There are so many things to think about when it comes to protecting your livelihood as a group exercise (group X) instructor. Of course, anyone working with the public must be careful when it comes to personal interactions. But we’ve narrowed it down to the four primary types of liability exposure common to all fitness clubs and studios.
First, premises liability. This relates to the facility itself and is primarily the responsibility of the club or studio owner. Real life occurrences of premises liability that can lead to claims include a slip and fall on the sidewalk or over electrical cords. While these are the most common insurance claims in any brick and mortar business, a premises liability claim that can frequently involve the fitness professional is a wet floor in a group x room or even a shower area. If a participant slips and falls and claims the instructor knew the floor was wet or didn’t take proper precautions to create a safe environment, it could lead to a law suit.
Second, liability associated with damaged, broken or malfunctioning equipment. These types of insurance claims can either be the responsibility of the facility or the equipment manufacturer. Health clubs and studios should maintain all of their equipment per the manufacturer’s instructions with regular inspection and service. This includes everything from the steps, bands, balls and barbells used in group exercise classes to the strength training and cardio equipment. If a machine’s design is found to be at fault for an injury then the liability will shift to the manufacturer. A fitness professional can be a part of these claims if it is alleged that the instructor knew the treads on steps were worn down, for example, or if the trainer knew the piece of equipment was not working properly.
Third, professional liability. This is where the vast majority of exposure exists for fitness professionals. All Group X instructors, Yoga & Pilates instructors and Personal Trainers are held accountable for the things that they say and do OR fail to say or do. This includes performing the actual teaching and instructing in a class or session, as well as the advice that they provide such as nutritional counseling. The most common form of professional liability claims occur when a member or client is injured and alleges that the trainer or instructor failed to tell them how to use a piece of equipment properly.
Finally, fitness professionals have exposure for sexual abuse and molestation claims. Since trainers and instructors frequently work closely with their clients, they are open to claims of improper touching, overly familiar language or inappropriate comments. If working with minor aged clients then this exposure increases dramatically.
In the next blog we’ll discuss the precautions that need to be in place in order for fitness pros to protect themselves. Stay tuned!