How to Increase the Lifespan of Your Backboard | PSS Guest Post

 

How to Increase the Lifespan of Your Backboard
Guest Post by Performance Sports Systems

Identify Your Play Level

When choosing a backboard, first evaluate what your level of play will be (e.g. collegiate competition play, high school competition play, youth/k-8 play, or recreational play).  Matching your backboard to your play level will ensure that your board can withstand the level of usage without damage or multiple replacements, thus increasing the lifespan of your board. In addition, it will prevent overspending on equipment that you don’t need. The major high school and collegiate athletic associations have rules regarding backboard size and material, which removes much of the guesswork when making purchasing decisions for these levels of play. However, for youth and recreational play, consider usage level, player ages, and budget when deciding on an appropriate backboard.

Determine Your Play Environment

It’s also important to match your play environment with your backboard type in order to maximize the lifespan of the board. Is your basketball court in an indoor facility or an outdoor court? Indoor basketball systems are much more versatile in that you are not limited by weather or vandalism concerns when choosing your board material. However, if you have an outdoor court you will want to consider weather elements, amount of usage and exposure to the general public, and the possibility of vandalism when choosing a board type. Steel and aluminum boards are the most popular for outdoor use because of their strength, durability, and rust prevention (aluminum). Glass and acrylic boards have also become more commonly used outdoors, although manufacturers typically recommend those for residential and private play settings. Ensuring that you have the correct board type for your play environment will prevent damage and misuse, adding years of life to your board.

Choose a Breakaway Goal

A breakaway goal should be used on your basketball system whenever possible. The spring mechanism in a breakaway goal lessens the stress placed on the board when dunking occurs. This is especially important if you are using a glass backboard, as it will greatly decrease the chance of your board breaking during heavy play or over a long period of time.

Use a Direct Goal Attachment

A direct goal attachment occurs when the backstop (i.e. outdoor post, wall-mounted structure, ceiling-hung structure, or portable system boom), backboard, and goal are all connected together at the same location. This attachment method allows the load and force of the player to be transferred to the backstop if a player dunks or hangs on the rim. If a rim is connected to the bottom of the board and the backstop is connected to the middle of the board, the load is transferred directly to the backboard when a player dunks. This increases the risk of premature damage and breakage of the board.

Follow Manufacturer’s Guidelines

Always install backboards in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Proper installation will prevent possible damage to the board during assembly and will ensure that your system is correctly set up to withstand play activities.

Perform Annual Inspections

All basketball systems, regardless of equipment type or play level, should be inspected at least once a year. All backboard connections to the backstop should be checked to make sure they are secure and tight. In addition, inspect board components such as struts and frames for damage and replace if needed. Regular maintenance of your boards will ensure that they provide years of safe, worry-free use.

 

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Building Safety Month: A Guide to Resources

  When it comes to our Maintenance Solutions Team, Safety is Priority Number One for our school districts and facility owners and their patrons. We’ve developed our blog series, Bleacher Safety – What’s Your Risk along with numerous safety and code compliance blog posts, presentations, and white papers. Recently, we launched our Gym Safety Sessions where our Service Manager,…

Gym Safety Sessions: A Follow Up

Not long ago, we were invited to a facility for a Gym Safety Session. There were approximately 12 people in attendance, many understood why they were invited to attend and some had obvious frustration that their attendance was required, they operate the equipment on a regular basis after all, so why should they attend?

This is a large facility, multiple gymnasiums, two large bleacher banks that were installed 20+ years ago along with extensive athletic equipment including divider curtains, basketball back stops, batting cages, and more. With a facility this large and many coaches passing through, there are a lot of hands on the equipment. They recently had repairs completed on both the bleachers and the divider curtains, spurring the Gym Safety Session to ensure their equipment would continue to operate properly post-repairs.

Again, why should everyone attend? Even if they already know how to operate the equipment?

Simple. You don’t know what you don’t know.

And.

Every once in a while, with that many hands on deck, it’s good to get everyone back on the same page.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

It can seem simple, plug in the pendant controller and push the button….open the panel box and flip the switch. But if you don’t know what you’re looking for during operation, there are hazards and possible equipment damage. It’s good for everyone operating equipment to have a baseline of understanding on operation and troubleshooting.

