Fitness centers are popular destinations for those looking to get in shape, and the owners and operators of these facilities are passionate about helping their members better their health. However, to best serve their members, owners of fitness centers need to address the unique risks associated with their business.

The condition of your gym, trainers you hire, the types of equipment you provide, and the fitness classes and services available to your members can all contribute to your exposures. What’s more, potential losses for your business extend well beyond broken exercise equipment or injury concerns, and can even include damaging professional liability claims. The list below provides an overview of these fitness center risks and more—helping you identify potential blind spots in your risk management and insurance programs.


1. Fitness Equipment

Property exposures exist for fitness centers due to the amount of equipment needed and the hazards associated with them. What’s more, should a fire or other incident occur, multiple aspects of your facility can be affected (e.g., workout areas, offices and locker rooms). Complicating risks, expensive exercise equipment can break if it’s misused, leading to costly repairs and a poor member experience.

In the face of an equipment breakdown, fitness centers can experience business interruptions or even prolonged closures. Specifically, a business’s workout equipment, computers, electronic equipment, and mechanical, electrical and HVAC systems all have the potential to break down, causing major disruptions that can impact your reputation and bottom line.


2. Trainers & Staff

While most trainers you hire may be exemplary employees, they can be a source of serious professional liability. For example, a trainer could encourage a patron to exercise above their ability during a workout, causing serious physical or emotional trauma. In addition, because trainers work closely with their clients, the risk of sexual and other types of harassment increases in fitness facilities. In fact, any negligent act committed by your dietitians, trainers or physical therapists could lead to claims against your business.

Any time one of your employees is injured on the job, your business could be subjected to expensive workers’ compensation claims. Common sources of on-the-job accidents for fitness centers include slips, trips, falls, musculoskeletal injuries caused by repetitive tasks, sprains and strains. Normal, everyday tasks related to cleaning pool and locker-room areas, or leading fitness classes can lead to accidents and, in turn, increased costs for your business.

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3. Crime

Crime can be a challenge for fitness centers. Because locker rooms are designed for privacy, the likelihood of assault, vandalism or theft is high. In this day and age, thieves (including your employees) do not need direct access to cash to steal from you—sensitive information, facility tools and supplies are all fair game.


4. Accidents & Injuries

Because patrons of your facility are running, jumping and using heavy equipment in crowded workout areas, liability exposures are vast. While accidents related to slips, trips and falls are a source of concern for all businesses, fitness centers have to manage a plethora of other hazards. Improper use of exercise equipment and weights can cause broken bones, sprains and other types of injuries. What’s more, spas, pools, rock walls, workout classes and gym courts have their own set of injury risks you will need to address in order to keep patrons safe.


5. Cyber

As more and more fitness facilities move to online systems for enrollment and class scheduling, cyber exposures will continue to increase. Small businesses are often easier to hack, which means that your customers’ data—their names and addresses—could be a target for cybercriminals. In fact, fitness centers are a common target for cybercriminals, as these businesses often process a high volume of credit and debit card information from enrolling members. In addition, employees who are improperly trained on computer and data safety could leave your organization exposed to ransomware, viruses, phishing scams and malware.


Proper risk management practices can reduce certain exposures, but no system is 100% effective in ensuring an incident-free workplace. As a result, it’s all the more crucial to work with a trusted insurance professional to assess your unique exposures. For more information about Valent Group’s condominium association (COA) specialization, please visit our condo page or contact Kris Kahalley at (251) 404-9093.

This Risk Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. © 2019 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.