In Affiliation, Reference

March 20, 2010

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Monique Ames of CrossFit Evolution believes every affiliate should have a liability waiver—and a good one.

I don’t care who you are or where you train or who you train: you better have everyone—and I mean everyone—sign a waiver before you start training him or her or even letting the athlete swing on the pull-up bars.

When talking to new affiliates that are training family, friends and co-workers out of a garage, I often find out that they don’t have anyone sign a waiver and don’t have insurance. If this is the case, here’s the truth: you are literally one bad day away from bankruptcy.

What’s the biggest excuse for not having everyone sign a waiver? Usually something like this: “He’s my best friend,” “He’s family,” or “He’s got plenty of money and he’s not like that.”

Oh really? What happens if that person is injured during a training session?

Note: Liability laws differ from state to state, and from nation to nation. Gym owners should have their waiver reviewed by a lawyer licensed to practice in their jurisdiction.

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19 Comments on “Protecting Your Business: The Waiver”

1

wrote …

FYI In many states a waiver will not release you from any liability but they do serve as a deterrent as most people don't know this.

2

wrote …

Also, specific verbage can be important and can vary from state to state. It's always prudent to have a lawyer review any such document prior to use; better to know your waiver meets legal muster ahead of time than to have the plaintiff's attorney prove otherwise.

3

wrote …

Am I the only one who finds it disturbing that there are more and more articles on business, promotion, liablity, etc? Isn't it exactly this kind of attitude that is typical of a typical gym - just machines and pink dumbbells, lest you should strain yourself while loading the bar and sue them? Personally, if anyone tried to shove a waiver in my face I would walk away - if a trainer is not willing to accept responsibility for the welfare of his clients, he is not worth his fees. And juxtaposing this article and Coach Glassman's Relationship Business only makes me wonder.

4

wrote …

As someone who is seriously looking to open a business for the first time, I personally really like the move toward showing that side of the community. I know that I want to help people, and I know that I don't want to make any more mistakes than I have to. Having a chance to listen to the candid opinions of those experienced business owners makes me feel much more secure.

I don't know that I would put the articles related to the business of CrossFit shoulder to shoulder with the other articles, however. Tucking them into the Affiliate section, out of reach to us normal athletes isn't really what I'm thinking. Maybe they could be posted and categorized, but not show up on the Journal front page?

5

Richard Meurk wrote …

Word Stoyanov!

6

wrote …

Jordan- I hear where you are coming from but totally disagree. Running a box and training clients is a business for many of our athletes. It's how they put food on the table. If members in the community can share their ideas on how to do this more successfully it just helps us share this lifestyle and culture with more and more people! And (speaking as a lawyer here) you should have your clients sign a waiver- although they are not always enforceable, at the very least it serves as evidence that you have informed your client of the dangers inherent in training. Although I think we all agree that there are greater dangers inherent in not training at all! We all know that accidents can occur, any good trainer will accept responsibility for the welfare of his or her clients but that doesn't equate to accepting legal liability for the risks inherent in any activity.
Best wishes,
Black

7

wrote …

Eric, I totally agree with you. Everything has a legal side including Crossfit.

Jordan and James, I think it is great that Crossfit is concerned with their affliates. One of the problems I have with Crossfit is the lack of connection between Crossfit HQ and the affliates. I want to know that Crossfit is around to stay! I think Crossfit is doing this with the business journals and the Coaches Prep courses. Everything evolves, and Crossfit is no exception.

8

Jocelyn Rylee wrote …

Every lawyer that has trained in our box has said "you know this waiver won't do anything for you right?"
The truth is people will sue you if they want to regardless of what they've signed. If you have people training under your supervision than you are liable. The waiver does however keep our insurance provider happy... and they're the one that pays should we get sued.

Be aware of everything that's happening in your box, take all neccessary precautions, get a good insurance package and you won't have anything to worry about. And if a potential client refuses to sign a waiver take advantage of the CrossFit "@sshole barrier" and tell them they're better off somewhere else. You don't want argumentive people like that in your box anyways.

