How to Protect Your Fitness Center from Liability in the New Year
"New year, new you" is a mantra shared by millions of Americans as the holidays close and the new year begins. While the desire to improve your health is admirable, the annual influx of novice gym-goers each January leaves fitness centers vulnerable to liability concerns.
Though workout injuries can happen to even the most seasoned fitness buffs, they're especially common in beginners who are prone to over-exertion or unfamiliar with the equipment and methods.
While new patrons are a good thing for business owners, in the fitness industry, they can present a heightened risk for liability.
How to Ensure You're Protected from Liability
A gym liability waiver is essential for assuring your fitness center is protected from liability in the event of an accident or injury. While most gyms already have a release of liability form in place for new patrons, it's important to revisit the document on occasion to ensure you're covered from all potential risks.
This might include risks associated with new equipment, classes, or features you're offering, such as a swimming pool, sauna, or on-sight massage therapy. Amid the pandemic, many gym owners are also including language that releases them from liability concerning COVID-19 -- specifically, if a guest becomes sick while in your facility.
What Should My Waiver Include?
A good liability waiver should always include the following:
- Releasor (the participant): Name, address, contact information.
- Releasee (you, the organization): Name, address, contact information.
- Effective Date: (The date the document was signed.)
- Acknowledgment of Potential Risk: Depending on your industry, this may include bodily or personal injury, property damage, illness, or death.
- Assumption of Risk: Participants should agree to assume all reasonable risks involved in the event or activity.
- Insurance: Notify participants that your insurance will not cover injuries, illnesses, or death unless otherwise noted. If applicable, participants should assume responsibility for any medical bills if an injury occurs.
- Confirmation of Review: Identify that the participant has completed and understands the document, is signing of their own free will and has not been coerced.
- Signature(s): Provide room for signatures for adults and spaces for minors participating with parental consent.
Because liability release laws vary by state, you should always work with a licensed attorney or insurance agent who is familiar with the laws in your area. Working with a professional will offer additional assurance that you're operating within your legal limits and help ensure that your waiver is enforceable in a court of law.
How Can I Make Signing More Convenient?
While necessary, liability waivers aren't much fun to sign. If you're still using paper waivers, they're even less fun to manage. That's because paper liability releases are time-consuming, both for your guests and staff. They require time and resources to print, hand out, sign, file, and store. Fortunately, digital liability waivers offer the same protection as a paper waiver, but without the inconveniences.
Benefits of Smartwaiver Digital Gym Waivers:
1. Expedite time at check-in
- Guests can complete their waiver before they arrive via email, SMS, or on your website. They can also access your waiver from their mobile device by scanning your unique QR code on arrival.
2. Ensure accuracy
- Unlike paper waivers, digital waivers offer crystal clear text fields, ensuring guest information is always accurate. With advanced features like File Attach and Auto Photo Capture, you can include vital documents, such as vaccine cards, drivers' licenses, and guest photos with each signed waiver.
- Smartwaiver uses the same encryption technology employed by the U.S. government. Your signed waivers are automatically uploaded to the cloud and stored in your secure WaiverVault where they're only accessible to members of your team.
4. Integrate with Your Favorite Software
- Digital waivers help you save time and ensure accuracy by integrating with your most-used client management systems. The Smartwaiver + Mindbody integration is especially valuable for fitness centers, as it automatically creates a new user profile in your MBO dashboard anytime a new guest signs a waiver.
For most Americans, the new year is a time to make plans. It allows them to reflect on the previous year and set new intentions for the year to come. If you're still relying on paper liability waivers in your fitness center, make 2022 the year you make a change.
Learn why Smartwaiver has been the leader in digital liability waivers for 10-years by exploring our features. Then, see for yourself by signing up for your 30-day free trial.