Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


December 1, 2013

Fitness and safety concerns

BLUEFIELD — One of the first relationship discussions my husband and I had when we were dating was over my spontaneous runs around town. He knows I love to run. One of our first dates included a seven-mile run through Princeton. So he supports my hobby and tags along, even when he is tired or sleepy. Or if its in unfamiliar town, like on our honeymoon, he will find a park bench and drink his morning coffee, while I run through a park. Then there are days he tells me I am crazy to get up with the sun to go run. Our slight disagreement came about after I ran through an area that wasn’t safe. I knew he was right deep down. I was being stubborn. But I promised to never run down that street again. That isn’t the only thing my husband has taught me about safety. Because of him, I am more aware of my surroundings. I don’t use my phone in parking lots or dig around for keys in dark pockets and big, messy purses when I am alone. (I prefer to lose my keys at home.) If I go running, I keep my feet on the streets that are close to home or run with a friend. I realized I wasn’t being independent when I ignored my safety. I was being stupid.


We think things won’t happen here in our small town. Yet we read countless stories of cruelty. Newspapers are filled with articles about the latest crime trends like the “knock-out game,” where teenagers try to knock out innocent individuals with one punch. Our neighborhoods, with church steeples on every corner, and big front porches, create a warm, safe environment. But that’s just an image and it is broken day after day, in towns just like ours. Our hobbies, like running and walking, put us in the open. Our gender can work against us in certain situations. The very things we love can put us in danger. I would rather be safe than fit. That teachable moment back in the summer— yes, that was what it was — made a difference in how I view safety and fitness.


When I moved to Bluefield, the new roads beckoned for my feet to hit the pavement. So I did, up until the snow and rain started to fall from the sky. I checked into a gym, but I was surprised by the lack of staff and a keyless entry. I became concerned about the possibility of medical emergencies, general help, security issues and more. I asked questions, but none of the answers eased my concerns. Keyless entries are used in big cities. I looked up a few on the Internet. But I also discovered the use of keyless entries in gym with no staff is part of a long battle between fitness industry leaders and business owners. An article in Athletic Business, didn’t support the idea. The article stated keyless entry actually cost more in the long run due to members wanting more security. One facility finally gave members emergency response necklaces and installed panic buttons. A panic button in a community center? Wouldn’t it be simpler to pay to staff the front desk?


It is argument with valid points from both sides. But safety should come first, each and every time. I hesitated writing this column. I have been writing about weddings, decorating and newlywed life. But this time, I couldn’t help but write about my concerns as a member of a new community. As a female, I am constantly warned about the potential danger. I feel that I have a responsibility to pay attention and observe my surroundings, to be alert and stay safe. We all have this responsibility to ourselves and our families. And as for a business, I believe they should care about the safety of their customers. Even the ones that call with questions.

Jamie Parsell-Null is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at or on Twitter @BDTParsell.

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