Archive for the ‘Personal Trainer’ Category

Celebrity Trainer Client Suffers Injury and Files Lawsuit

When the trainer or facility is liable

Sore muscles and the occasional pulled ligament at the gym aren’t uncommon and are to be expected. Warming up before exercising and using the equipment correctly are the best ways to prevent injuries. One responsibility of the gym’s staff members and trainers is to assist clients in the proper use of the equipment.

Improper use of equipment and improper supervision can lead to serious trouble for both staff and clients.

A costly fall

A New York woman filed suit against her trainer after she was injured during a training session. According to the suit, Nicole Dickstein, 37, was seriously injured after falling off a balance ball. Dickstein alleges that the ball moved suddenly while she was standing on the side of the ball on one leg holding weights and with no support.

Dickstein’s $250 private training session with celebrity trainer Rich Barretta resulted in a torn hamstring. The injury required extensive surgery that included the insertion of hardware. The suit did not specify the damages Dickstein in seeking. The surgery alone had to run in the many thousands of dollars.

Injuries such as these not only rack up huge medical bills, but can incur the injured person lost wages, emotional trauma, hardship at home, and even derail life events such as weddings and vacations. If the trainer or the gym owner/operator is found liable for the injury, one or both can suffer huge financial losses, not only in compensation to the injured, but in attorney fees, court costs and more.

Protection for health clubs and trainers

We highly recommend that all personal trainers and fitness club owner/operators Treadmills as Health Club Risksread “Risks that Could Put Your Fitness Center Out of Business” and “Injuries at Gyms and Homes.”  

Sadler offers Fitness Instructor Insurance specifically designed to meet the unique needs of personal trainers of all types, including aerobics, yoga, and pilates.. We also offer several Health Club Insurance programs, one of which will meet your facility’s needs. You can get a fast quote by clicking the links above or calling 800-62-07370.

Source: Julia Marsh. “Mom sues celebrity trainer after suffering torn hamstring.” 05 Aug. 2016.

Waiver Saves Fitness Center in PA

Divided court highlights potential waiver pitfalls

Melinda Hinkal found out the hard way that it’s important to read before signing that liability waiver. She, like everyone else who applied to join the gym, was required to sign a waiver before she could begin working out in the facility. After joining, Hinkal claimed that too much weight on the equipment she was using caused a neck injury. It was her contention that the trainer advised her to continue working out even after she complained of pain.

The PA State Superior Court decision ruled she could not sue the gym because the signed waiver stipulates that gym members “assume all risks of personal injury.” However, not all the judges agreed with the ruling. A dissenting judge argued that the waiver agreement “contravenes public policy,” which is intended to protect consumers. The dissenting judge also noted that the waiver didn’t clearly stipulate that personal training sessions were covered.

Would your waiver hold up in court?

This case shows that the outcome of any given case clearly depends on the judge’s interpretation. This case also provides a clear example of some of the points I bring up in “Are Waivers/Releases Worth the Paper on Which They’re Written?” Chief among those points is that courts are more likely to rule in favor of a waiver that was custom written for specific activities and that aims to meet the requirements of your state’s laws.

So, what is a well-written waiver/release? Quite simply, nearly every phrase in every sentence must be written to avoid the pitfalls that resulted in actual rulings against waivers. The above-mentioned article lists 10 common waver risks to avoid.

Waivers and risk management

Given the dissenting opinion and the pitfalls mentioned above, it’s logical to assume that a different panel of judges might have ruled in Hinkal’s favor. So, don’t assume you’ll beat the odds if your waiver comes under scrutiny.

We have many other risk management articles pertinent to health clubs and fitness trainers. And we offer best-in-industry fitness instructor insurance and fitness center insurance at up to 38% savings.

Source: Matt Miller. “Woman signed away her right to sue over injury at Gold’s Gym, divided Pa. court rules,” 29 Jan. 2016.

