As a Fitness Leader or participant, you have likely come across a liability waiver and/or a training contract at some point in your fitness training, both are essential to keeping participants safe and informed and for protecting Fitness Leaders.
As a key risk management tool, liability waivers help to protect business owners and service providers from liability associated with the inherent risks of their operations or services.
If used correctly, these forms are an effective way to inform participants of potential risks and are a formal document of the decision of participants to assume those risks. Signing a waiver does not preclude someone from being able to sue.
Waivers are more likely to be deemed enforceable if the following factors are present:
- Forewarning, Fair Warning: The physical risks and dangers related to the activity have been pointed out in advance of the person making the decision to participate.
- Clarity: The waiver language was clear and easy to read
- Specificity: The waiver was specific to the activity and outlined the physical risks involved, and the legal rights to be given up
- Fair Time Frame: The waiver and its effect was brought to the attention of the participant at the time they were requested to sign it and they were given ample time to read it.
- Comprehension: The person signing the waiver was capable of understanding its intent and effect. That is, a waiver will probably have no effect if the person signing it was intoxicated.
When a liability waiver is being administered, the following are effective practices:
- Provide participants with advance notice of the requirement to sign a waiver and a sample copy of the waiver form;
- Confirm the participant’s identity at the time of signing;
- Ensure the participant has not changed or crossed out any wording on the waiver;
- Confirm a participant understands the waiver.
- Do not allow any individuals who appear to be intoxicated or under the influence of narcotics to participate in the activity.
The following sample waivers can be used or adapted for use. It is advisable to have a legal representative review any contract to ensure it fits the desired needs.
- Minor Acknowledgement and Assumption of Risk form
- Adult Release and Waiver Liability form
- Activity Waiver
Along with liability forms, contracts are another great way to protect Personal Trainers and business owners, and to clearly inform participants.
Contracts between trainers and participants help establish how they will be working together, what services will be provided, and when. Contracts can also help protect the trainer if there is any infringement of the contract, such as someone refusing to provide payment.
What should contracts include?
- What the client can expect from their personal trainer: Summarize how a trainer will help a client/participant. Trainers should outline their specialties, skills, and the goal they are working towards.
- Packages and pricing: Outline clear packages and pricing structures for a client/participant to refer to. This is particularly important for freelance personal trainers to ensure the payment they are legally entitled to, is received.
- Frequency of sessions and business hours: Include the number of sessions per week or within a given time period as well as the length of the session. Set business hours for clients/participants to follow.
- Cancellation and refund policy: Clearly outline the window a client/participant is allowed to cancel or reschedule a session and what they can expect.
- Example: “24 hours’ notice must be given to cancel an appointment. No refunds will be provided for cancellations received less than 24 hours in advance.”
- Declaration of understanding: This is a closing statement that includes direct and clear language so there is no room for confusion.
- Example: “By signing this agreement below you are acknowledging and agreeing to have understood the entirety of this contract. You, as the client/participant, are agreeing to be satisfied with the contents included and are satisfied with all of the terms and conditions applied.”
The following sample contracts can be used or adapted for use. It is advisable to have a legal representative review any contract to ensure it fits the desired needs.
Contracts and waivers are valuable tools to ensure participants are safe and informed before starting their fitness training, and for protecting fitness professionals. Taking the time to correctly administer a contract or liability waiver benefits everyone involved.
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