Fitness waiver templates (Australia)

Why waivers are so important for your fitness business and tips on how to craft this legal document.

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If you're looking to launch your own gym or fitness programme, then you'll need to think about fitness waivers. Even under the supervision of experienced personal trainers, the reality is that injuries and accidents can and often do still happen.

A fitness waiver offers a peace of mind and protection for the gym or trainer, as well as transparency to the participants by informing them of the risks to the activity. Read on to find out more.

What is a fitness waiver?

A fitness waiver is a type of legal document that works as an agreement between the fitness operator and its participants. Gyms, fitness classes and sports clubs are all considered fitness-related programs.

It protects the operator, including fitness instructors and personal trainers, by:

  • Informing the participants of the risks involved in certain activities
  • Asking the participants to forfeit their ability to sue in the event of injury, damage, loss or death.

Signing a waiver is a standard practice across recreational activities, including fitness, where there are potential risks of injuries involved.

fitness waiver template from Lawpath

Download this template at Lawpath

When should I use a fitness waiver?

You should use a fitness waiver if you want to protect your business and keep it on a sound legal footing.

It's worth keeping in mind that having a waiver won't mean you're exempt you from all responsibility, as it won't protect you against misconduct or negligence. Examples of negligence include not having properly qualified staff and not having first aid equipment on site.

Fitness waiver vs disclaimers

A disclaimer is a document which essentially removes your liability for something and it's typically used by a company to cut legal risks. Disclaimers and also set up to protect businesses by reducing liability. However, disclaimers on their own are typically read by consumers, while waivers are signed documents.

Some waivers may include disclaimers, for example, a fitness class may have a disclaimer that participants must consult their physician before starting any exercise program.

What does a fitness waiver include and not include?

Fitness waivers will vary from brand to brand, but they typically include:

  • Acknowledgement of risk. In the case of fitness programmes, there might be activities that include risks of injury, loss, damage or death.
  • Release of liability. Having outlined the risks specific to the activity, this statement can waive the customer's right to sue the company.
  • Acknowledgment of physical condition. A short section confirming participants have consulted with their doctor before commencing this programme.
  • Terms acceptance. A place for the signature of the customer to acknowledge that they've agreed to the contents of the document.
  • Responsibility to abide by gym rules. You may wish to briefly outline the key rules.
  • Damage to equipment. State the process for damaged equipment.

How effective is a fitness waiver?

Waivers are legally binding documents and so the can be very effective at protecting your company from being sued.

There may be exceptions to this in certain circumstances. For example, take a Supreme Court case between a student studying fitness and the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT). The student injured himself while performing exercise activities set by a fellow student, which was approved by the class supervisor.

Even though the student had signed a waiver, the Court ruled the case in favour of the student, who was awarded damages of $255,261. The ruling came down to unequal bargaining power and the exercise itself, which was deemed unsafe and negligent on the institute's behalf.

Do I need to use a lawyer for a fitness waiver?

It's your call, but the example of the CIT student above illustrates why you might well want to seek out a company lawyer. A qualified professional will be able to help you work through the liability risks which are specific to your business.

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How do I write a fitness waiver?

You can combine your fitness waiver with your customer registration form (often called an enrolment form). You might break your document down as follows:

  • An opening section that gathers your customer's personal details, including emergency contact details.
  • A second part section on your customer's health. Ask them to list any pre-existing conditions, injuries and other limitations.
  • Finally, the all-important waiver and lease of liability. You'll need to present the information clearly and (like the rest of the document) use language that is legally sound.

There are many different ways to write your fitness waiver, but by utilising the information above you'll be off to a great start. If you get stuck, then you can get legal help online.

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