NEW YORK — Safety regulators warned people with kids and pets Saturday to immediately stop using a treadmill made by Peloton after one child died and others were injured.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said children and at least one pet were pulled, pinned and entrapped under the rear roller of the Tread+ treadmill, leading to fractures, scrapes and the death of one child.
The safety commission said in a news release and in emails that it knows of 39 "incidents" with the treadmill, involving "multiple" or "dozens" of children, but it did not specify a number of children. It said the majority of the incidents resulted in injuries, including the one death.
The commission posted a video on its YouTube page of a child being pulled under the treadmill. Warning: Video content may be disturbing to viewers.
Of the 39 incidents, 23 involved children, according to New York-based Peloton Interactive Inc.; 15 included objects like medicine balls, and one included a pet, it said.
Peloton said in a news release that the warning from the safety commission was "inaccurate and misleading." It said there's no reason to stop using the treadmill as long as children and pets are kept away from it at all times, it is turned off when not in use, and a safety key is removed.
But the safety commission said that in at least one episode, a child was pulled under the treadmill while a parent was running on it, suggesting it can be dangerous to children even while a parent is present.
If adults want to keep using the treadmill, the commission said, they should use it only in a locked room so children and pets can't come near it. When not in use, the treadmill should be unplugged and the safety key taken out and hidden away. The commission also said to keep exercise balls and other objects away from it, because those have been pulled under the treadmill, too.
Peloton is best known for its stationary bikes, but it introduced the treadmill about three years ago and now calls it the Tread+. It costs more than $4,000.
Sales of Peloton equipment have soared during the pandemic as virus-weary people avoid gyms and workout at home instead. The company brought in $1 billion in revenue in the last three months of 2020, more than double its revenue from the same period a year before.
The commission did not say how many of the Peloton treadmills have been sold.
How to avoid 5 common mistakes when working out at home
“What we observed over the quarantine period is that a lot of people resort to randomized programs — stuff they see on social media or stuff their friends are doing — that they simply aren’t ready for,” said Clifton Hempstead, personal trainer and co-founder of Anthos Training Clubs.
Hempstead said a lot of these programs are high-intensity and designed to make you feel exhausted. Instead, he said you should seek out a program that is working toward a goal, with exercises you’re capable of doing.
“A lot of people shouldn’t be jumping around and moving side-to-side,” Hempstead said. “They’re doing all these exercises that they haven’t developed the prerequisites for.”
Training beyond your limits can result in injury, he said: “You might develop tendinitis in the knees; you might hurt an ankle,” he said. “Those (high-intensity) workouts are meant to beat you up, and that’s fine every once in a while, but to do that constantly ... can be a recipe to hurt yourself.”
Alysha Bazan, trainer and fitness director at CrossTown Fitness, said weightlifting is one of the most common exercises she sees performed incorrectly — especially deadlifts, in which people will sometimes round their back while lifting.
“Take your time and don’t rush through the movement. Make sure that you’re stabilizing your core,” she said. “Make sure you’re doing the form properly without the weights first before loading it up.”
Home exercisers may not know how to plan a workout either, Bazan said: “Like, not knowing the proper exercises to pair together, especially if they’re loading up the weight, or how many reps and how many sets that they’re doing.”
Bazan said you can lift safely at home, and it might not require as much equipment as you think. “It seems like a lot of people have like one or two pieces of equipment at home — which is great and you can do a lot of things with the one piece of equipment,” Bazan said. “Especially if people have one dumbbell or one kettlebell, you can do a lot of single-sided exercises.”
Watch your form
A lot of home workout programs that don’t require equipment include exercises such as planks, squats, push-ups and sit-ups. But having bad form can lead to injury, said Alex Nsiah-Kumi, trainer and owner of Paramount Personal Training.
When doing squats or lunges, your knees and toes should be going the same direction. “So that, long term, your knees don’t start bothering you,” he said. “Rep after rep, doing it wrong adds up.”
Planking can be hard on your lower back if you’re not doing it right, Nsiah-Kumi said. “Make sure it’s not going into your lower back at all. It should be more of a core thing. There should be no lower back tightness or pain.”
If you can’t perform an exercise, find a variation that scales it back to a point where you can have less pain, he said.
Yoga is best done in the presence of an instructor, said part-time Chicago yoga instructor Whitney Katz. But that’s not always possible, even in in-person classes, she said: “Not being watched properly by a teacher has hurt me more than it’s helped me.”
Katz recommends making live, virtual classes part of your at-home yoga practice, especially if you’re a beginner. Even over the internet, having an instructor watching can help you tune the poses to your body.
“There’s not an ABC of bodies,” she said. “We all have different anatomy, and what might feel great for one body might feel horrible for another.”
But if you’d rather learn yoga through YouTube videos, Katz said it’s important to take it slow. “’Beginner’ doesn’t always mean gentle,” she said. “You can get into some pretty complicated things in a beginning class.”
Katz said many video classes don’t offer modifications of poses that might make them work for different bodies.
“If something doesn’t feel right, and you’re taking a prerecorded class, back off,” she said. “Don’t go as far.”
Listen to your body
“You certainly are at risk for injury any time you exercise,” said personal trainer Shane Schroeder. “You want to check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe to start an exercise program.”
Schroeder also recommends getting a trainer who can help you virtually. His service, Train With Shane, delivers his programs to clients through an app and he follows up with weekly coaching calls. People who use a free online program for fitness should do so with caution, he said.
“Listen to your body,” Schroeder said. If the pain goes beyond normal muscle burn or fatigue into joint pain, you might be injuring yourself. “Let your body be your guide.”