Fitness Training on Public Property

L.A. cracking down on trainers without permits

The city of Los Angeles is proposing an ordinance that would require personal trainers using public parks and beaches to obtain permits. The law would also pertain to others who offer goods and services such as food vendors. Santa Monica passed a law that not only requires fitness trainers to have a permit, but carry insurance and pay a fee to use public space. L.A. is considering taking similar steps in addition to the permit.

Complaints from citizens about crowded parks and noise from large boot-camp style classes are one reason the cities are acting. Another is the potential for injury to participants, and the possibility of the city being liable. There’s also the fact that the trainers are making lots of money running their businesses on public property for free. And when they advertise, many of them include the park name, as if it’s a legitimate site for them to do business, said Kevin Regan, of L.A.’s Department of Recreation and Parks.

The city wants fitness instructors to follow the proper channels of operating legitimate businesses, which includes obtaining a city permit and insurance. City officials and many trainers think the new law will weed out those trainers who aren’t certified trainers or trainers who don’t even have a business license.

We invite you to read our other helpful articles on risk management for personal trainers.

Source: Leslie Berestein Rojas, “City to fitness instructors who use LA parks: Get a permit.” 24 June 2015

D.C. Set to Regulate Personal Trainers

So goes Washington, so goes the nation?

For years Washington, D.C. has had bragging rights as the nation’s fittest city, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Is it possible that pending regulations could cause its ranking to drop?

The Board of Physical Therapy, a small group of D.C. regulators, is set to publish new standards for personal trainers in the District that could have widespread ramifications in the industry. The regulations also include development of a registry of all personal trainers in the District.

Will regulation provide clarity and accountability?

Those advocating for regulation say the intent of the law is to provide protection for the consumer. “Industry estimates show 40 percent of all trainers have no gym affiliation, meaning they are accountable to no one even though they are often in positions of authority with clients,” said Graham Melstrand, board president of the Coalition for Registration of Exercise Professionals.

But who decides on the definition of “personal fitness trainer?” There are kinesiologists, corrective specialists, exercise instructors and hundreds of trainers with sub-specialties.

“Setting one pathway, one test, one methodology to train individuals — that can be problematic.”, said Phillip Godfrey, a Washington medical exercise specialist. Godfrey is among many who think a board that regulates the industry should be comprised of personal trainers and academic experts, not physical therapists.

The cost of regulation

D.C.’s move toward regulation is rooted in Obamacare, which provides incentives to employers who offer wellness programs and calls for preventive health-care initiatives. That mean big bucks for credentialed programs and trainers.

Currently, personal trainers are unregulated in all 50 states, though registration and/or licensing is being debated in Massachusetts, Florida and other states. Licensing means that only those who meet the government’s criteria and acquire a license are permitted to practice the profession.

CrossFit, arguably the largest chain of fitness centers in the country with over 13,000 affiliate facilities, will be hard hit. CrossFit has it’s highest concentration of facilities in the District.

When a board declares what is good or bad, who is right or wrong, it impacts the law of legal liability. Insurance rates could go through the roof, said Andrew Killion, a D.C. CrossFit trainer said.

Opponents argue that many gyms will have to close while the owners and trainers acquire certification. They also claim that state registries or licenses could also affect preventive health programs. For example, an employer may receive more credit by offering a certified aerobic program than for a fitness routine run by a random CrossFit instructor. Since every program works differently for everyone, this begs the question of whether the government should decide what choices the consumer is offered.

We’ll be watching for developments after regulation in D.C.goes into effect, and to see when, not if, other states follow Washington’s lead.

Source: Aaron C. Davis, “In the nation’s capital, a new business to regulate: D.C.’s personal trainers.” 23 Aug. 2015.

Treadmills Account for Most Equipment-related Health Club Injuries

And most are preventable

The treadmill is the riskiest of all workout machines because it has a motor that propels it, unlike ellipticals and stationary bicycles. However, most injuries are minor and deaths, as in the David Goldberg case, are rare.

There were an average of three treadmill-related deaths per year reported between 2003 and 2013, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. There were 24,400 treadmill-related injuries requiring emergency room visits reported in 2014.  There were 62,700 injuries related to exercise equipment, which includes weights, trampolines, swimming pools, and golf clubs. Treadmills account for the largest number of injuries in that category.

