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Is Your Personal Training Business Legally Compliant?

Not only do state, federal, and certifying bodies have requirements you must meet to stay above board with the law, but there are other legal, managerial aspects of the business, such as limiting your scope of practice to that of a personal trainer.

If all of the thoughts and considerations surrounding legal compliance has got you feeling a little fatigued, don’t worry. The team at AFPA has done the heavy lifting for you.

In this article, we address everything that you need to know about ensuring that your personal training business is legally healthy so that you can focus on keeping your clients physically healthy:

Ensuring Your Personal Training Business Is Compliant

When your personal training business is compliant with the law, not only are you keeping your clients safe, but you also save yourself from the burdens of expensive fines and potential loss of certification.

In short, it doesn’t help anyone when your business’ compliance is a bit under the weather. Ensuring you are performing within your scope of practice is just the beginning. There are other compliance and reporting issues of which you should be aware.

Working within the Scope of Your Practice

Personal trainers hold a professional duty of care and scope of practice toward their clients. Ultimately, your goal as a fitness professional is to educate clients as to how they can accurately and adequately feed and exercise their bodies.

Anything more or less could put your business at risk for legal exposure. You must be aware of the legal ramifications regarding your profession.

Part of staying legally compliant within the scope of your practice begins with researching the laws in your state. While there are federal and industry standards in place, you must also meet your state’s statutes regarding the scope of practice for personal trainers and similarly titled individuals.

An excellent resource for researching your state laws can be at the Center for Nutrition Advocacy. They have a ton of excellent resources listed by state, so make sure you check them out for more information.

In addition to state laws, make sure that you are also performing within your scope of practice according to your certifying agency’s code of ethics. You can check with their website for your annual requirements and range of practice standards.

Proper LLC and Business Entity Formation

Another housekeeping item regarding your professional compliance as a personal trainer includes checking up on the status of your business formation. While many personal trainers register as a limited-liability corporation (LLC), there are other business entity elections of which can be taken.

Whichever entity you chose to form when you started your business carries specific implications and reporting requirements. Check with your nearest secretary of state’s office to find out if there is anything further you need to provide them to stay compliant.

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Annual Reporting Requirements

Personal trainers who meet their annual reporting requirements are rock stars! When you formed an LLC or other entity that limits personal liability or utilizes double taxation, you agreed to take on the state and federal reporting requirements for your organization. Annual reports are generally required for LLCs, limited partnerships, and non-profit organizations.

Annual reporting typically requires personal trainers to complete a form through their local secretary of state’s office that includes

  • Changes to your practice’s principal business address
  • The names and contact details of your business managers and directors
  • The individual who is named the registered agent
  • Filing fees to ensure that your business entity stays formed

Whether your practice’s information has changed or not, you must still provide the information your state requires. Otherwise, the state may dissolve your LLC or other registered formation due to inactivity.

Having the Right Contracts in Place

Contracts are the legal lifeblood of any personal trainer. However, many shy away from this aspect of the business since they don’t want to impose unfairly or can’t afford an attorney to draft a contract. And while it’s okay to experience these issues, you shouldn’t put your business at risk for legal exposure.

It’s essential to have the right contracts in place so that you can improve your relationships with clients, run your business more efficiently, as well as mitigate your liability for damages and injury.

At a minimum, personal trainers should have the following contracts or disclaimers in place:

  • Client services agreement
  • Liability for injury
  • Limitations and guarantees
  • Cancellation and refund policies

In reality, the contractual obligations of personal training professionals are boilerplate and straightforward. That means you likely do not need an attorney to put basic protections in place unless you offer unconventional service packages or training techniques. You can find an excellent source of contract templates and advice through LegalZoom or LetterDash, among others.

As you can see, there are several considerations that you must make as a personal training professional and entrepreneur. The very nature of our business already exposes us to liability. Mitigating these issues only stands to indicate that your business will perform better in the long-run.

In summary, here is a checklist that you can use to ensure that your personal training business is healthy from a legal standpoint:

  1. Ensure you are performing work within your scope of practice by checking with your state’s laws and the rules of your certifying body.
  2. Contact your local secretary of state’s office to ensure that your LLC or other business formation is formed correctly.
  3. Meet the annual reporting requirements set forth by your secretary of state’s office.
  4. Use free online resources to implement or update your client service contracts and waivers.

Using these four easy checkpoints, you can ensure that your personal training business is healthy and ready to rock.

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