Posts Tagged ‘personal trainer insurance’

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.

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.

Fitness Trainers: How To Avoid Liability Landmines (Infographic)

Legalities, liabilities and other not-so-fun stuff

Anyone willing to start up a business and risk personal and financial loss to live their dream has to have imagination.The fitness industry has its share of entrepreneurs, as seen in the boon of independent fitness instructors and personal trainers.

The practical aspects of creating and maintaining a business are just as important as creativity, passion and energy. Liability will always be an issue for fitness trainers because they offer a personal service. Protecting yourself, your business and your assets is a significant element of a successful personal training business. The first layer of protection is determining if you could defend yourself if a client under your supervision were to become injured. The key questions listed below the infographic will help you make this determination.

Protecting Clients

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  • Are you adequately trained and certified in the activities you supervise?
  • How did you screen the client for the activity in which he/she was involved?
  • Did the client sign an informed consent and release form?
  • Was the client given instructions appropriate for his/her age and health conditions?

Paperwork can be pesky, but it’s crucial

There are essential documents your clients must sign before receiving any services. Keeping these documents on file is important and might be be the key to any potential claim against you. Have an attorney review a draft of these documents to make sure you’re protected and looking out for the clients’ best interests. Below are four documents that should be part of  an independent personal trainer’s arsenal and signed by every client prior to any training :

  1. Waiver/release and assumption of risk.  At best, the waiver / release part of this form will allow the fitness trainer to escape liability by having the lawsuit dismissed on summary judgment. At worst, this form will help the trainer to establish an assumption of risk defense. This document should be reviewed with the client and the client be given the opportunity to ask questions about the risks and benefits of the program. The client should be over 18 years of age to sign or have a parent/guardian sign the form.
  2. Client records. Keep detailed records of all observations, program changes and instructions for each client. It’s important to include all special instructions, warnings or limitations, progress notes, and injury information including details of any aid administered.
  3. Physician consent/clearance. Clients you consider to be high or moderate risk should be required to obtain medical clearance. Risk level can be assessed by going over the client’s health and exercise history.
  4. Fitness assessment. Determining whether clients can safely participate in an exercise program without any obvious risks injury. An initial screening helps you establish the client’s fitness level and set goals for their individual program. Follow-up assessments should be repeated occasionally to monitor progress.

Risky business

Many personal trainers sell dietary supplements and offer nutritional advice to their clients. Counseling clients on supplements can be risky for trainers not specifically educated and certified in those areas. Only registered dieticians should recommend or supply nutritional supplements. Believe it or not, a personal trainer who supplies or distributes supplements can get caught up in a product liability suit.

Spotting potential risks

It’s important to let your clients know your job is to help, not push. Clients may, for whatever reason, neglect to inform trainers of a “minor” ache or pain. Let your clients know that their program can always be modified to avoid injuries, which often occur when red flags are ignored. Let clients know you’re trained to determine the difference between general soreness and actual strain.

Other helpful articles and downloadable forms are available on our risk management page.

Protecting you and your business from liability claims

Did you know that liability protection is critical for all fitness trainers? It only takes one injury-related lawsuit to financially ruin your and your fitness training business. Having the right insurance protection offers you peace of mind.

Finding the right insurance coverage doesn’t have to be complicated. Our insurance experts understand your needs and the unique risks associated with your personal training business.

If you would like to learn more about liability prevention or are ready to get a customized insurance quote, apply online now or call us 800-622-7370.

There are no obligation or commitments when you call, 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: “The Liability Involved in Running a Personal Training Business,” 22 May, 2014.

Maintaining Fitness Center Equipment

An ounce of prevention could be worth hundreds of thousands

Did you hear the one about the fellow lifting weights while using a large exercise ball to support his back? As he was pumping two 40-lb. dumbbells in this position, the exercise ball seam suddenly split, deflating the ball and sending the man crashing to the floor. He suffered injuries to his wrists and back, which were treated, but he sued the fitness club and the manufacturer and distributor of the exercise ball for more than $5 million. Turns out he was an aspiring golfer hoping to join the PGA. He claimed the injuries derailed his career and potential prize winnings and product endorsement earnings.

