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Personal training can be a profitable business. It is also satisfying — you will soon be helping clients to reach their full potential. However, before starting your business, you should consider a few legal issues. Otherwise, you may run into problems or even get shut down soon after you start. This article explains four essential legal issues to consider before starting a personal training business.

Decide on the Right Business Structure

The first step in starting a personal training business is to choose your business structure. Keep in mind that your choice is not permanent. As your client base changes or grows, you can always restructure to suit your new needs.

The most common business structure for a personal trainer is to operate as a sole trader. However, some use a company. Both options have their benefits. In general, a sole trader has minimal setup costs while a company protects your personal assets, like a mortgage, from being claimed by creditors to pay business debts.


Sole Trader Company
Setup Straightforward to set up and has minimal costs Additional setup and has ongoing maintenance costs
Income Business income counts toward your personal income The business income belongs to the company
Liability You have personal liability for all business debts Limited liability means you are not personally liable for business debts in most circumstances
Taxation Taxed at personal income tax rate Taxed at company rate


Acquire Regulations and Licences

As a personal trainer in Australia, you will need to obtain a nationally recognised personal training qualification. At a minimum, you must have a Certificate III in Fitness. This will allow you to become a gym instructor and run organised classes. However, if you want to provide personal training to individual clients, you will need a Certificate IV in Fitness.

In addition, you may need other licences. For example, if you are training people under the age of 18, you will need to apply for clearance to work with children. If you will be training in a public place such as a park, you generally need to apply to the local council for approval to use their land for a business purpose. Consult the Australian Business Licence and Information Service to see the licences you will need.

Finally, if you intend to train using workouts with a registered trade mark (e.g. CrossFit or Zumba) you need to have the appropriate qualifications. You will often need to be certified by the organisation that owns the trade mark to be able to teach their workout.

Draft a Client Agreement

As a personal trainer, it is important to have a clear client agreement that your clients must accept before they train with you. The client agreement should detail what services you will provide, what the client is required to do and have clauses to limit your overall liability.

You should not simply use a generic client agreement downloaded online. A client agreement for a personal training business needs two important disclaimers.

First, your client agreement should include a disclaimer about your clients’ results. Your clients must be clear that you will not be responsible for their outcomes. Otherwise, you could be at risk for misleading them about what you are offering, even if they do not put in the necessary work.

Secondly, you need to include a disclaimer that says you are not responsible for any injuries your clients sustain. Any fitness training program entails an inherent risk of injury, and it is the client’s responsibility to ensure that they receive medical clearance to train.

Protect Your Advertising

Once you have the client agreement ready, you will need to advertise for clients. The first step in doing so is to register a business name and purchase a domain name. You will need to register a separate business name if you are not using your exact personal name or company name.

When choosing a business name, you should search the Trade Mark Register to ensure that no one has previously registered that name as a trade mark. Otherwise, you could find yourself being ordered to change your business name after taking the expensive steps of designing a website and preparing advertising materials.

You will also want to consider registering a trade mark with IP Australia for your business name. This will give you the exclusive right to use your chosen name and allow you to stop other personal trainers from using it.

Key Takeaways

When starting a personal training business, you need to be aware of many different legal issues. Four of the most important are:

  1. deciding on the right business structure;
  2. acquiring the necessary licences;
  3. drafting a client agreement with appropriate disclaimers; and
  4. protecting your advertising.

If you need specific legal advice on starting a personal training business or drafting client agreements, call LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.


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