Home Personal Training Do you need a personal trainer liability waiver?

Do you need a personal trainer liability waiver?

personal trainer liability waiver

The odds are that you’ve heard at least a few fellow personal trainers talking about a personal trainer waiver form. You probably can’t get away from the topic at this point, and you’re wondering, what exactly is this?

Be rest assured, it’s not just another fad in the fitness industry. The waiver form is actually essential for personal trainers; it can help you stay out of trouble and even raise your credibility with clients. But what exactly is it, and how can you use it? Read on to find out

What is a personal trainer liability waiver?

A personal trainer waiver is an agreement between a client and a personal trainer that pre-informs the client about the risks and dangers associated with training. Basically, it educates your clients about possible injuries they could sustain and prevents them from taking legal action against you if they get injured.

Now, this is by no means a cop-out; it doesn’t mean the PT gets to walk scot-free if a client gets injured on your watch. Instead, you can think of it as a way to protect yourself in case of unfortunate and unexpected accidents resulting from things outside your control.

To fully enjoy the benefits of this release form, you have to present the waiver to your client and have them sign it before you begin any kind of training.

Before we look into PT liability in greater detail, let’s examine the difference between a liability waiver and general liability insurance.

Personal Trainer Liability Vs General Liability Insurance

A personal training waiver is often mistaken for general liability insurance, and it’s understandable why. They both offer protection to the personal trainer, but in slightly different ways.

A trainer liability waiver is a protection form that highlights risks – spraining your ankle, dislocating joints, straining muscles – associated with exercise. It outlines possible injuries that the client may sustain and allows them to release the PT from any liability. 

The liability waiver is why a client can’t sue you for a sprain (or a more severe condition) when they use equipment with poor form.

On the other hand, general liability insurance provides financial protection for accidental damages that are not part of your training. For example, if the floor in your client’s home gets damaged during kettlebell swings, the general liability coverage will provide funds for repair.

We both know that clients can get injured in many ways during training. So, here’s another example of how the waiver/insurance covers you.

Say your client doesn’t tell you about a previous serious injury. Because you are unaware, you initiate an intense routine, and as a result, your client suffers a tear. If they decide to sue, you’ll be protected by the personal trainer waiver.

Here’s another example. Imagine that you’re showing your client how to use proper form using industry-standard techniques, and they interpret it as sexual harassment. You’ll be protected by the personal training waiver because you’re simply doing your job using standard practices.

These examples go on and on, but the more you niche down and specialize, the more you need to worry about this because you’ll most likely be working with clients who have a greater need. For example, you’ll definitely need a liability waiver when training older clients.

The benefits of personal trainer liability waivers

liability form for personal trainers

1. No fear of legal action

The biggest payoff for getting a personal trainer waiver is freedom from legal actions. Lawsuits are no joke, and anyone of them could ruin your career. But with a personal trainer waiver, you’re protected from legal action related to unfounded claims of injury or even sexual harassment while doing your job.  

2. Protected reputation

Lawsuits are often targeted at large companies because they will invariably settle out of court to protect their reputation. As a PT who’s trying to build a successful brand, you could also be vulnerable to these schemes. But thankfully, you can rely on the liability waiver to protect you.

3. Client safety

Once a client provides accurate and truthful information about their health conditions when filling out the personal trainer waiver form, you can recommend routines that will help them achieve their goals without putting them in harm’s way. The client can also rest assured knowing that their interests are protected and that they can achieve a desirable outcome.

What doesn’t the waiver protect you from?

The personal trainer liability waiver isn’t magic, and it doesn’t automatically protect you from everything. Here are some scenarios where client injury will still lead to liability on your part.

  • An injury worsens because you didn’t administer first aid quickly enough, or worse, you don’t have a first-aid kit in your PT starter pack
  • You are training clients with an expired personal trainer certificate
  • The client sustains injury due to your negligence or lack of the training
  • You advise your client to take questionable supplements or use damaged equipment
  • You are aware of the client’s health condition, but you pushed them anyway.

What should you include in your trainer liability form?

personal trainer liability waiver

The effectiveness of the personal training liability waiver goes out the window if you can’t craft it properly. You must include the proper details and language, and communicate it properly to your clients. Here are some of the things that should be in a solid personal training waiver:

Exercise risks

You should spell out the risks associated with physical exercises. It’s also a good idea to include specific risks associated with some exercises, especially if your clients have underlying illnesses.

Client’s medical history

The perfect personal training liability form must contain the client’s medical history. Ask questions about previous injuries, medical conditions, and even family history to get a clear picture. Besides providing a detailed liability waiver, it will also help you design an effective training routine.

Form implications

The personal trainer waiver should also explicitly state what the client is signing up for. They need to understand that signing the form means they can’t press charges in the event of an injury. Some clients will be reluctant at this point, so it’s critical to add an exclusion.


Your personal trainer waiver should also contain an exclusion that states you’ll be liable for any injuries sustained by the client due to your negligence. If you get distracted while the client is doing a bench press set and they fail a rep and get injured by the bar, you are liable.

Client freedom

The waiver must also indicate that your client is free to halt the exercise whenever they feel uncomfortable or unwilling to proceed. Participation is 100% voluntary.

How to maximize your training consent form

  • Ensure you explain the risks of physical exercises to your clients.
  • Ensure clients sign before you begin training them
  • Inform clients that they don’t have to sign if they don’t want to, but that means you can’t train them
  • Perform a fitness assessment test before you create a program for your clients.
  • Create a healthy relationship and atmosphere of communication with your clients so they can bring up concerns easily.
  • Ensure your insurance policy is updated
  • Having your certificate of professional liability insurance is handy so you can show curious clients and gain their trust.

Bottom Line

The good news is that you don’t need to hire a lawyer to write your waiver. There are tons of templates online like this one that can help. Combined with the information you read in this guide, you’ll be fully equipped to draft an effective trainer liability waiver and stay protected from lawsuits.

If you want to become an even better workout pro, check out this article on the best way to keep your training clients motivated.

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