During our session, we did a crash course on proper operation, including trouble shooting and walking under the bleachers. We reviewed best practices for the facility and who should actually be operating the bleachers.

One of the options on this particular set of bleachers is to short set them, closing the first three rows of a section for scorer tables and allowing for more room on the court for team seating. When a section is short set, the increased height of the first row is now +/- 4ft. and requires a guardrail to be placed in front of it for safety and code compliance.

Staff members shared their concern regarding sight lines when the guardrail is in place and inquired about cutting down the guardrail so it would still be there, but it would be shorter, allowing their patrons to have better sight lines.

Enter safety and code compliance.

It’s important to note that the guardrails were designed and installed by the manufacturer to meet code compliance at the time of installation to keep people from stepping off of the front of the bleachers when the first three rows are closed in that area, preventing a fall hazard. Thus, altering the height of the guardrail would go against manufacturer’s design and recommendation. Often doing so, would also void any warranties on the equipment and would place all liability on the facility, not the manufacturer.

They were very wise at this facility to bring up the question while we were there. Ultimately, you don’t know what you don’t know so asking an expert when it comes to modifying a component on your bleacher is always a good idea.

More information regarding code requirements for guards can be found in Chapter 4 of the ICC-300, remember Ohio currently follows ICC-300 2012 as of November 2017. Otherwise, the most recent published version of the ICC-300 is 2017.

We took a similar approach with athletic equipment, reviewing proper operation and best practices while answering additional questions. The main panel of operation in the main gymnasium was non-momentary switches that do not require a key for operation. The switches are housed in a panel box, but as of that day, the panel box remained unlocked, allowing easy access to the equipment switches.

The gym is typically locked so access isn’t always as feasible, but what about when the gymnasium is full of people? Anyone can open the panel and flip the switch and operate the equipment. Should this happen with someone that didn’t know what they were doing, they wouldn’t know when to stop, especially if the limit switch was faulty. The end result would be damage not only to the equipment such as a backstop or gym divider curtain, but to the structural components of the building’s roof. There is also the potential hazard of a falling piece of equipment and having it come down on spectators.

All switches should be momentary type where if you let go of the switch, it automatically springs back to the off position. Many modern options are also available and recommended including a Keypad Group Controller, Touch Screen Group Controller, and WIFI Group Controllers.

Since our Safety Session, the facility has agreed to keep the panel locked to reduce unauthorized access to the non-momentary switches.

Every once in a while, with that many hands on deck, it’s good to get everyone back on the same page.

More and more facilities are posting signage in their gymnasiums warning patrons not to stand on the bleachers (seats) and that bleachers must be in full open position before use. Some facilities go so far as having written directions for operation, including remove pendant controller after bleacher is located and operator is responsible for the safety of individuals on, around, and below bleachers.

It’s not a bad idea to have a set of rules for operation including, but not limited to:

Bleachers
Athletic Equipment

Building Safety Month: Gym Safety Sessions

Telescopic Bleachers

Have you ever felt like you need a refresher course on the proper operation of your equipment? Or maybe you have new personnel that need to be trained on safety and operation. Whatever the reason, we want to help.

What We’re Offering: To come to your facility for a 2-hour gym safety training (timing may vary based on attendees and facility)

Includes: Telescopic Bleachers, Athletic Equipment

Knowledge Base: Education on proper operation, safety, and preventative maintenance that YOU can do to maximize on the life-cycle of your equipment.

Cost: None. Zero. 

The Catch: Absolutely none. Our mission is to continue to educate the community on bleacher and athletic equipment safety. Many of you have expressed interest in additional knowledge and this is a hands on opportunity to continue your education, right in your facility. 

Opportunity: Invite the district, invite the county. Collaborate with others to make the most of the session.

**Gym Safety Sessions only offered to facilities in the state of Ohio. 

Interested?