Treadmill injuriesEmergency room doctors report that the majority of injuries from sports equipment are associated with overuse, such as an injured tendon from a long run on a treadmill.

Treadmill accidents tend to occur more frequently among older and inexperienced users. Getting instructions on use of the machine is key in avoiding treadmill accidents and consulting with a physician before embarking on treadmill activity is highly recommended for seniors.

Unknown heart problems can surface with exercise, which can cause people to die suddenly while exercising. These types of hidden heart problems can be caused by a genetic abnormality or chronic coronary disease that cannot withstand strenuous exercise. Heart problems account for about 80 percent of sudden deaths in which people collapse and are unable to be resuscitated.

For more information see “Injuries at Gyms and Home.”

Source: Sabrina Tavernise, “Treadmill May Be Riskiest Machine,”, 05 May, 2015.

Injury Claims Unique to Health Clubs

What they are and how to reduce risk of occurrences

You work too hard at running your health club to risk it all. But it could easily happen if a client were to sue over something you simply overlooked. Health club General Liability claims typically arise out of the condition of the premises and equipment. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the facility should be performed, and clients always properly instructed on use of the equipment. The three most common claims unique to health clubs and fitness centers are:

  • Falls while stepping on or off of a moving treadmill. which is usually a user error . However, a liability claim can be filed if the injured person did not receive proper instruction on use of the treadmill.
  • Health club risk managementSlips/falls in wet areas. These claims usually occur in locker rooms and sauna, Jacuzzi and pool areas. Such falls are best prevented with non-slip mats and warning signage.
  • Slips/falls in exercise classes. Participants in group exercise classes slip or fall off step platforms and floors that become wet with perspiration and/or condensation from water bottles.

General Liability Risk Management

Steps can be taken to reduce the risk of injuries and claims being made against your facility.

Equipment Maintenance

  • Document and retain maintenance and repairs
  • Equipment safety signage should never be removed
  • Cardio and strength equipment should be checked daily
  • Power cords should be taped down to prevent trips and falls

Wet Areas

  • Non-slip floor mats and safety grab bars should be securely installed at showers/saunas/Jacuzzi exits
  • Signs warning “CAUTION: WET AREA” should be permanently displayed.
  • Members should be encouraged to wear non-slip footwear in wet areas

Group Exercise Area

The condition of group exercise equipment and floors should be checked daily, particularly worn step treads and worn, wet or damaged sections of the floor

Professional Liability Risk Management

Steps can be taken to reduce the risk injury claims being made against your facility resulting from something a staff member or independent contractor does or says (or fails to do or say).

Waiver/Release Forms

  • Have all clients, members and guests sign a waiver or release before using any part the facility. Members and clients should sign a new waiver/release upon renewal each year.
  • Waivers should state that “instruction on all equipment and facilities has been provided and/or offered” to the individual.


  • Fitness staff should physically demonstrate all equipment for new members and guests.
  • Renewing members should be offered refresher instruction and instructed on use of any newly purchased equipment.


  • Staff should all be trained in the proper use of all equipment upon hire and receive training on newly purchased equipment.
  • Fitness staff should be made aware of the policy they are expected provide proper equipment instruction to members and guests.
  • Staff should not exceed their qualifications for fitness and/or health training . Only staff with proper nutritional or medical certifications should offer recommendations in these areas.
  • Independent contractors should offer proof of individual professional liability coverage before working in the facility.

Emergency Procedures

  • All employees should receive a copy and acknowledge by signature receipt of the facility’s emergency procedures plan. This plans should include what steps to take in the event of injury, illness, fire, power outage, severe weather, etc.
  • The emergency plan should be reviewed with staff regularly during the year.
  • Staff who work on the fitness floor should be CPR and first aid certified. At least one CPR and first aid trained staff member should be on the floor at all times.
  • If the facility has an automatic external defibrillator (AED), at least one staff member with AED training should be on site at all times.

