Personal Trainer Legal Concerns
One of the larger legal concerns for a personal fitness trainer is potential liability.
This risk can be lowered by,
1) Obtaining a personal trainers certificate.( I.E. obtain the proper training to involve yourself in this business.) This should be considered the foundation for your protection as well as one of the first things that should be done if you are considering starting your own business as a personal fitness trainer or you plan on becoming a personal fitness trainer at a gym or other fitness facility.
2) Being properly trained in any equipment or techniques that you may advise a client to participate in. This is just basic common sense. As you would not be capable of offering the proper advise or demonstrating the safe and proper techniques for the use of any equipment or activity to a client, if you have not been trained in the correct, proper use and or techniques of any activities or equipment that you are not familiar in yourself. Not only does this pose the possibility of injury and or liability but it is irresponsible as well as unprofessional.
3) Never overestimate your training or abilities. This may pose not only the risk of liability to the personal trainer but obviously the risk to the client is greater. Not only is the possibility present for injury but bad advise may lead to bad habits or techniques that the client may pick up that will limit their progress which intern may lead to legal problems, as you would not be performing the job the client hired you to do.
4) Never offer medical advice (I.E. Never try to diagnose, treat or advise to cure any medical condition or disease.) The proceeding obviously does not apply to treatment or advise in regards to the treatment of any injury, which you should always recommend that the client immediately seek the professional treatment and or advise from a qualified medical practitioner (I.E. MD etc.) This may poise a concern as a personal trainer may encounter similar symptoms with similar injuries often enough that they may be tempted to diagnose or advise to treat a medical condition or disease but as stated above this must not be done with out the proper medical training and licenses as not only is there a liability issue but is illegal and will pose more of a problem to you then simply financial liability. In addition, if any injury occurs after contacting medical response if immediate treatment is necessary or referring the client to seek immediate medical attention. You should make a detailed report of the incident for you records in the event that some future legal action may be taken against you.
5) Always obtain sufficient liability insurance from a respectable company. This is also not only just basic common sense but also standard business practice. This should be considered a priority to not only protect yourself but to protect your client in the advent that something unforeseen occurs.
6) Obtaining and maintaining a current CPR and first aid certificate. This is also a basic requirement to not only protect your self from additional financial liability or legal liability but to protect your client in the advent that a heart related incident or an injury occurs.
7) Always obtain the proper business licenses and permits if you go in to your own business. This applies to not only the personal fitness trainer but any business practitioner. As you may not only be legally liable but you vary may well be found financially liable. As in most cases your liability insurance may not cover you if you are found to be operating a business without the proper license or without the proper permits for the business that you are involved in.
8) Avoiding interactions with clients that may present additional problems such as dating or developing personal relationships outside your fitness training with your clients. Due to the close physical interactions with your clients you may be at risk for harassment claims more in this field then some others and you should adjust your behavior accordingly as to help reduce the risk. In addition to possible harassment claims you may encounter or any personal interaction that may cause you to handle any aspects of your business as less then completely professional may put you at more of a risk and should be avoided.
9) If your business grows to the point that you hire additional employees you may consider incorporating to help protect yourself from personal liability.
The Personal Trainers Handbook
Author; Teri S. O’rien
www.sba.gov(U.S. Small Business Administration)
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