Contact Kami Wernimont, 614-882-0790 x13 via email

Building Safety Month: 5 Safety Products You Need In Your Gym | PSS Guest Post

Hussey Telescopic Bleachers


5 Safety Products You Need In Your Gym

Guest Post by Performance Sports Systems

Equipment Locks & Safety Straps

Locks and safety straps are designed to prevent ceiling-hung and wall-mounted gym equipment from falling in the event of a cable or winch failure. If the equipment were to malfunction and start to fall, the lock or strap would engage and stop the unit from creating more damage and possibly injuring players, fans, or facility personnel. Safety straps should always be installed with non-stationary ceiling-hung and wall-mounted basketball systems, and equipment locks should always be used with mat storage systems and electrically-operated divider curtains.

Padding

Padding is an inexpensive and effective way to make your gym equipment safer by preventing injuries when athletes come in contact with sports structures. Backboards should be padded to prevent head and hand injury. Volleyball uprights and referee stands should also be covered with pads to lessen the chance of players getting hurt when bodily contact occurs. In addition, walls, columns, and beams should be padded, especially if they are in close proximity to the play space or are located in heavy play environments.

Tempered Glass Backboards with Breakaway Rims

If your facility uses glass basketball backboards, make sure that you’re purchasing boards manufactured with tempered glass. Tempered glass is defined as toughened glass that has been treated by heat or chemicals to increase its strength. Tempered glass also reduces the risk of injury to players due to its nature of breaking into small circular pieces instead of sharp jagged shards, in the unlikely event of a board shattering.

It is also strongly recommended that you use a breakaway rim with your glass board, in conjunction with a “direct goal” attachment. A direct goal attachment means that the board, rim, and backstop are all connected together at the same location on the unit. This will help disperse a large portion of the load put on the system away from the board, helping to prevent breakage of the glass if excessive dunking occurs on the rim.

Mast Retainer Safety Bolts

The mast retainer safety bolts are located on the single post mast of a ceiling-suspended basketball structure and are a crucial component of the system to ensure the safety of players and personnel, as well as to prevent damage to the equipment. The safety bolts are located at the bottom of the mast behind the backboard, underneath the bottom mast clamp U-bolt. A quick look by a manufacturer’s representative can determine if the safety bolts are present on your mast, and they should also be able to recommend a local certified installer who can install the bolts if needed.

Floor Sleeve Cover Plates

Traditional indoor volleyball systems are typically installed in floor sleeves that are installed into gymnasium flooring. Depending on the post size, the sleeves can create holes with inside diameters of anywhere between 3” and 4” and depths of 12” or more. Ideally, cover plates should be purchased and installed in conjunction with the floor sleeves in order to cover the sleeve holes whenever the volleyball uprights are in storage areas or otherwise not installed in the sleeves. If installed properly (flush with flooring and locks are closed), cover plates can prevent tripping or limbs getting stuck in the floor sleeve holes.

As always, it’s important to have a certified installer routinely inspect your sports equipment to assess its condition, make recommendations regarding replacements, and determine if there are any safety concerns that need to be addressed.

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Building Safety Month: Earth Wind & Fire & Outdoor Bleachers

Outdoor Bleacher Clean Up

We talked previously about cleaning the bearing surface for your telescopic bleachers, but how often are you cleaning up under your outdoor bleachers?

We’re taking the perspective of Safe and Sanitary with this one. You want to make sure your understructure is free of combustibles including unruly vegetation and stored materials.

If you do have stored materials that are combustible, you want to be sure to have proper sprinkler systems in place to prevent a fire from starting, spreading, and harming your patrons. Remember, a disaster like this is less noticeable when the grandstands are full of a cheering crowd and with smells of summer and fall mixed in; smoke is not as easily detected. Taking the proper precaution to keep patrons safe is a priority.

Fallen leaves may appear harmless, but they’re quick to catch fire and spread should someone drop something through the stands. They should be cleared out as often as possible to prevent a fire hazard as well as to prevent moisture build up after a downpour.

Vegetation under the bleachers trap in moisture, becoming a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and mosquitos while also causing wooden ground bucks on portable bleachers to deteriorate.

While you’re likely not thinking of your outdoor bleachers while staying warm inside, the winter weather does have an impact on them. Our weather here in Ohio has been pretty unpredictable, torrential downpours one day and snowstorms with high winds the next then bam, it’s sunny and 58 degrees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All this to say, make sure your bearing surface is free of standing water. A block of ice surrounding concrete supports acts as a vise, ultimately deteriorating the concrete.

