or a
human body and a piece of equipment), there is a chance for damage or injury to either one of those masses. For this reason, it makes sense to protect these masses to the greatest possible degree in order to minimize the potential for injury during training. Wearing protection on the body areas that will be used to make contact or that could be contacted is absolutely necessary, even when striking techniques are being executed on equipment.
It is a good idea to have dipped-foam or cloth covered foam pads available for students
to use. There are pads made to cover forearms, elbows, knees, shins, feet, hands, ribs, chest, and head. Also available, are special suits to be worn by students and instructors when the training progresses to realistic attack simulations (instructor "attacks" the student). These suits are intended to protect vulnerable areas of the body from injury, when used properly.
Mouth guards are necessary to maximize safety of students and instructors, during self defense training.
Add to your teaching skills
Tim has created a whole series of self defense certification courses for fitness trainers that can be studied at home via DVDs (or VHS) and manuals.
Upon completion, you will be able to teach self defense and conflict avoidance to adults, women, co-eds, and teens. And, you'll be doing your part to keep America vigilant and strong. But best of all, you'll have another profit maker on your resume.
Go to Full Description
D. Amount of Equipment
The goal is to have enough equipment to keep all participants active (and happy) during
a training session, without making an excessive financial investment. If a fitness facility partners in a self defense program with a martial arts school, the martial arts school may be able to provide the necessary training equipment. But, if that is the case, the equipment may only be available for use during the actual class times. If availability is an issue, the fitness facility might be better off purchasing its own equipment.
The amount of each type of equipment needed depends on:
- the projected level of participation (considering room area and the maximum number
of participants possible),
- the amount of storage area needed for the equipment, and
- the necessary financial investment (high quality/high price vs. low quality/low price).
Professionally and properly developing and implementing on-going, self defense-specific classes and programming can only serve to benefit a fitness facility. Review the legal aspects of running such a program with an attorney who is knowledgeable in that specific area of law. Consider the concepts, follow the guidelines and use the information outlined within this article. If these steps are adhered to, success should be the result. That success would be experienced on 2 fronts. One front would be from the business perspective - increased services offered (resulting in greater cash flow). The other, more important front would be from a patriotic perspective - KEEPIN' AMERICA STRONG!
About Tim Rochford