Client Injuries Can Happen. Are You Covered?

by Ted Devine on Dec 13, 2013

When was the last time you took a hard look at the risks your business faces and the systems that you have—or don’t have—in place to safeguard yourself when disaster strikes? Investing time now to ensure adequate risk management precautions can bring you major savings, in both time and money, if an unexpected event occurs, such as a client lawsuit, an injury or an equipment breakdown.

Not sure what kinds of risk your training business exposes you to? In this article you’ll learn how to manage the most costly risks to your business and how to stay ahead of the risk management curve as your business grows.

Common (and Costly) Risks That Plague Fitness Professionals

While operating your business with reasonable care goes a long way toward ensuring the safety of your clients and assets, remember that accidents can happen to even the most diligent trainers. Plus, the longer you’re in business and the more clients you serve, the greater the chances of an accident.

Read on to understand some of the most prominent risks that personal trainers face.

Client Injuries

Despite your best efforts to encourage proper form and get your clients to use reasonable weight, eventually someone will veer away from your guidance and get hurt. The odds of that happening increase as the number and independence of clients increase. Even if you serve clients strictly one-on-one, an injury can happen. New clients run the risk of overextending themselves and ending up hurt. Older exercisers are especially susceptible to such injuries. And don’t forget that clients who are inexperienced in gym settings can do more than just strain a muscle: dropping weights, knocking over equipment and falling off machines are all potential sources of injury.

Here are the most basic ways to minimize client injury risk:

  • Invest time in safety training for every new client.
  • Post signs throughout the facility about proper handling and use of equipment.
  • Establish a rapid response system for when injuries occur.

In addition, a general liability insurance policy will cover the costs of an injury-related lawsuit (including damages and attorney’s fees) if a hurt client initiates one.

Equipment Damage

Whether you have a gym full of machines or a select few pieces of gear in an office, you rely on your equipment to serve your clients. Repair and replacement can be costly, and the more clients you serve, the greater the chances that something will malfunction. Even worse: Unexpected equipment breakdowns can lead to downtime, forcing you to lose income from clients you’re unable to serve.

In addition to normal equipment wear and tear, consider the potential for theft or storm damage, which exists for everyone (though the latter may vary considerably by geographic location). Equipment damage and theft are fairly straightforward risks to protect against. Investing in adequate property insurance can ensure that you have access to the funds you need to quickly repair or replace gear when something goes wrong.

Personal or Employee Injury

The risk of on-the-job injury is real. Injuries can happen when employees help a struggling client, rearrange equipment and load or unload machines—or if they simply trip over loose carpet. If you or your employees teach classes, those risks increase. Sure, you understand how to maintain proper form, but even the most experienced trainers get tired and have “off days.”

For questions to ask during an exit interview and more tips, please see “Insurance Considerations for Fitness Professionals” in the online IDEA Library (August 2013 issue of IDEA Trainer Success). If you do not receive IDEA Trainer Success and would like to upgrade your membership so that you do, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332.

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About the Author

Ted Devine

Ted Devine IDEA Author/Presenter