With all of this, you’ll want to make sure your bleachers are always on a level service. If portable bleachers do not have properly installed or damaged mud sills/ground bucks or if foundation column supports are damaged, the unit may sink and/or become unstable.

Earth, Wind, and Fire it’s not just a great 70’s band, it’s what impacts your bleachers through the seasons.

 

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Safety in Operation: Telescopic Bleachers

Telescopic Bleachers

Quick, show of hands – how many of you were at the original telescopic bleacher demonstration for the bleachers in your gymnasium?

In a group of 10, we’re lucky to have two hands raise up, sometimes one. This is by no fault of your own but it is our goal to make sure that you have all the information you need to safely operate your telescopic bleacher unit. This is one of many reasons we offer free Gym Safety Sessions, so we can not only review operation but we can also answer questions pertaining specifically to you and your equipment. While the below information isn’t as comprehensive as a Safety Session, we do want to point out some helpful tips.

Opening Your Bleachers:

Pendant Control

Get Your Pendant Control.
Seems a little obvious, right? But I say this because only Authorized Personnel should be operating your bleachers, this means that your Pendant Control should be stored in a safe place that only those authorized can gain access to it. Opening and closing the bleachers may seem like a simple task, and to a point, it is – but you want to make sure you know what to watch for and that you’re taking every safety and operational precaution into consideration.

Before operation, you want to be sure that the area is clear of people, debris, and dust (see cleaning under the bleachers). You’ll want to check under the bleachers as well as the area the bleachers are opening to.

Once you’re sure the area is clear and you’re plugged in ready to go, keep your eye on the bleacher unit to be sure it’s opening correctly and that all banks are opening together, not skewed across the gym floor. Make sure you bleacher opens completely before detaching the Pendant Control.

Take the Pendant Control with you once you’ve opened the unit fully. Even if you plan to close them again, the last thing we want to happen is that you go under the bleachers and someone closes them not realizing you’re there.

When you’re done, put the Pendant Control back in its stored location.

Additional Set Up:

Aisle Rails

If you don’t have Auto-Rotating Aisle Rails (you should!), you’ll want to make sure every aisle rail is turned and properly secured for the safety of your patrons. A loose rail can be a major hazard for someone trying to catch their balance or worst case, some have pulled them out to use against another patron.

Floor to First Row Aisle Steps, if you don’t have them hinged (again, you should and we can do that for you!) you want to make sure to install each one properly before use. We’ve heard the debate several times, “but they’re a hazard!” Well, no. They’re not. The reality is, according to the International Building Code, if your bleachers were manufactured with removable first row aisle steps – code compliance dictates that you must use them.

Bleacher Aisle StepsThese steps are designed to maintain varying height levels of steps to reduce trip/fall hazards because they were happening frequently (without the steps in place). If you have varying step heights on your unit and someone isn’t paying attention when they are walking up or down the steps, it is likely they could miscalculate their step and trip or fall. This trip and fall hazard increases your liability risk!

Flex Row Operation. If you have Hussey Seating Company Bleachers, be sure you know the proper way to open and close Flex Rows. Hussey has a great Flex Row video along with several tutorials here: Hussey Seating Company

If you have a Safety-End Closure Curtain (they’re great for school spirit AND more importantly restricting access to the understructure of your bleacher unit), you want to make sure it’s securely attached.

For many, this is all of the set up you need, for others you may have additional guard rails or accessories. Make sure they properly installed and all hardware is tight.

Closing Your Bleachers:

Telescopic BleachersThis is where you backtrack. Make sure your aisle steps are removed and stored. Most aisle rails can be left in the proper in-use position or you can turn them. If you’re turning them, again make sure all hardware is tightened. Get your Pendant Control from its stored location. Check under the bleachers for debris and dust that may impact properly closing your bleacher unit. It may seem impossible for things to fall through – but you’ll be surprised at what you might find. Check the surrounding area so that it is clear for closing. As you are closing the unit, be sure that, again, your eye is on the unit and that it is closing consistently.

Warning Signs Telescopic BleachersWe’re noticing more and more districts and facilities are putting up reminders regarding operation of their bleacher units to keep safety at the forefront. By focusing on safety, you’ll also be focused on operation which will increase the longevity of your equipment.

