In a recent interview, legal consultant Rachel Brenke emphasized the importance of contracts in the fitness industry. “Everybody needs a contract,” she stated, highlighting that this is particularly true for those in the health and wellness industry.
The Fitness Industry: A Growing Field with Growing Legal Needs
Brenke noted that the fitness industry is currently on an upswing, similar to the growth seen in the photography and creative industries a decade ago. With this growth comes an increased need for legal protections. “Because of the amount of people we’re seeing coming in in the fitness industry, I think we’re starting to see a lot more problems and there’s a lot more of a need for making sure you have the right legal protections in place,” she said.
Contracts: Not Just for Legal Protection
While contracts provide legal protection, they also serve other important functions:
- Setting Expectations: Contracts outline what both the client and the fitness professional can expect from each other, reducing the potential for miscommunication.
- Establishing Boundaries: Contracts can help fitness professionals maintain their policies without feeling like they’re constantly saying “no” to their clients. Brenke explained, “Contracts can come into play to be the ‘No’ man for you. For you to be able to say, ‘Per the contract, we agreed to X, Y, and Z, and that’s what we’re gonna fulfill.'”
- Protecting Both Parties: Contracts protect both the fitness professional and the client. They outline the terms of the business relationship, ensuring that both parties understand what is expected of them.
Key Elements of a Fitness Professional’s Contract
Brenke highlighted several key elements that should be included in a fitness professional’s contract:
- Payment Schedules: The contract should clearly outline when and how payments will be made.
- Completion Schedule: The contract should specify when and how the fitness professional will deliver their services.
- Late Fees and Consequences for Non-Payment: The contract should specify what happens if a payment is late or missed.
- Legal Miscellaneous Section: This section, typically found at the end of the contract, should include information about attorneys’ fees, governing law, and resolution methods.
Common Mistakes in Fitness Contracts
Brenke also pointed out some common mistakes that fitness professionals make when it comes to contracts:
- Not Having a Contract: The biggest mistake is simply not having a contract at all. Without a contract, you have no legal protection.
- Signing the Contract in Your Name, Not Your LLC’s Name: If you sign a contract in your name instead of your LLC’s name, you could be personally liable if something goes wrong. Always sign contracts as a representative of your LLC.
Free Contract Templates vs. Paid Contract Templates
When it comes to sourcing contracts, fitness professionals have several options. They can draft their own, use a free template, buy a paid template, or hire a lawyer to create a custom contract. Each option has its pros and cons.
Free templates are readily available online and can be a good starting point. However, their quality can vary greatly, and they may not cover all the necessary legal aspects. Paid templates, on the other hand, are typically more comprehensive and professionally designed. However, both free and paid templates should be reviewed by a lawyer to ensure they comply with local laws and regulations.
Where to Find Contract Templates
Here are several websites that offer free contract templates!
- Signaturely: Offers free contract agreement templates in Word or PDF.
- Jotform: Provides over 100 free contract templates, including a construction contract template and a month-to-month rental agreement template.
- Smallpdf: Provides easy-to-edit contract and agreement templates for leases, real estate, and rentals.
- Proposable: Offers free business contract template downloads and contract templates for Google Docs, including industry-specific samples like event planner contracts and freelance contracts.
- ApproveMe: Has over 100 contract templates and agreements for various businesses, including creatives, freelancers, photographers, and agencies.
- Template.net: Offers free contract templates that you can edit or customize with fillable spaces for writing offer and acceptance, consideration, mutuality, legality, capacity, intention, and signature.
- Hloom: Provides 32 contract templates in Microsoft Word that are ready for use and can be edited to suit your situation.
- Microsoft Support: Offers free, pre-built document templates that can be used for contracts among other things.
- eForms: Provides a guide on creating a service contract, including free service contract templates in PDF and Word formats.
- TheGoodocs: Offers free contract templates for Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides, including a lease contract template.
- HoneyBook: Offers free contract templates for small businesses, including smart fields and electronic signatures1.
- Square: Allows you to create and customize contracts directly from your Square Dashboard.
- PrintableContracts: Provides a range of contract templates for home and business arrangements, including home maintenance services, modeling and photography contracts, rental contracts, and more.
- PandaDoc: Provides over 100 free agreement templates, including a Share Purchase Agreement Template and a Land Lease Agreement Template.
The Role of a Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer to draft a contract can be more expensive, but it offers the advantage of having a contract tailored to your specific needs and compliant with local laws. Brenke suggests that having a template can save time and money when consulting with a lawyer. Instead of spending hours discussing every detail, the lawyer can review and amend the template as needed.
Finding a lawyer who understands the nuances of the fitness industry is also crucial. They can provide insights into industry-specific issues and ensure that the contract covers all bases. For instance, they can advise on intellectual property rights when using branded workout routines or proprietary training methods.
Contracts are an essential part of running a successful fitness business. They protect both the professional and the client, ensuring a clear understanding of the services to be provided and the terms of payment. Whether you choose to use a free template, a paid template, or hire a lawyer, it’s crucial to have the contract reviewed to ensure it complies with local laws and regulations.