I’ve written extensive content on hands-free treadmill use. Here’s a simple analysis of what went wrong when the woman fell off a treadmill and died.

According to surveillance footage inside the Indonesian gym, the woman is seen walking on the treadmill at a normal pace before she grabs a towel that’s draped over her right shoulder.

With both hands she brings the towel to her face and begins wiping.

She then begins moving backwards on the tread, even though no stumbling or off-balance movements are apparent.

A support beam blocks some of the view.

Two feet behind the treadmill is a tall window that starts very close to the floor – and is open at that.

The unnamed 22-year-old tumbles out and falls three stories to her death from head trauma.

In my more than 65 articles on this site about why able-bodied people (regardless of weight and age) should not hold onto a treadmill, some of these articles clearly point out that when it’s time to sip water, adjust the settings, wipe away sweat or even turn to say hello to someone, you absolutely SHOULD hold on.

But when it’s time to resume the workout, even if it’s a fast walk, you should swing your arms naturally – the way the body was meant to ambulate – even if you’re older with stiff joints or are significantly overweight.

And if that’s not possible, then the solution is to use a slower speed or lower the incline rather than hold on.

If you walked across the parking lot to the gym and walked to the treadmill without a walker, cane or holding onto someone’s arm, there’s no mechanical need to hold onto a treadmill – which can actually lead to repetitive stress injuries, create a false sense of accomplishment and deactivate your body’s balance system.

Now again, I have pointed out that if you need to do something while on a treadmill, such as adjust something on your person or blow your nose, then certainly, hold on or, better yet, step off the tread and place your feet on either side of it for stability.

The woman did not step on either side; she continued walking on the tread while wiping her face.

It’s not possible to determine from the video just how she lost her footing.

It’s also not possible to see why she continued traveling backwards with enough momentum to go through the window, even though her walking pace was moderate: not speedy, not snail-like.

How to Prevent Falling off a Treadmill

I cover this topic wall-to-wall in my treadmill content. But in this particular tragic case, the gym was grossly negligent.

The treadmills should’ve been facing towards the windows.

In every gym I’ve ever been to, if a row of treadmills ran along a row of windows, they were facing the windows.

This way, treadmill users have an outside view.

But the owner of the subject gym stated that the treadmills faced away from the windows so that other gym-goers could have a view.

The biggest question, though, is why was that window open?

The gym owner wasn’t sure, but there’s speculation that the personal trainer who was on break during the time of the accident was responsible for making sure the windows were closed.

Another report said that cleaning crew was responsible.

Reports also state that a sticker instructing to keep windows closed had been “damaged.”

People are also wondering why anyone would want to use a treadmill that faces back to an open window just two feet away.

With all that said, I’ll say it again: If you need to do anything to your person (adjust your fanny pack, get something out of your eye, wipe off sweat, scratch your nose) or alter your position (turn to greet someone or look at something) or any other task that alters your balance (change the machine’s settings), you absolutely should hold onto the treadmill.

But when you’re finished with the task, including taking your heart rate, then release your hands to resume normal, natural posture and healthy spinal alignment.

Make sure your shoelaces aren’t loose. For all we know, the victim stumbled on an untied shoelace.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 
Source: athleticbusiness.com