Personal trainers frequently require clients to obtain medical clearance, sign informed consent waivers and releases from liability. These forms prevent you from holding your trainer legally responsible for actions taken that are outside of the client's reasonable control or responsibility. The forms also establish an educational basis for your relationship, and inform you about assessments and potential risks associated with exercise testing and programming as well as your rights as a client.
No two training businesses will require exactly the same documents. The information collected will be similar, yet trainers draft their forms to meet their individual business and service needs. Basic forms you could be required to complete include: waiver of liability, informed consent, health history, medical history, and medical clearance. Two or more of these could be combined in one form rather than presented by itself. A medical waiver specifically would be a disclosure of your current conditions and include a release of liability for the trainer and or the training facility.
The waiver of liability protects the trainer and prevents you from holding the trainer legally responsible for any injuries during training or that you might attribute to training after it is over. An informed consent relays to you the specific reason and nature of fitness assessments and lets you know what to expect. Your signed health and medical history is your declaration that you've revealed everything that could possibly effect your exercise programming. You sign and submit a medical clearance form to your allied health profession if requested by your trainer so that your doctor or physical therapist will release the pertinent information about exercise guidelines or limitations to the trainer before you begin an exercise program.
A medical waiver ensures that you have communicated openly with your trainer all information that will effect your training program design. It bridges the gap between the medical community and your personal trainer. Based on the information you present the trainer may decline to begin training with you until the medical clearance from your doctor has been obtained.
Contract law varies from state to state. Your trainer is responsible for making sure forms that he uses are enforceable. If you question the credibility of your trainer in business you might want to reconsider your relationship with him. By signing a form you confirm your responsibility in your relationship. You declare your volunteer participation in physical activity and assume the risk. Your right to confidentiality of all information and for discontinuing any exercise or testing procedure at any time should be presented.
Any contract you enter into should come with standard expectations. You can expect the language to be clear and the print to be large enough to read easily. Each section of any agreement should be highlighted and not hidden. That would include but not be limited to the waiver, release of liability, and assumption of risk. The agreement should appear fair to both you and to the trainer or facility. You may be asked to relinquish claims on behalf of not only yourself, but your spouse and heirs now and in the future. In the event of negligence however, a fitness professional would still on a situational basis be expected to prove that he acted as a prudent and credible professional did based on industry standards.
- "Clinical Exercise Specialist Manual: ACE's Source for Training Special Populations"; Richard Cotton and Ross Andersen; 1999
- "ACE Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist Manual: Cedric Bryant and Daniel Green; 2009
- "IDEA Trainer Success";Avoiding the Pitfalls of Preprinted Legal Contracts; Sean Riley; April; 2006
- "Athletic Business"; Contract Law - Before the Fall.