If you have questions regarding risk factors, please call us at (800) 622-7370, and you can visit our Health Club Insurance page to find a plan that suits your specific needs. We specialize in these areas:

Circuit Training

Day Spas

Exercise Studios

Fitness Clubs

Health Clubs

Pilates Studios

Yoga Studios


Injuries at Gyms and Homes

Thousands suffer in pursuit of fitness

Fitness Instructor Insurance and Health Club Insurance is in high demand due to frequent gym injuries.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the following injury statistics occurred in 2009:

  • 1500 emergency room visits resulting from equipment related
    mishaps in gyms
  • 50,000 emergency room visits from home exercise equipment incidents including treadmill falls, exercise ball falls, elastic stretch band hits to face, and dropping free weights on feet.
  • Treadmills are the number one cause of equipment related injuries with 575 occurrences of falling off and tripping
  • Weight machines and free weights caused 224 injuries.
  • Common gym equipment related injuries include broken ankles,fractured arms, fractured legs, and fingertip amputations.

Fitness instructors cite the following reason for gym/exercise related injuries:

  • Inattention due to Ipods, cell phones, and reading
  • Using equipment for the first time without proper instruction
  • Working out too hard, too soon after a period of inactivity.


Fitness trainer settles wrongful termination lawsuit

Why fitness centers need Employment Practices Liability insurance

A fitness trainer settled his claim that he was wrongfully terminated by his employer, Best Fitness for $32,500. Salvatore Rachuna alleged he was fired because of complaints he made about a manager who repeatedly made inappropriate and lewd remarks in the presence of Best Fitness customers.

Wrongful TerminationRachuna was hired by Best Fitness in 2008 and worked in various positions in their Tonawanda, N.Y., and Erie, Penn., locations. In 2012 he began working under a new manager. His lawsuit claims that his supervisor repeatedly made “sexually advancing” comments regarding Best Fitness members and employees, both male and female. Rachuna’s complaint states the manager regularly discussed male genitalia size and the sexual activity of others and told sexual jokes about underage females.

Management’s response

Rachuna complained to the corporate vice president of personal training, who just happened to be the manager’s wife. He reported that he was uncomfortable and the behavior disruptive to the workplace. The only action she took was to tell Rachuna to “push back” anytime the manager, her husband, conducted himself inappropriately. The manager’s inappropriate behavior continued, so Rachuna made a formal complaint to the Best Fitness chief executive and human resources director in August, 2012. According to Rachnuna, his termination on Sept. 9, 2012 was a retaliatory action against his repeated complaints.

This case was one of two discrimination cases against Best Fitness arising from alleged actions of the Best Fitness manager. A separate complaint filed by a former group fitness director is pending. None of the complaints named the manager as a defendant.

What management can do

Defending against such claims can be costly. Employment practices lawsuits of this nature highlight the need for fitness centers to purchase Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI), which can be purchased on a stand-alone basis or as part of a Directors & Officers Liability policy. EPLI policies generally cover the big three: discrimination, sexual harassment, and wrongful termination/discipline, plus a host of other employment related offenses.

If you are interested in a quote for this coverage, contact Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance or any other aspect of Fitness Traininer insurance. We will provide a simple form to complete that will allow us to provide you with a quick quote.


Source: Lisa Thompson, “Erie fitness center settles lawsuit,” Erie Times-News. 17 Aug, 2014.



Trampoline + Fitness Class = “Airobics”

Two popular physical activities merge

Trampoline parks are the fastest growing segment of the amusement business and personal fitness trainers are getting in on the action. And their clients are flying to trampoline parks fitness classes, happy to switch their routines up and add novelty moves to their workout regimens.

Why work out on a trampoline?

Trampoline aerobicsIn addition to experiencing a new workout routine and venue, there are other perks for participants. When the body engages in explosive moves or when jogging in place, 80 percent of the shock is absorbed by the trampoline. This makes for much lower impact that’s easier on the joints and ideal for anyone recovering from an injury.