Have Questions?

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Marlinton Local Schools | High School Bleacher Replacement

Hussey Seating Company Telescopic Bleachers

 

In May 2018, Farnham Equipment Company’s Maintenance Solutions Team performed an indoor Telescopic Bleacher Inspection on Marlington High School’s 57-year-old wooden bleachers and found more than 30 violations, including several improper upgrades.

The major issues were handrail weight limits and a lack of enclosure, which made it a safety concern for the district’s insurance provider. - The Alliance Review

Less than one month later, the school board voted to replace the bleachers with new Hussey Seating Company Telescopic Bleachers with the intention of having them installed prior to the first home volleyball game.

The Dukes’ new telescopic bleachers reawakened the gymnasium’s school spirit with orange guard rails and aisle rails, a signature logo “M,” and a custom Safety End Closure Curtain, a far cry from the 1961 wooden bleachers.

On behalf of the Marlington Local School District, we would like to commend you and your company on a job well done. Our new High School bleachers are outstanding and have exceeded our expectations. The order was put in later then desired but you and your company pulled it all together to have us up and running by our first volleyball game. Of all the projects, we have done at Marlington, we have to say this was the easiest and best run operation.

Further, we would like to pay special thanks to your install crew, led by Joe Robinson. They came in early Monday morning and were out by Thursday afternoon with the job complete. Joe also always took the time to stop and talk as we brought through our donors and board members.

The final product is amazing and please feel free to send potential buyers our way, we would love to show off our product. - Steve Miller, Marlinton High School Athletic Director

1961 Bleachers
Hussey Telescopic Bleachers
Hussey Seating Company Telescopic Bleachers
Hussey Seating Company Telescopic Bleachers
Hussey Seating Company Telescopic Bleachers

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Top 5 Preventative Maintenance Tips: Outdoor Bleachers

Outdoor Bleacher Repair

 

Don't wait until you can see your face through your structural supports - add our Top 5 Preventative Maintenance Tips to your seasonal checklist!

  1. Structure: Check for visual signs of structural damage including Bent and Damaged Supports and Hardware, Erosion, and Rust.
Outdoor Bleachers: Rust
Outdoor Bleacher Damaged Supports
Outdoor Bleacher Rust
Outdoor Bleachers Erosion
Outdoor Bleachers Rust

4. Hardware: Tighten loose hardware and replace missing hardware. It's important to turn the wrench on every one!

Outdoor Bleachers Hardware
Outdoor Bleachers Hardware
Outdoor Bleachers Hardware

3. Seats & Endcaps: Replace missing and damaged seats and endcaps, tighten all hardware, and make necessary repairs.

Outdoor Bleachers Seats
Outdoor Bleachers Seats

2. Clean Up: See our previous post for more clean up tips!

Outdoor Bleachers Clean Up
Outdoor Bleachers Leaves
Outdoor Bleacher Clean Up

1. Annual Inspection & Seasonal Checks: This will always be our number one recommendation for safety and preventative maintenance!

The Ohio Building Code requires an annual inspection for safety and operation. We add that you should be consistent in seasonal checks due to the impact the outdoor elements have on your bleacher unit, specifically the expansion and contraction of aluminum that happens during the winter months.

In the Ohio Building Code 1029:
1029.1.1: Bleachers. Bleachers, grandstands and folding and telescopic seating, that are not building elements, shall comply with Chapters 1-4 of ICC 300. Referenced as, ICC 300-12, ICC Standard on Bleachers, Folding and Telescopic Seating within the Ohio Administrative Code, 4101:1-35-01 References.

Within the ICC-300, you'll find in Chapter 1:

105.2 Yearly inspection required states:
The owner shall cause all bleachers, folding and telescopic seating, and grandstands to be inspected at least once a year in order to verify that the structure is maintained in compliance with the provisions of this standard. All folding and telescopic seating shall also be inspected to evaluate compliance with the manufacturer’s installation and operational instructions, including an inspection during the opening and closing of such seating.

Outdoor Bleachers
Outdoor Bleachers

Want More Information on Code Compliance?

We've developed a reference guide for your convenience!

