- To understand the liability that fitness professionals’ have for sexual abuse, personal injury and advertising injury.
- To learn how they can reduce their risk for these potential liability claims.
Fitness Professionals Are at Risk for Sexual Abuse and Molestation Claims
Unfortunately, we do see instances of sexual abuse in the media from the fitness industry that are shocking, involving assault or rape. There are cases of clients claiming assault by a fitness professional on or off premises. These are crimes and go beyond an insurance liability claim. What most fitness professionals need to be aware of regarding their liability for sexual abuse and/or molestation claims is that actions and words can be miss-interpreted, even if no offense or harm was ever intended.
It is absolutely critical to be aware of what amount of touch and/or humor is appropriate with clients. Clients differ greatly in this regard. Each client should be worked with as an individual to gradually build the relationship and understand the client’s unique personality. This is another instance of how important it is to listen to clients and learn about them as part of the personal training relationship.
When working with minors, it is necessary to be extremely conservative in regards to touch and try to always work with minors either in a group or in front of others if their parents or guardians are not actually present. Fitness professionals should strive not to be alone with minor clients.
Fitness Professionals Are at Risk for Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury has to do with a person’s right to privacy. Inappropriate comments or the use of their image can be considered an invasion of a person’s privacy. Personal injury claims can come from inappropriate comments or misinterpreted comments.
A fitness professional should keep their comments on their clients’ fitness level, physical condition or personal lives as professional as possible. This applies to both in-person dialog as well as comments in social media or blog posts. It is a good rule of business for nothing to be posted online about the fitness professional or their clients’ personal lives. Unfortunately, inappropriate or negative online posts can greatly damage the fitness professional’s reputation and business even if a claim does not result.
Personal injury claims can also come from the unapproved use of a client’s photo on a website or in social media. Fitness professionals should have their clients’ sign off on the use of their images in social media. This can be a simple line in the language of a liability waiver that the client initials, but it is still important to also ask before posting pictures.
Fitness Professionals Are at Risk for Advertising Injury Claims
It is common practice for fitness professionals to have both websites and/or social media pages for their clients and potential clients to follow in order to market and advertise their businesses. These are great tools to grow a fitness professional’s business and communicate with clients; yet, there is also some risk for advertising liability claims. These claims primarily come from the unapproved use of trademarked information. It is best to be professional about what you post, just like what you do and don’t say with your clients. Make sure the links that you repost are good choices. Do not use trademarked logos, images or other trademarked information if possible.
Fitness Professionals Should Be Cautious
A fitness professional should communicate well with their clients to build healthy relationships; be proactive in adjusting fitness plans when needed; thorough in keeping accurate and complete documentation; and cautious in the use of touch, humor and on-line posting. Each of these steps can help a fitness professional protect themselves as well as grow their business and advance their career.
Discounts for PTontheNet Members
PTontheNet is proud to partner with Sports and Fitness Insurance Company to offer the best in Fitness Professional insurance. Through PTontheNet’s exclusive partnership, PTontheNet members can save $15 annually on their insurance premiums.
Not a PTontheNet member? You can still save $5 on your annual premium through the PTontheNet friends and family discount.