Another benefit to exercising on a trampoline is the full-body workout it offers. An unstable surface such as a trampoline requires many muscles in various parts of your body to engage for balance control, which makes for an extra challenging workout.

“Working out on a trampoline can improve your coordination and agility and, since it puts your musculoskeletal system under slight stress, promotes stronger bones and can ward off osteoporosis,” according to Natalie Rado, a New York City personal trainer.

Adjusting to a new environment

Many of the exercises practiced in a regular gym environment, such as lunges, jumping jacks and kicks, and push-ups are easily done on the trampoline. Sometimes the entire trampoline is used to run laps and some activities are done with a small area. Equipment such as medicine balls, stretch bands, and small weights can also be easily incorporated into workouts, and the intensity scaled up or down to meet individual fitness levels.

There are valid concerns about trampoline safety in general. Only certified fitness trainers should be leading exercise class and be certified in CPR and first aid. Trainers should closely monitor participants at all times. Beefing up the workout shouldn’t require jumping at great heights or dangerous acrobatics, only intensifying the level of the regular workout.

Trainers and trampoline park operators, please visit our Trampoline Park Insurance page that includes tips on risk management. Or call us at 800 (622-7370).


Caitlin Carlson, “The New Workout You Have to Try,”, 16 July, 2013.

Briana Wipf,  “Trampolines add intensity to aerobic workouts,”,  24 June, 2014.



Risks that Could Put Your Fitness Center Out of Business (Infographic)

Taking care of the not-so-obvious

Running a fitness center is no small feat due to the constant management of contract employees, members, front desk agents, maintenance staff and the like. Collecting member dues and keeping your numbers up is probably one of your greatest concerns, but you also have major risks that you need to manage in order to survive.

Fitness Center

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The 5 Hidden Risks

Disaster-related loss
Studies have shown that nearly 60% of businesses are underinsured, leaving them vulnerable to significant losses in the face of natural disasters. Protect your fitness club by investing in adequate health club insurance coverage and having a set recovery plan in place to minimize your risk for total loss.

Emergency losses
Accidents happen every day – explosions, violent acts, outbreaks of disease such as Legionella. These incidents can significantly impact both your finances and your reputation.  Speak with your insurance agent and make sure that your business is adequately covered for catastrophic liability and property losses.

Cyber-security breach
You store a lot of member data on your computer system: birthdays, home addresses, and even credit card numbers are kept on file. Did you know that nearly half of all businesses have experienced a data breach? However, only one in 10 of those businesses are covered for cyber liability.  A Cyber Risk policy should protect your fitness center from client data breaches in the event that negligence on the part of your company is determined to be the cause of breach.

Personal trainer liability
If your fitness facility employs personal trainers, you may be liable for their negligent behavior, even if they’re only contract employees. Sexual harassment, physical injury, even poor dietary advice can result in a lawsuit against your company. It is safest to require your contract trainers to carry their own General Liability/Professional Liability policies.  However, some fitness facilities choose to add coverage for contract trainers under their fitness facility policy.

Treadmill Injuries
You see them all the time. One of your clients will be running on a treadmill, nose in a book, texting, or bobbing along to their iPod. Such multitasking often leads to injuries for which you are likely to be liable. The average cost of any treadmill-related incident is $250,000.

Protecting your fitness facility from injury claims

Did you know that Fitness Center Insurance is critical for all health clubs and gyms? It only takes one injury-related lawsuit to financially ruin you and or your business. Having the right insurance protection offers you peace of mind.

Getting the right insurance coverage does not have to be complicated if you work with an agency like SADLER. The insurance experts at SADLER understand your needs and the unique risks associated with your fitness facility. If you would like to learn more about liability prevention or are ready to get a customized insurance quote, simply apply online now or call 800-622-7370.

There are absolutely no obligation or commitments, and your quote will be sent in just a few hours in most cases. With no application fees and the most competitive rates in the industry, you’ve got nothing to lose!


Source – Hidden Risks Faced by Fitness Centers