Not just another frivolous lawsuit

The plaintiff alleged, among other things, that the club neglected “to conduct timely and adequate inspections of equipment for defects and potential hazards such as damage or excessive wear.” His claims were based on the ball manufacturer’s instructions indicating the product had a one-year life expectancy and should be checked “for wear “before each use.

After spending 2.5 years in court and hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees, a settlement was reached when the the fitness center was unable to document the date exercise ball was first put in use or provide an inspection record.

Preventing easily avoidable accidents

The manufacturers of each piece of equipment from treadmills to yoga mats comes with life expectancy and maintenance guidelines. To minimize the risk of Exercise ballan explosive situation like the one above, pay attention to, follow, and document compliance with the equipment manufacturer’s recommendations.

Replacing a piece of equipment is much cheaper, and safer, than the alternative.

A fitness center monthly equipment maintenance check should include, but is not limited to:

  • TV entertainment equipment and mounts .
  • Calibration and cleaning of cardio equipment per manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Inspection of treadmill belts and decks for wear.  Lubricate as needed.
  • Removal of treadmill motor shrouds for internal vacuuming.
  • Inspection of elliptical mechanical parts for wear. Lubricate as needed.
  • Inspect/lubricate bike chains, cranks, pedals and straps and replace as required.
  • Inspection of all strength training equipment, including but not limited to: adjusting cables, belts, pulley alignment, tightening bolts and adjusting range of motion cams.
  • Inspection of exercise class equipment, i.e. balls, steps, bands, weights, etc.

Source: Jeffrey Long.    To Avoid Lawsuits, Health Clubs Must Heed Equipment Life Expectancy,” Athletic Business. Sept. 2013

Hiring Fitness Club Staff (Infographic)

Should you hire employees or independent contractors?

As a health club owner, you’ve likely looked at reducing employment and liability-related costs by hiring personal and group trainers, massage therapists and other client-dependent workers. There are both pros and cons when hiring employees and independent contractors.

Many club owners hire both employees and independent contractors, depending on the job and/or unique circumstances involved. The following points in the Infographic and information that follows it might help you to decide which is best for your business.

Trainers: Employees or Contractors

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  • When paying an independent contractor a flat fee or agreed upon percentage of services rendered, the club isn’t compensating the contractor unless he/she is generating revenue.
  • Many independent trainers and massage therapists offer their clients personal services off premises and many often sell supplements and therapeutic products as well. The club owner may face sales competition if those same or similar products are sold in the club.
  • Hiring an independent contract reduces the owner’s liability for negligence or errors & omissions by shifting much of this risk to the independent contractor. Club owners should request a current certificate of liability insurance from the contractor (and keep it on file) that lists the club as an “additional insured” on the policy.
  • It’s much simpler to terminate a contractor than an employee, but be careful that the courts would actually classify the worker as an independent contractor.
  • Club owners have little control over a contractor’s business style,  teaching methods     or attitude.
  • A contractor is usually entrepreneurial by nature, and can become your biggest competitor. He/she will be familiar with your club’s strengths and weaknesses, and more than likely will have been given access to the membership roster.

 A word about Workers’ Compensation

 It’s usually assumed that issuing a 1099 to contractors saves costs on employment taxes and Workers’ Compensation. Depending on state statutes, the nature of the relationship, and how the contractor agreement is worded, the club owner may still be responsible for taxes and the contractor’s Workers’ Compensation benefits. It’s important to have a clear agreement that stipulates the contractor is an independent contractor. However, just calling the worker an independent contractor in an agreement is just one of the factors that a court will take into consideration.

 Below are three basic elements that should be included in any independent contractor agreement:

  1. A clear understanding of the separate relationship
  2. A requirement that the contractor maintain his/her own insurance
  3. A hold/harmless statement or waiver indemnifying the club for the contractor’s negligence

Protecting yourself from liability claims

Did you know that liability protection is critical for all personal trainers? It only takes one injury-related lawsuit to financially ruin you and/or your fitness business. Having the right insurance protection offers you peace of mind.

Insurance coverage does not have to be complicated. At SADLER, we understand your needs and the unique risks associated with your profession.

If you would like to learn more about liability prevention or are ready to get a customized insurance quote, just apply online now or call 800-622-7370.

