Again, without giving any specific legal advice here, essentially a client can sue for ANYTHING! The real issue is can they win the suit. The success or failure of a lawsuit is so fact specific that it’s fairly impossible to give a good answer to this question, but again, they can FILE a suit for basically anything.
I am sure they could. I also believe that for a good trainer, there should never be a base for such a suit. I can only imagine this to come from a mentally unstable individual who is looking to sue somebody for something.
Difficult to imagine such a scenario in reality. I believe if I were to be suspicious, I would make sure only to train this individual with others around.
Ultimately, regardless how unfounded a charge may be, our reputation is one of our greatest assets as trainers.
I am a professional Counselor as well as a certified Personal Fitness Trainer. I have an extensive background in mental health. Because of my education in recognizing and being able to diagnosis mental disorders I am usually able to detect personality problems beforehand.Mental harm type lawsuits are filed usually due to sexual misconduct allegations. You may have rejected a client’s sexual advances and they are now “mentally harmed.” Or you may have actually started up an affair then want to end it and the client will then sue you for “taking advantage of their vulnerability” or whatever. However, it is relatively simple to spot trouble if you keep your eyes wide open and not allow desire for more money to impede your common sense.
There are many mentally unstable individuals who will come your way as a fitness professional. These individuals will usually present with unreasonable expectations regarding weight loss/fitness results.They may also appear to be more interested in flirting than in developing a fitness routine. A thorough assessment will warn you of unreasonable expectations beforehand. Another thing to watch for is the client who wants to give you gifts ( especially money), meet you at unspecified times, call you at any time,and otherwise cross professional boundaries. If you make the mistake of crossing boundaries with the client, perceived emotional injury can happen for that client and they may want to sue you in revenge. Be especially mindful of the opposite sex (or same sex these days) client who hits on you blatantly or covertly. Male clients who think they are being “covert” will say things like “We have to be careful working with each other because when things get going well and we click…” etc. or words to that effect. A female covert will be overly complimentary of your physique, want to know about your personal life, pay for a lot of “extra” time and the like. Fitness Trainers are human and enjoy compliments and attention just like anyone else. The thing is to recognize and be able to nip potential problems in the bud. If you feel nervous about a client, listen to your body and take steps to eliminate the problem. If you haven’t crossed any professional boundaries, there should be no problem with referring that person to another professional. You can tell the person out right that they are crossing professional boundaries that you are not comfortable with (best approach,) or you can tell them that you simply think they would have better results with another trainer and/or you are no longer available due to schedule conflicts or whatever you can think of that’s not a lie.
The other thought is that sometimes people meet and become intimately involved due to working together as a trainer/client. If this is the case and you decide that you want to have a “relationship” other than or in addition to personal training, you must sever your PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP IMMEDIATELY. You must have your former client sign an area on your training contract that states that the contract is no longer in effect, the training has ceased, and you are no longer receiving money for personal training services. Make sure you date this addendum and both parties sign and agree. After that point, the person cannot make a valid claim that mental harm was caused by professional services because you are no longer rendering services professionally. If you continue to train this person and receive, or in exchange for money (gifts, whatever,) and have a sexual relationship with them, you are engaging in prostitution rather than personal training. This is an important distinction especially when you are having these types of relationships with more than one person. Hopefully, if it happens that you meet your soul mate while training and take steps to end the professional relationship and you all stay involved in a committed relationship, the former professional aspect should not come into play. What sometimes happens is when a casual sex relationship is had with several different people, someone will decide that they have been “mentally harmed” if you have not handled your professional business first.
I have given you a lot to think about and I hope it helps. As the person above stated, our professional reputation is most important. Avoid crossing professional boundaries and you should be okay.