Legal Side of Being a Personal Trainer

Updated July 5, 2023
8 min read
Legal Side of Being a Personal Trainer


Being a personal trainer involves more than just helping clients achieve their fitness goals and lose some weight. This job entails understanding and navigating the legal aspects that follow literary every business.

In this guide, we'll explore various legal considerations that personal trainers in the U.S. should be aware of to ensure compliance and protect both themselves and their clients. From licenses and regulations to personal training fitness contracts and insurance, we'll cover all the essential legal aspects of being a personal trainer.

Licenses for Personal Trainers

Long before you find clients and sign personal training fitness contracts with them, you need to find out what your state requires of you as a fitness professional. You may need some license or certification to practice you may not even know about.

For instance, in California, personal trainers must obtain certification through a nationally recognized organization, such as ACE or NASM. Check out specific regulations your state demand from potential personal trainers. 

LLC and Business Entity Formation

Personal trainers often create a limited liability company (LLC) or another business entity to manage their financial affairs like real pros. That works like this: you form an LLC that gives you a layer of legal protection, and you separate your personal and business liabilities. Consider it a personal training fitness contract between you and the government. A win-win situation for you both. 

Before jumping into legalities, consult with lawyers who specialize in assisting small businesses to find the best business structure for your personal training business.

Data Protection for Personal Trainers

As soon as you get a client and sign up for a personal training fitness contract, you become a guardian of someone's personal information. What kind of sensitive information may personal trainers have access to:

  • Clients' medical histories;

  • Records of physical limitations;

  • Clients' progress reports;

  • Personal contact information.

So, with all this information in your hands, you should do two things:

  1. Create a personal training fitness contract where you ensure the client that all the sensitive data collected by you is safe and protected.

  2. Protect that data. You should implement security measures like using secure servers, encrypting data, and following best practices for data management.

Extra tip

Learn about General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in case you ever work with clients from the European Union.

Annual Reporting Requirements

Yes, another legality is waiting for you around the corner as we get closer to the personal training fitness contract. Depending on your business structure and location, you may be required to file annual reports with the state or local authorities. What kind of information do you need to share? Usually, your business's financial status and some ownership details.

For example, in California, a personal trainer who operates as a sole proprietorship or general partnership must file an annual information statement with the Secretary of State's office. If you don’t file the required annual report, you can get penalties or even lose the business's status as a legal entity.

Employment Legislation

If you have no free time slots but clients are queuing to sign up for a personal training fitness contract with you, it’s time to create a team of trainers under your brand. If you plan on hiring employees for your training business, check out relevant employment legislation and information about minimum wage requirements, workers' compensation, and anti-discrimination laws. 

It may be a whole new guide, but long story short: If you hire people, you need to keep your business inclusive, legit, and responsible. So, don’t discriminate against people, pay enough money to them, and comply with payroll and tax obligations.

Insurance for a Personal Trainer

Strained muscles and traumas are widespread among trainers, no questions asked. While your clients’ safety should be stated in a personal training fitness contract, it’s important to take care of yourself. 

Consider getting liability insurance specifically designed for fitness professionals or trainers — obviously the best option for you. Additionally, there are always options for business insurance to protect your equipment, premises, and other business assets. 

Personal Training Fitness Contract

Having a well-drafted personal training fitness contract is a must to set clear expectations and protect you and your clients. It cannot even be otherwise. Without such a contract, you and the client are not even considered to have a business relationship.

The personal training fitness contract should outline the scope of services, payment terms, cancellation policies, liability waivers, and confidentiality agreements between you and your client.

To get a look at the best personal training fitness contract practices and craft one for yourself, consider using a personal training contract template crafted by lawyers. The template already has all the clauses a personal trainer may need and can hint at the best decisions when drafting a personal training fitness contract.

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The training business — like every other business — depends on your awareness of legal regulations. So, if you really need to have successful and stress-free training with your clients, take care of all the licenses, regulations, contracts, insurance requirements, and personal training fitness contracts you need.

Article by
Inna Chumachenko

Inna Chumachenko is the Content Lead at Lawrina. She is responsible for managing all the content found on the blog, guides, and other website pages. Inna has a degree in philology and a vast interest in law. In her role at Lawrina, Inna oversees the content team, establishes collaborations with writers, and curates content from various contributors.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding the content for Lawrina, please feel free to contact Inna directly via email at or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all states require personal trainers to be licensed?

Licensing requirements vary from state to state. While some states have specific licensure or certification requirements, others may not. Research the regulations in your state to determine the necessary credentials.

Can I work as a personal trainer in public spaces without permits?

Not always. It's important to check with your local municipality or park district to determine if permits or permissions are required for conducting training sessions in public spaces. Adhering to these regulations ensures a safe and legal operation.

Should I hire an attorney to draft my personal training fitness contract?

If you don’t want to spend extra time and resources on hiring a lawyer, consider using a personal training fitness contract template done by a reliable provider

How often should I review and update my personal training fitness contract?

It's recommended to review and update your personal training fitness contract periodically or whenever significant changes to laws or regulations may impact your agreement.