Personal training contracts are among some of the more important aspects getting a personal training business up and running successfully and sustainably. The problem is this; the personal trainer and client relationship is one that typically evolves into a friendship. Which is good, however, it’s important to remember it’s also a business relationship as well.
It’s often difficult to maintain the balance between a business relationship while also maintaining a sprouting friendship.
So, Why Are Personal Training Contracts Important?
As mentioned above, a lot of trainers find it difficult to implement a trainer-client contract. This is primarily due to how intimate personal training services are. As you may have seen us mention in past blog articles, there are always two things that remain true:
- Clients often make changes in other areas of their lifestyle beyond just fitness. Often times the changes that are made permeate into daily their mindset and overall wellness.
- Personal Trainers rarely are ever just “fitness coaches”. Often times personal trainers facilitate behavioral changes. As a result, they find themselves in the position of a part-time therapist, part-time life coach, and full-time fitness coach.
However, when considering the above, this should provide more incentive to put a contract in place. Contracts are important because they help maintain the business relationship and protect trainers financially.
The Legal Purpose of a Contract
Contracts are legal documents between two or more parties that outline the terms of service of products/services being supplied.
Often times, contracts outline obligations between the parties involved in terms of roles. Primary roles often take the form of the customer and the vendor.
From the Vendors standpoint, the contract outlines obligations to the vendor in regards to the products or services they will be supplying and their required payment terms for the subsequent delivery of services.
From the customers standpoint, the contract outlines their financial obligations for the services/products they will be receiving and their requirements of the vendor.
Breach of Contract
Breach of contract simply means one of the parties involved did something outside of the agreement.
Contracts typically involve a “breach of contract clause”.
This is put in place to protect the needs and interests of all parties involved. The breach of contract clause will more likely have a couple stipulations within it.
Cancellation/Refund Policy from the Clients Point of View
A trainer could be considered in “breach of contract” if a client pays for sessions in advance but the trainer doesn’t deliver the sessions within a given time period. Often times, this doesn’t warrant any legal action yet.
Contracts often include cancellation/refund policies. In the example above, the trainer would be required to refund the sessions paid for in advance to the client. If the trainer neglects this even further, the client has the right to bring the contract to the local court system and file a lawsuit for the lost money.
The Trainers Point of View
Now lets look at another example of a cancellation/refund policy.
If a client books a session or sessions with a trainer, doesn’t show up, and fails to notify the trainer before hand, they are liable to be charged for the session due to the time wasted for the trainer.
Now lets say the trainer goes to charge the client for the missed session and the charge is declined. At that point the trainer has the right to seize all services from that point on until the clients account is restored to an acceptable balance.
If it goes further and the client still neglects to restore the account balance, trainers are faced with a couple choices based on the amount owed.
One consideration is to get a lawyer to send them a letter threatening legal action. Often times this does the trick. However, in some cases the letter ends up in a paper shredder. This leaves us with the next option which is going to court. You should one consider this option if:
- You think the client has the money to settle the debt.
- The value of what you are owed is greater then what you will pay in legal fees.
- There is no other option to try.
Either way, having a client-trainer contract in place is going to be crucial in court. The contract solidifies your case in court.
Without a contract to bring as proof, you are left with the responsibility of proving there was an agreement in place which can draw out how long the case takes and can cost a lot more money.
Avoid Guarantees in Your Contracts
We get it, guaranteeing results sounds better then “individual results may vary”, but placing any verbiage in your contract that suggests a guarantee of results is a disaster waiting to happen.
If you “guarantee” results and those results don’t happen, the client can and might demand a refund for your services. Your refusal could warrant a legal battle that would cost you a lot more then the refund they are asking for.
The other reason why this is important is because personal training is a two way streak. Sure the trainer puts in a lot of work but if the client wants to see results, they have to put in work too. Which we know doesn’t always happen.