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Could health rule change shut down pools at some Las Vegas gyms?

Updated May 22, 2024 - 7:10 am

Some Las Vegas gym pool operations could be in jeopardy because local health officials are changing their rules regarding lifeguard requirements.

The Southern Nevada Health District is ending exceptions or variances that allowed some gyms in Las Vegas to be open without lifeguards monitoring their pools. The health district requires gym pools to be monitored by lifeguards, but it exempted some gyms after they raised concerns about the cost of hiring lifeguards.

Nineteen gym pool locations in the valley had a variance or exception in place, a health district spokesperson said.

It’s unclear whether gyms such as Las Vegas Athletic Club and 24-Hour Fitness will hire lifeguards or close their pools. The gyms didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.

But EoS Fitness will downsize its pool operations in Clark County because SNHD is ending the lifeguard exceptions, said Eric McCauley, the Nevada senior regional vice president of sales for EoS. The company currently has eight locations in the area with pools.

EoS is arranging to hire lifeguards for some of its pools, which could close temporarily as hiring takes place, he said. But the company also plans to permanently close other pools.

“EoS will permanently close some pools in the area, taking the opportunity to renovate and add new amenities, new equipment and more workout space to ensure members continue to enjoy a premium fitness experience,” McCauley said in an emailed statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We encourage members to contact their local EoS Fitness to get the latest updates specific to their location so they can continue their water fitness workouts uninterrupted.”

It’s unclear how many pools EoS is permanently closing or how quickly EoS will hire lifeguards.

Exceptions made

In 2020, Las Vegas Athletic Club successfully applied for an exemption to the lifeguard rule after the health district said lifeguards were needed for gym pools, according to records obtained by the Review-Journal. In the application , LVAC said it had operated pools at its gyms for over 42 years without lifeguards, and that the pools are similar to ones operated by homeowners associations because they aren’t open to the public and only members can access them.

LVAC also said it would cost too much to hire lifeguards, as the gyms operate on a narrow profit margin and have millions of dollars in loans to repay.

“Adding the additional payroll for the new lifeguards would put LVAC in default of its bank loans,” the application stated.

LVAC also said in 2020 that, if it were forced to hire lifeguards, it would have to shut down its pool operations.

A spokesperson for the health district said it is ending the exceptions to the lifeguard rule because some gym operators, including LVAC, weren’t following the proper safety measures, including regular walkthroughs by gym staff. The decision to end the exception was made by health district staff earlier this year.

Not all athletic clubs in Las Vegas took the lifeguard exception. Life Time operates two facilities in the Las Vegas Valley without the lifeguard exception and employs 160 lifeguards to keep the pools operational, a company spokesperson said.

Contact Sean Hemmersmeier at shemmersmeier@reviewjournal.com. Follow @seanhemmers34 on X.

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