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Protect Yourself & Your Clients: 5 Essential Legal Considerations for Health and Wellness Professionals

Are you ready to hit the ground running with your health, nutrition, or fitness coaching certification?

We love your energy! But, not so fast… 

For the health of your business and your profession, take the time necessary to get your legal ducks in a row. 

For all businesses, but especially those that involve people’s health, you need to make sure your business practices are legal in your state and that you are protecting your clients and your business. 

Here are five essential legal considerations for health and wellness professionals. 

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Know Your Scope of Practice and State Laws

All professions that directly impact people’s health have guidelines about what they can (or should) and can’t (or shouldn’t) do. This includes professions in the fitness, nutrition, medical, and mental health field, among others. The differences depend on the profession and the state or country where you plan to practice. 

In the most rigid cases, there are laws and regulations that specify what health professionals can do. In the most flexible cases, there may not be regulations, but the limitations are imposed by what is within each professions’ limit of knowledge. 

It is important that you consult with an attorney who is familiar with your local laws. Cost-efficient sources of legal advice include Legal Shield, RocketLawyer, and Legal Zoom. 

Once you’ve received your certification with AFPA, you might have questions about what sort of job opportunities you can seek out or what kind of business you can build. You might also have questions about what is legal in your state. 

AFPA has developed several resources for certified professionals from all fields that can help to answer your questions. 

Legally Form Your Business

One of the most common questions newly certified professionals have after completing their program is, “What are the next steps I need to take to build my business?”

There are many ways to go about this, and the path from getting your credentials to building and growing your business may differ. We’ve compiled a list of resources that will help you out no matter where you are in establishing or expanding your business. 

There’s no need to spend time on search engines to try and figure out what you need to do to legally form your health and wellness business. We’ve created a complete guide specifically for health and wellness coaches. 

Read the Complete Guide to Legally Forming Your Wellness Business here

Here are some other resources you might find useful:

Get Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability insurance is comparable to an auto insurance policy for your business. It protects you against losses (financial or otherwise) that arise from legal claims your clients could file against you, like those of negligence and malpractice. 

Keep in mind that liability insurance is absolutely necessary, even if you have a business license or are registered as an LLC. Liability insurance will cover the costs associated with retaining an attorney and reimbursing your client for medical expenses. 

Pro-tip: When you are seeking a quote for liability insurance, make sure that you are accurately answering the questions so that you are not over-insured or under-insured. 

AFPA has examined many insurance organizations and has compiled a listing of those organizations that offer reasonable rates with excellent coverage. For example, the average (annual) premium for a Certified Personal Trainer is approximately $100, and instant quotes are available online. 

You can learn more about professional liability insurance built specifically for your profession here: 

Prepare Client Forms 

If you’re in the business of health and fitness, it’s because you live and breathe a healthy lifestyle. Of course, breaking a sweat and helping your clients meet their fitness goals is only a small part of it.

Being a personal trainer, health coach, or nutritionist also means being a responsible business owner. 

Just like any other business, a professional fitness business is grounded by specific practices and paperwork that keep things in order and help you to manage your clients. It’s the fundamental system that will govern your business.

Some client forms may have legal implications. Release forms, for example, may be relevant for your business, but they need to be prepared by an attorney. 

Other client forms are meant to inform your practice and guide your relationship with your client. These may include questionnaires, personal history forms, and coaching tools. Keeping a copy of client forms, in addition to dated session notes, shows a track record of your meetings with clients. 

There are hundreds of forms you can choose from to implement. When deciding what forms to use, it is important that you ask yourself—what do YOU want to track? What do your clients want to track? Answering these questions will help you decide on which forms to use. 

In addition to providing you with templates for many of the forms you might find useful in your practice, we’ve also highlighted some of the most common forms health and wellness professionals use. 

Keep Your Certification Active by Earning Your CECs

It might be tempting to ditch the books after you’ve obtained your certification. However, you must keep your knowledge up-to-date and find opportunities to continue your education. 

To keep your certification active, you are required to obtain at least sixteen hours of approved continued education, called Continuing Education Credits (CECs).  If you don’t renew your certification on time, you cannot legally practice as a coach. 

Continuing your education after you’ve gotten certified is not only essential to keep your certification active, it is also what is best for your clients and your business. Health science is constantly changing and improving, and finding CECs of interest can help you learn key techniques and obtain knowledge that will ensure you are providing the best service to your clients. 

You can learn more about earning your CECs and keeping your knowledge up-to-date here: 

Main Takeaways

The legal aspect of running a coaching business can seem tedious and confusing, but it is essential to your professional practice. Understanding the legal implications, legally forming your business, and getting support from a lawyer where needed are all vital aspects to protecting your business and keeping it growing and thriving. 

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