Gym changing room row

DW gym in Morecambe.
DW gym in Morecambe.
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A concerned gymgoer says very young children should not be allowed to share the changing room with adults.

DW Morecambe gym user Terry Bland has asked management to look at the changing room facilities for parents with children under eight after he says: “I have had to on more than several occasions speak with staff concerning young girls being in the male changing rooms.”

Terry from Fairhope Avenue, Morecambe, said: “The mens changing room was not designed for children because there are men walking round with no clothes on.

“We are really uncomfortable. I feel that young children watching me strip off and shower is not acceptable.

“I would prefer parents with children to use the family room. Children are in a place where they actually shouldn’t be. We want to feel safe coming into the gym and we want the children to feel safe.They should have the appropriate changing rooms.

“While I understand parents wish to take their children swimming, myself and others would be happier if they would at least attempt to use the family room.

“Most fully grown men would find it uncomfortable to see a little girl walking around while they are naked.”

Mr Bland felt so strongly about the issue that he contacted MP David Morris.

Mr Morris said he could not intervene because individual sports facilities were free to set their own policies and there was no legislation covering this particular issue which they were required to follow.

Scott Gerard, customer service manager at DW Sports Ltd, said: “Our club rules state ‘We ask that children use their own sex changing rooms once they have reached their 8th birthday’.

“This is in line with guidance from the Health and Safety Executive and Child Protection in Sport.

“I have spoken to Mr Bland and I have advised I will be setting up a meeting with the club manager to discuss and find a solution to his concerns.”

A spokesman for Salt Ayre sports centre said about its changing room policy: “Salt Ayre Sports Centre operates a number of changing facilities which caters for all needs and preferences. Swimming policy is that under 8s must be accompanied by an adult.”

On Facebook James Alexander Macluskie said: “I used to take my son every week until he started school, I used the family room until he was 3 ish so he couldn’t wander off, never once was it unavailable.”

Jo Heath said: “I totally understand these concerns. Not just at DW but other health clubs, holiday parks and swimming pools. Ideally there should be more family areas or cubicles.”

Les Newton said: “Being a regular at this gym I am also concerned about the lack of privacy. I think that if DW want female children up to eight years of age to use male dressing rooms then they must supply cubicles and not an open plan changing area.”

Avryl Davies said: “I don’t go to any of the local gyms through lack of privacy issues. My last gym was ruined with young boys using the ladies changing facilities.”