There are no obligation  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 have nothing to lose.

Adventure Racing in South Carolina

Challenge courses find plenty of enthusiasts

Adventure Racing is a new high-intensity endurance sport capturing the attention of thousands throughout South Carolina. Each race features a unique set of obstacles that are physically and mentally challenging. The Spartan Beast was held in October, 2012. Over 3,000 participants ran 13 miles with more than 25 obstacles, including mud crawls, fire jumping, and rope climbing. When the race ends scores posted are not just best times but completion statistics and injury reports. This made us wonder; why are so many flocking to this new sport?

Self-discovery, bragging rights, physical and mental battles faced and defeated and camaraderie are just a few of the reasons participants find adventure racing appealing. The race inspires participants by pushing them to complete seemingly impossible obstacles not found in their daily lives. New obstacles are around every corner of the race and the choice is left to the participant to take on the obstacle and finish the race or fail while giving a good effort.

The races are known not juAdventure racing in South Carolinast for being extremely challenging, but for their participant-friendly environment. Volunteers, friends, teammates and other competitors cheer each other on with encouragement and kindness. The race brings out the best in people. It also is a way for participants to bring out the best in themselves, raising self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-worth.

“Combining my love for rock climbing, hiking, and activities that maim, I have fallen in love with obstacle racing,” said Angie Yong, owner of Fit Columbia and a multi-adventure race participant. She even has her clients training for their first race, the Rugged Maniac in March, 2013 and Tougher Mudder in April, 2013.

To try adventure racing for yourself call 803-529-4075. You never know what you are capable of until your try.

Source: “Is adventure racing the answer? “Columbia Star, Vol. 50, No. 10. Columbia, S.C. 30 Nov., 2012.

“2011 Best Fitness Instructor”

Contest winners announced

Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance is pleased to announce the winners of the “Sadler Facebook Best Fitness Instructor” contest.  The winner was determined by the most “likes” and nominations from group members and other participants.


Congratulations to Christopher Malenab of  Sacramento, California!  

 Chris received a $50 American Express gift card.

Due to the great response from our fitness instructors, we also chose two runners-up. Amazingly, they had the exact same number of likes.


Angela Ponzio of Elmwood Park, Illinois and Leslie Franklin of Springfield, Missouri, both of whom received a $25 American Express gift card.

Thank you to all the participants. We hope that you enjoyed the contest. The best part of the contest was actually seeing the comments  about how the nominated personal trainers changed people’s lives.

If you would like more information on Sadler’s fitness instructor insurance  visit us online today!

Sadler Sports “Hottest Fitness Instructor” 2011

Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance is pleased to announce the winners of the Facebook “Hottest Fitness Instructor” contest. The winner was determined by the most “likes” and nominations from group members and other participants.


Congratulations to Jill Berardelli Vadala of Fredericksburg, Virginia!

Jill will receive a $50 American Express gift card.

Due to the great response from our Fitness Instructors we have also chosen a runner-up.


Rebekah Kirshke

Rebekah will receive a $25 American Express gift card.

Thank you, ladies, and all those who participated. We hope that you enjoyed the contest. We enjoyed reading the comments that others left for you as well.

If you would like more information on the personal trainer insurance provided by Sadler Sports and Recreation, visit us today!

Coronary Artery Disease

Know who you’re training inside and out

Personal training can be a tricky trade when you are training a healthy client. Throw heart disease into the mix and your challenges rise, as does your increased liability.

Clients come to you for advice because you are the professional in this field.  Make it a point to learn about specific diseases and conditions that you discover about your client during your initial interview prior to putting them on a routine, working them out in the gym or providing other advice.  This is information not every client knows to share unless asked – and it’s information that is your responsibility to know.

Unfortunately, some instructors may assume that because they have purchased personal trainer liability insurance, they are protected from being sued. You need the proper coverage to protect you from the various risks to which you are exposed. Don’t think in terms of “if I’ll be sued,” but rather “when I’m sued.” Be sure to keep detailed documentation on all of your clients because you don’t know everything about the person hiring you as their trainer.

Just as important, make it a point to read informative articles and stay abreast of the constantly changing research and developments found at the American Heart Association.