Preventative Maintenance: The How-To & Why

 

Given the right care, your telescopic bleachers will last generations, but it takes effort, care and knowledge on your part. Just like your car needs an oil change, your telescopic bleacher needs preventative maintenance to ensure proper operation.

We mentioned previously that our number one care tip is cleaning under the bleachers. Here are a few others to add to your list:

Hardware: Loose and missing hardware. This one is pretty basic, you want to make sure the hardware throughout your unit isn’t damaged, rusted, missing, or loose. This goes for the understructure, aisle rails, guardrails, seat components and so on. Your hardware should be looked at on a regular basis during normal operating procedures. If you see something wrong you should fix it or have it fixed to prevent additional damage to the components that it is holding together.

Missing or Damaged Row Locks: Row locks are an important component of all telescopic bleachers. They are needed to prevent one row from closing before it is intended to be closed to stay in the proper sequence. There are many people out there that work on bleachers that say it is ok to just take the row locks off if they get damaged if the bleacher is powered. This is not the case. The typical damage is from unauthorized people going under the bleachers, tripping on the row locks and bending them, causing additional problems. This also happens to some manufacturers’ interlocking guide rods. When you catch them with your foot and they pull out, the structural frames are no longer interlocked together and it creates a problem with guidance and structural support.

Damaged Seats: Cracked, damaged, and loose seating can cause an unstable seating surface for your patrons and can cause a cut hazard with sharp edges and splinters. Baseballs can break the faces of Wood Planks/Riser Boards and the faces of Plastic Seat Modules. People stomping on the tops of seats can break holes in them also. When either one is broken, there are sharp edges that can injure your spectators. These items should be repaired. Loose hardware on seats can also cause someone to fall resulting in personal injury and liability.

It’s also worth mentioning:

Bent Cantilever Frame Arms: Are your bleachers sagging? Are you having trouble opening and closing your system? Your cantilever frame arms being bent or damaged is one of the most likely causes. Your bleachers are installed to last the lifetime of your facility with proper maintenance and care. Part of that maintenance and care is making sure that your bleachers are used properly. We’re not saying that everyone has to sit quietly in the stands and limit the shifting of their weight though. Our bleachers are installed for the most fanatic fan – in the open position. In every O&M manual, you’ll see a statement similar to this one:

“Do not allow people to climb, sit, or stand on tiers other than the Flex-Row modules of the MAXAM system while closed.”  And, “Do not leave any section or bank open without the Flex-Row modules being open at the aisle locations.”

– Hussey MAXAM Owners & Maintenance Manual.

 

Students and patrons climbing and/or sitting on the top tier of the bleachers while they are in the closed position is one of the main ways cantilever frame arms get damaged.  Another common problem we have seen is when people are sitting on the upper tiers in the closed position, they tend to want to jump down to the lower levels. This not only can be very dangerous for the person doing the jumping, but very bad for your cantilever arms and your bleacher decks. It will also be costly to repair since misuse of the system is not covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.

What does it impact? Cantilever frame arms are vital to the life of your bleachers. They attach to the main frame essentially holding up each bleacher deck which makes it easier to open and close your system. If they start to bend or drag, the bleacher decks will start to rest on top of one another causing unnecessary friction during operation and sometime stopping operation all together and causing a continuous flow of premature wear to spread through your seating system.

What to do? If you don’t already have warning labels or signs in place stating the bleachers should not be occupied in the fully or partially closed position, you should add them. If you are in need of these warning labels, you can contact us and we would be happy to get you what you need!

It’s best to be sure anyone using your system: Athletic Directors, Coaches, Maintenance, etc., is aware of these rules and guidelines because what may look like a cool place for students to sit could end up costing much more.

If you need only a small section of seating, you can use your Flex-Rows if you have them, otherwise you should open the entire bank. You also have the option for a secondary locking system for partial seating.

For example, with a 15-row bleacher, you can set a secondary locking system on the bleachers to open only 8 rows of seating and still be locked safely in the open position. When in this position, you can incorporate a top closure to cover the seating rows that are still in the closed position to prevent people from climbing, sitting, standing and storing things on telescopic bleachers while in the closed position. See how Botkins Local School District does this with their telescopic bleachers.

Want to Learn More?

Schedule your FREE Gym Safety Session