9

Monique Ames wrote …

The waiver may or may not help out in a lawsuit situation (varies from state), but it definitely won't hurt you and definitely helps you. The lawyers in my box agree that it may not completely cover me, but I had better have one. This article is not about avoiding a lawsuit, it's about having a good waiver in place for some peace of mind and for your insurance carrier.

Not having a waiver is unprofessional and you will be seen as such, should a lawsuit happen. Of course, having a waiver and not being diligent enough to follow through with someone who may have been injured in your facility (whether your fault or not), is not going to help you either.

Avoiding a lawsuit is multi-tiered. Start with a waiver. Use good training practices. Really know and care about your members (previous injuries for example). If someone becomes injured (prospect, drop-in, member, whoever), better be sure to check up on them regularly and if you can, assist in any rehab (only if you are qualified). Taking the time to care about people will go a long way to avoiding a lawsuit.

Can someone still sue you. Of course. We live in a world in which people sue cigarette companies for lung cancer, McD's for obesity AND hot coffee!! Do whatever you can to better protect yourself and the business which is your livelihood.

10

Erik Larson wrote …

Amen Monique! Lets face it folks, there are a LOT of people in the world acting like Idiots. CrossFit is a remarkable protocol and asks people to show up and give 100%, whatever that means to them. CrossFit seems to attract people who truly want to get better at life. That doesn't mean that everyone truly gets it and I think from a practical point of view and a good business practice, having a waiver, good insurance and a constant strive toward excellence and getting better as a coach/trainer is what is going to make a box successful... Thank you for writing this piece and providing your waiver. Peace, Erik

11

wrote …

I agree with James - anyone coming to the site is primarily interested in information on fitness, not business, and combining the two may result in an awkward mix.

12

wrote …

First off, thank you Monique. I have been training people from my mobile gym and was looking for a good waiver now that I have become an LLC. You really helped me out with putting one together. I think a waiver is not only important for peace of mind and insurance reasons, but it does make you look professional. Its just like if you were to charge $5 a class. You may not get clients for the simple reason that you are not charging enough and it seems as though your services may be lacking in expertise. If you are a certified Crossfit trainer, like myself, it is important that you stay, look, act and teach professionally. This goes for how much you charge to the relationships we build with our clients. Crossfit is a way of life, its not just 21-15-9 and go home. I for one eat, sleep and breath the methodology and preach it my clients.

I have to respectfully disagree with everything Jordan said. Not only is a waiver beneficial to you, your company and your insurance provider, but, today I logged into the journal and searched "waiver." The Crossfit journal is my one stop for anything regarding the spread of fitness worldwide, and yes, that includes the business side of things.

13

wrote …

Am I the only one who finds the timing of this article in poor taste?

14

wrote …

@ Stoyanov

"anyone coming to the site is primarily interested in information on fitness, not business, and combining the two may result in an awkward mix."


Speak for yourself please. At last count I believe there are approximately 1700 CF affiliates worldwide, that means 1700 affiliate owners aka "businessmen/woman", and I'm sure it's safe to say that at least 95% of them have a subscripton to this journal. As a new affiliate owner I appreciate all the helpful advice and tips.

I hate handing out waivers and wish I didn't have to, but I can't take the chance this day and age. I am attempting to make a living here, a lawsuit would end that plan in a hurry.

15

wrote …

Dean, the timing of this article was unfortunate but in no way tied to recent events as CFJ articles are planned several weeks in advance. HQ has expressed deepest condolences to those impacted by our recent loss to the community.

16

wrote …

Thanks for the clarification Eric.

17

wrote …

Excuse my ignorance, but why is the timing of the article in poor taste?

18

wrote …

A CrossFitter by the name of Dede Whitwood died on the same day the after she passed out during a WOD. It seemed to be bad timing for this article to hit.

That said I do realize sad as it is; these types of things can happen anywhere and at any time.

19

wrote …

I saw the Hot Coffee remark and had to say watch

hot coffee the movie. A Doc about the woman who was burned. how that case changed the way companies do business. And how mislead we all were about what happened.

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