Rectech Newsletter

D3: Development of Uniform Standards for Accessible Fitness Equipment


People with disabilities have a history of increased health risks as a result of a sedentary lifestyle. This sedentary lifestyle is enforced by the limited access that is provided to mainstream fitness equipment in public fitness facilities. Physical activities increase the health and well-being of all individuals, including those with any type of disability.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) secures equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities. Title III of the ADA applies to public accommodations in particular, which are private entities that are open to the public, including fitness centers. Thus, the intent of the ADA is that people of all abilities be able to access all public accommodations, including fitness centers, and engage in use of all membership benefits equally, including access to the fitness equipment.

In July 2010 President Obama announced that Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act would be amended to cover the use of exercise equipment in health clubs, hotel fitness centers, public recreation centers, and schools. In March 2012 the Department of Justice (DOJ) mandated an accessible travel path and footprint to and around fitness equipment in public facilities. With growing social and political pressure to provide equal opportunities for people with disabilities in health/fitness facilities, standards that identify critical elements of universal design for fitness equipment are becoming increasingly important.

The major aim of this project is to finalize a set of standards for strength and cardiovascular fitness equipment that will be supported by the leading standards authority in the U.S. through ASTM. The project team will continue to develop and promote the draft ASTM Standard Specification and Test Method for Evaluating the Universal Design of Fitness Equipment (UDFE) through the ASTM F08.30 Fitness Products Committee. The project team is working closely with the Inclusive Fitness Initiative (UK) to finalize the general sections and incorporate equipment-specific UDFE criteria into published ASTM Fitness Product Standards Documents. Manufacturer evaluations of the draft ASTM UDFE Standards will be conducted as well as independent testing of strength and cardiovascular fitness equipment in order to evaluate the validity and reliability of the draft ASTM UDFE Standards. Consumer usability testing of fitness equipment meeting ASTM UDFE Standards will be conducted in order to evaluate how well the needs of people with disabilities are being met by the standards. Results of all testing will be used to revise the draft ASTM UDFE Standards as necessary.

The RESNA Standards Committee on Inclusive Fitness was founded in Jun 2012 to develop a facility and equipment certification process upon compliance with applicable accessibility guidelines and standards.

1. Scope

1.1 This specification establishes additional requirements not set forth in the referenced ASTM standards for the design of commercial fitness equipment to increase access and user independence by people with functional limitations or impairments.

1.2 The intent of this specification is to assure that the fitness product being designed for inclusive use by individuals with and without functional limitations or impairments remains functional and safe when the equipment is operated according to the manufacturer’s operational instructions.

1.3 It is the intent of this specification to specify products for indoor use in a commercial environment by individuals age 13 and above.

1.4 Products designed to meet this specification must not be automatically classified as fit for medical or rehabilitation fitness purposes. Products intended for medical use should comply with any applicable international or national standards.

1.5 Where users are exercising from a wheelchair, it is the intent of this specification to specify products for use by individuals using manual or powered wheelchairs (including scooters).

1.6 This standard does not purport to address the needs of every possible user and recognizes that access will not be possible for all individuals or all types of assistive technologies.

1.7 Designers shall use this specification in conjunction with other ASTM fitness equipment standards and its accompanying test method.

1.8 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the standard. The values given in parentheses are for information only.

1.9 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.