Opening and running your own business is hard. If you’ve gone through the work to open a gym - congratulations! While this is a huge accomplishment, the potential of legal action is still present at any time. In a split instance, an angry or injured member could decide that the only way to get back at you is through a lawsuit. If that happens, you will want to make sure you already took the time to address your legal exposure. Doing so could save your business and all of your hard work.
Almost every gym’s legal documents are insufficient and not providing the protection needed. Being a gym owner, there should always be three primary legal documents on your radar. Here are the legal documents and some tips to check your legal exposure:
- The Liability Waiver:
a. Does your waiver contain the necessary sections:
Acknowledgement of Danger, Acceptance of Responsibility, Assumption of Risk, and Waiver of Liability/Indemnification?
b. Name everyone:
Your LLC, the branding name, the owners, officers, agents, employees, independent contractors, representatives, executors, and all others.
c: Places for members to initial:
Courts love to see that the person signing the waiver acknowledged every section. Fitness platforms like Wodify allow you to add initial lines to your electronic waivers.
- The Membership Contract:
a: Make sure your contract is compliant with the law:
Many states have specific laws governing membership contracts. If yours doesn’t comply, it could be automatically void.
b: Include the automatic renewal term and cancellation policy:
Your members must be on notice about all things that impact their money. Better yet, if you have these policies already in your contract, add initial lines. That will save you headaches in the future.
c: Provide your new members with copies of the contract:
You have to provide a copy of the signed contract, and what was purchased, by the member. That means you can’t use a generic membership contract that doesn’t list the membership option and price. Wodify provides a copy of the signed contract and a summary of the financial terms of the agreement directly to your new member via email.
- The Staff Agreement:
a: Whether your staff is considered an employee or independent contractor, you need a written agreement that outlines your legal and financial relationship. If the tax status of your staff is ever challenged by the IRS, these agreements won’t provide tax status, but will help to prove your case.
b: Make sure you have someone, like Gym Lawyers, review your documents if you want a second opinion. You want to make sure both you and your clients thoroughly understand every section.
Just because you’ve been open for years without an issue doesn’t mean legal exposure isn’t present. Don’t get caught up in the narrative of, “It won’t happen to me.” It unfortunately does happen, whether it’s gyms that have been open one year or 15 years. There is no time like the present to take the time to protect your hard-earned money.
Do you have any other legal tips for fitness owners? Are there other documents that helped you prep for a legal situation? Share with us on social media @wodify!
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