Choosing the right gym AED is vital for fitness clubs looking to provide proper safety for their club members. In 2018, there were more than 6 billion gym visits across 39,570 health facilities in the U.S. That’s an average of 150,000 visits per club. Couple that with the fact that strenuous activity boosts a person’s risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), and it’s easy to see why it’s critical to have the best AED in your gym.
Every fitness center should have an automated external defibrillator (AED) at the ready. These devices are up to 90% successful at preventing death in the event of cardiac arrest. The key is choosing the right device for your facility.
Are Gyms Required to Have an AED?
Laws regarding whether an AED is required in gyms vary by state. The following states require health clubs to have at least one automated external defibrillator:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
How to Choose an AED for a Gym
Some features are universal in modern defibrillators.
- They tend to be small in size
- They perform regular self-tests to ensure readiness
- They deliver shocks to the heart with one-button control.
Other features will vary by model. When comparing automated external defibrillators for a fitness facility, certain qualities are especially important.
Ease of Use
You don’t know who will be clocked in when an emergency strikes, so it’s critical to have an AED that’s simple enough for any layperson to use. Look for models that offer real-time visual or audible instructions for both CPR and defibrillation. One- or two-button models are best, as you want a simple, streamlined operation.
Ease of Movement
When a cardiac event occurs, you have to act fast to get the person’s heart rhythms back in order. Grab the AED from its cabinet and rush across the facility to the victim. In other words, you need an automated external defibrillator that’s both lightweight and durable. Look for models that under 5 pounds and those that have undergone and passed rigorous drop testing.
An automated external defibrillator shouldn’t be a huge financial burden. Most fitness centers operate with extensive overhead costs including maintenance, personnel, and fitness classes. You don’t want to spend more than necessary on your defibrillator. A quality model will start at around $1,200 to $1,300, though recertified models are also available at a discount.
The Best AEDs for Gyms
When choosing an AED for your gym, keep in mind that not all brands are created equal. You want to opt for an FDA-approved brand like Philips, HeartSine, PhysioControl, Zoll, or Defibtech. When looking at pricing, portability, and ease of use as deciding factors, certain models stand above the rest.
First Place: Defibtech Lifeline VIEW
When it comes to ease of use, the Defibtech Lifeline VIEW is unparalleled. It’s the only automated external defibrillator to offer full-color video demonstration in real time. On-screen personal coaching demonstrates CPR, rescue breathing, and external defibrillation. The user can even toggle between different types of lifesaving instruction depending on their level of training.
The VIEW is perhaps the best AED for gyms. It has won awards for its lightweight ergonomic design. It weighs less than 3 pounds but has withstood crush-testing up to 1,000 pounds. It also has the highest available rating for drop/shock testing and is water- and dust-resistant. If you have to race this device across the gym in an emergency, you never have to worry about the consequences of dropping it.
The Defibtech Lifeline VIEW costs $1,820. Though it’s not the most inexpensive device available, it’s still a bargain considering its unparalleled ease of use.
Second Place: HeartSine Samaritan PAD 350P or 450P
The Samaritan PAD 350P and 450P are two of HeartSine’s best and most cost-effective models – and they are a near-perfect gym AED device. Each model offers real-time CPR and defibrillation coaching for both novice and experienced users, and their simple two-button operation eliminates confusion in an emergency situation. One button turns on the device and initiates the coaching process, and the other button delivers shock.
Like the VIEW, these models are lightweight and durable. At 2.4 pounds, they’re the lightest defibrillators you’ll find, but they still boast the highest-available durability ratings, including an IP56 Dust & Water Rating.
The Samaritan PAD 350P is available for just $1,350. The Samaritan PAD 450P is available for $1,685. The latter model has all the same features as the 350P plus HeartSine’s CPR Rate Advisor. The Advisor is a cutting-edge feature that uses electrodes to provide visual and verbal feedback on CPR and coach the user accordingly. This ensures accurate compression based on the exact needs and heart rhythms of the cardiac arrest sufferer.
Third Place: Philips HeartStart OnSite AED
The Philips HeartStart OnSite is another affordable option that’s easy to use. The whole unit comes pre-assembled; you just have to pull the green handle to begin the cycle of daily, weekly, and monthly self-tests. Audible and visual instructions guide you step by step through the CPR process; the voice prompts are guided by visual diagrams on the display.
The OnSite weighs 3.3 pounds with everything installed, and it also comes with a slim carrying case for added protection and convenience when you’re in motion. For an extra charge, you can bundle your OnSite defibrillator with a rugged case or waterproof case for even greater protection.
The Philips HeartStart OnSite is available for just $1,465, making it the most cost-effective AED for gym safety. The standard carry case is available as an add-on for $66 more. The waterproof case is an extra $192.
Top Accessories for Gym Defibrillators
Gym owners will also want to stock up on basic accessories when purchasing an AED for their gym.
- A wall cabinet: A cabinet provides you with a secure, central location for your defibrillator. Many AED cabinets can be connected to your central security system to signal an alert in the event of an emergency.
- Extra pads and batteries: If your pads or battery fail for any reason, you need to have extras on hand. Batteries can fail, and pads can only be used once. In addition, these parts have expiration dates. Make sure to equip backup AED batteries and pads that fit your model.
- AED signage: If you live in a state that requires defibrillators in fitness clubs, proper AED signage may be mandated as part of your compliance. Every club should have wall signs and inspection tags; an AED wall poster can also be helpful for guiding staff members in the event of an emergency.
In many cases, you can purchase an AED package that includes the AED along with many of the above accessories for one low price. For example, you can find a comprehensive package for the following models:
- Defibtech Lifeline VIEW package
- Philips HeartStart OnSite package
- Samaritan PAD 350P package
- Samaritan PAD 450P package
Should You Buy a New or Pre-Owned Defibrillator?
New, factory-sealed devices provide total assurance and peace of mind, but it’s understandable that many buyers look to pre-owned models as a cost-saving measure.
It’s perfectly okay to purchase pre-owned defibrillators for your gym—just so long as you do your homework first. The reseller should have a thorough AED recertification process that includes inspection, testing, parts replacement, and full unit upgrade. The pads and battery should be new, and the unit should include a warranty for added assurance.
Most importantly, make sure to purchase your defibrillator from a reputable, manufacturer-authorized retailer.
Save Gymgoers’ Lives with an AED
Nearly 350,000 people experience sudden cardiac arrest every year in the U.S. Most of these cases are treatable, but CPR and shock must be administered within 10 minutes. (See also: Why Bodybuilders Experience Heart Attacks)
If someone has a cardiac emergency at your fitness facility, do you have the equipment necessary to take action? If the answer is no, invest in a quality AED right away. Most SCA victims have no prior symptoms, and a gym provides the type of high-exertion atmosphere that can trigger a cardiac episode.
In a best-case scenario, you’ll never have to remove the AED from its cabinet. However, if you ever do need to respond to a heart-related emergency, you’ll be forever grateful to have it.