April 3 2019 10:55 AM

Protecting your online business

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    There are a lot of things to consider when becoming a fitness trainer. Where to train, what to teach, when to teach, how to promote a brand and build a loyal customer base... these are all important questions that need answers. Equally important (and yet, occasionally overlooked) is the insurance coverage you purchase. Specifically, ensuring you are covered given where, what, when, and how you ultimately decide to train and inspire others.

    A prominent factor affecting how and where trainers conduct business is the fact that we now live in a digital age. Although hands-on, in-person training is (and will continue to be) the most reliable way to deliver consistent feedback and application of proper movement; the fitness industry is not impervious to this new digital paradigm.

    More and more, trainers are recognizing the necessity of building and refining their digital presence in order to market and deliver their services. Social media is an important platform that enables fitness professionals to advertise their expertise and showcase their results. Additionally, trainers can now record and demonstrate a workout circuit instantaneously through social media. What was once an onerous, multi-step process now takes only minutes; whether it is through a live stream on Facebook or an Instagram story, the process is as seamless as ever.

    More and more, there is a demand in the marketplace for these on-demand, online services. People are busy and often cannot allocate time to get to the gym. The millennial demographic (who are more inclined to use social media) often cannot afford the rising costs of gym and studio memberships, especially when these costs are laid against a backdrop of increasing student loan and rent costs. What is more, consumers in the digital age have a skewed perception of what should and should not cost money. Content generally is as accessible as ever, and most don’t see the sense in paying for something they feel like they can get for free on YouTube.

    Despite these factors that are collectively affecting demand, aspiring workout enthusiasts still desire a fitness routine that is designed by a knowledgeable professional, tailor-made to the individual based on goals and current abilities. Perhaps more importantly, they recognize the extra motivation and accountability a trainer can provide. The solution for many is to workout at home but with the help, support, and guidance of a trainer who is delivering their fitness instruction online.

    Still, a robust online presence carries with it some unknowns for the fitness trainer. Namely, will my insurance policy cover me if my online services lead to a lawsuit?

    Trainer insurance coverage is important to begin with for a myriad of reasons. One obvious reason is a goal of prudent risk management, generally, to preserve continuity of business operations despite a sudden and accidental loss. Or, put simply, the ability for a trainer to continue doing what they love despite the fact that something, whether it be a loss of property or someone getting injured, has gone wrong.

    Even more importantly, however, is the fact that fitness professionals are typically training as an individual and have not set up a separate legal entity for the business. As such, personal assets (bank accounts, cars, houses, etc.) can become exposed if someone were to file a lawsuit for damages arising out of the operations of the individual trainer.

    For these reasons, it is vital for trainers who deliver services online to be sure their insurance policy does not exclude training advice or instruction delivered digitally. If, for example, someone was to get injured while working out at home, because of a fitness program or exercise routine designed and delivered digitally, they could file a lawsuit alleging negligence. In another example, someone may file a lawsuit alleging infringement upon copyrighted or trademarked content during an online advertisement.

    Both of these scenarios can easily be covered by adequate insurance. However, some insurance companies may exclude coverage by limiting coverage only to specified premises, excluding advertising claims, or simply by excluding claims arising out of online services outright.

    Adequate insurance coverage will not only encompass online training services, it will provide coverage for in-person services as well. For the latter, not having the proper coverage can act as an impediment to conducting business, as most gyms and health clubs require trainers to furnish a certificate of insurance, evidencing adequate coverage was purchased with an acceptable insurance carrier.

    In summary, the world is changing and the fitness industry is changing right along with it. It is important for trainers to be nimble in how they deliver their products and services, and in some instances this means going digital. Good insurance coverage should empower trainers and provide them with not only peace of mind, but with the requisite flexibility needed to teach and inspire others to be the best they can be. For these reasons, it is important to review your policy carefully and only purchase insurance coverage from a longstanding, experienced, and trusted insurance partner.

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