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We’ve talked about all levels of gym owners, from those who just got the idea to open a gym, to those ready to sell everything and never look back. We’ve also talked with gym owners across industries including CrossFit, Power Lifting, Cheer, Gymnastics, Personal Training, and more. Turns out, everyone needs the same basic legal documents. Are there more than this list? Sure. However, every established gym owner we talk to needs at least these:

  1. Liability Waiver: Raise your hand if you use some general form liability waiver that you found online when you opened your gym? Here’s the problem that liability waiver wasn’t written for your industry. Do you have cameras in your gym? Does your waiver require your clients to waiver their privacy rights? Some gyms allow members to bring dogs. If you do, do you have a provision in your waiver that protects you against property damage and bites? Sexual abuse claims run ramped in the Cheer and Gymnastics industry. Does your waiver acknowledge the physical touching that will come from your trainers?
  2. Membership Contract: We have yet to talk to a gym that doesn’t take recurring monthly payments. So, every gym needs at least a contract giving you the authority to take those payments. If you have a contact, great job, you are one step ahead. However, most states require your written contract to include more and we rarely talk with gyms with state specific membership contracts.
  3. Staff Agreements: Beyond the age old question about whether your staff are employees or independent contractors, you need Staff Agreements. These Agreements set the expectations between you and your staff. In the law, we like to argue that it doesn’t exist if it isn’t recorded somewhere. If you are going to provide your employees with 7 days of vacation each year, put that in writing.
  4. Subcontractor Agreements: We also call these informal sublease agreements. Do you have a chiropractor, physical therapist, local high school team, etc. who pays you to use your space. Maybe you have extra space in your gym and a massage therapist wants to pay you $500.00 per month to set up shop in that space and recruit some business from your members. That’s a great idea for supplemental revenue. Now, put it all in writing.

One of the biggest excuses we hear is, “But, I’ve been doing it this way for years. Why do I need to change it now?” There is no time like the present to limit your legal exposure. Legal contracts for gyms are designed to set expectations with Clients, staff, and others. For example, if your membership contract says you require a 30 day notice to cancel, then your members are more likely to know and expect that when they decide to leave. This will cut down on problems and the likelihood of clients seeing you.

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