The Gym Killed My Wife! Part 4

How this will affect your club

If the courts find that Crunch and the trainer are negligent for not warning its members about the side-effects of certain supplements, and are responsible for engaging in “reckless” training practices, you had better prepare yourself for the litigation floodgates to open. This case has the potential of “raising the bar” on health club and personal trainer liability. In other words, this case could be the catalyst for the development of specific industry guidelines that bring us ever closer to standards similar to those found in the medical and dental professions.

I’m not advocating the need for specific industry standards. Standards can often become a double-edged sword — plaintiff attorneys love standards. I do, however, encourage the practice of common sense. Even before the outcome of this case is decided, we need to take a hard look at our operations, the credentials of our trainers and the side-effects of the supplements that we sell and/or recommend.

I have spoken at length about this case with an attorney friend in New York. The following are suggestions that may help curb the flow of litigation:

1. Be careful about gathering too much information about your member’s health history. The more you know, the more you increase your “duty of care.”

2. If you do gather detailed health information about your member, and there is any existing health problem or concern, we strongly recommend obtaining a physician’s release form.

3. Control your trainers. Hire trainers as in-house employees so you can set specific controls on what is expected of them. Just because a trainer is an independent contractor does not insulate you from litigation if that trainer screws up.

4. Trainers and club owners, be sure your membership or training agreement clearly states that members are responsible for their health and well being. Members should be aware that you do not provide medical analysis and, therefore, you are not responsible for their health problems.

5. Have an attorney review your waiver/hold-harmless agreement. Most states will uphold a waiver if it is written properly and it is conspicuously displayed on the membership agreement. Don’t forget to use a guest waiver as well.

6. Know all of your members’ names and as much about them as possible. Have your staff practice their customer service skills every single day. Great bars and restaurants know all of their patrons, why shouldn’t we? This will not only increase member retention, but will also minimize litigation exposure. The bottom line is: Friends don’t sue friends.

Every person need learn basic first aid techniques. You never know at what time you may need it – your loved one, you might be on holiday, at work.