Gyms, Cross Fit, & Fitness Studios – Limiting Trainer & Owner Liability – Background Checks
Health and fitness facilities which include traditional gyms, health clubs, cross fit affiliates and others allocate over 40% of their gross revenue to employee wages, salaries, and benefits. These employees and sometimes independent contractors are vital to the success of fitness based businesses. They are responsible not only for the retention of current members but often serve as the primary recruiters for new members and their families.
While continuous professional education focused on business development can assist a business in these areas, gym owners cannot ignore that these professionals have a dual responsibility to provide a reasonably safe experience within the facility. Included within this responsibility is the ability to respond to potential health and safety emergencies.
Owners must ensure that their fitness directors, fitness instructors, personal trainers, group exercise instructors, as well as health and wellness coaches have and maintain the necessary education, training, certification, and hands on experience.
These professionals who are responsible for pre-activity screening, prescribing, instructing, or monitoring activity programs must have automated external defibrillation (AED) and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certifications from qualified organizations
What are the major certifications in the industry?
Currently there are 5 major certifications that are available within the health/fitness industry. These include the following:
- American Council on Exercise (ACE)
- Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)
- National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
- National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
Why training is important?
A recent report found that approximately 13% of gym members are over the age of 65 and over 25% are between the ages of 45 to 64. This population is more likely to have one or more medical conditions which would include diabetes, hear disease, cancer, hypertension, or COPD.
Given these statistics, it is critical that gym/fitness facility owners ensure that at least one person is always on duty who has the training and certification to administer CPR and/or use an AED. In addition, the facility should maintain an emergency response plan which should include training anticipated rescuers to respond to emergencies in an appropriate and timely manner.
What else should owners do beyond fitness education? Why criminal background checks are necessary.
Finally, owners should conduct criminal background checks on all employees and independent contractors. It is the facilities obligation to ensure that their employees and contractors are not persons with past criminal histories which could make them a threat to the safety and security of members.
Owners can conduct background checks through local law enforcement or through regional national companies that offer these services to private organizations owners should also develop an employee handbook which should detail all of the employees operating procedures, employee responsibilities with regards to continuing education and certifications, along with anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies that apply to all employees at the facility.
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