Protecting Your Health & Fitness Business from Legal Violations
Illinois has many laws that affect small businesses, one of which is the Illinois Physical Fitness Service Act. This law involves many small businesses, including fitness centers, martial arts studios, and more. Among other things, this statute sets forth requirements for contracts between fitness providers and their customers. Violations of the Act can result in triple damages.
Below we review the basics of the Illinois Physical Fitness Services Act, how it can impact your business, and how you can protect your business against liabilities.
The Illinois Physical Fitness Services Act
The Illinois Physical Fitness Services Act (815 ILCS 645) applies to any individual or business entity that offers physical fitness services to the public. This covers a wide range of health and fitness-oriented businesses. As you can see from the list below, everyone from large fitness clubs (like L.A. Fitness) to independent personal trainers and small yoga studios can be affected by the regulations outlined in this statute.
According to the statute, this includes “instruction, training or assistance” with any of the following:
- Weight reduction
- Figure development
- Self-defense training
The only businesses and centers that are exempted from the provisions of this statute are those that are government-run and/or not-for-profit.
A major part of the Act is the outlining of fitness services contract requirements. This can include contracts for membership to clubs and centers, as well as any other type of contract for fitness-related services, such as private personal training or fitness coaching. It is crucial that businesses offering fitness services be in compliance with all contract requirements and other provisions found within the Act.
Some of the outlined contract requirements include the following:
- Written contract
- Disclosure of costs
- Cancellation and refund clause
- Planned center provisions
In addition to general provisions and CPR-certified staff requirements, the Act includes an itemization and explanation of prohibited contractor provisions and prohibited acts.
Protecting Against Liability
Should a business be found noncompliant with the Act, a customer or the Attorney General may bring a lawsuit against them. If it is determined that the business is guilty of the violation, and the customer/s was harmed as a result, a judgment may be awarded for “three times the amount at which the actual damages are assessed, plus costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.” Even if the business is found to have not violated the Act, the cost of sorting the matter out in court can be substantial.
A business can help protect against liability by including various clauses in its customer contracts, thereby expressly ensuring that its contracts are compliant with the Act. The customer contract can also protect against liability through specific clauses regarding waivers and releases.
It is highly recommended that any business offering fitness services work with an experienced attorney to develop and review all customer contracts.
Get Help Developing Strong Customer Contracts
Markoff Leinberger can help protect your business. From reviewing your existing customer agreements to ensure they comply with the Act to helping you draft new customer agreements and contracts, our legal team has the skill, experience, and resources to help you and your business.
The average cost of this type of legal review can range from under $2,000 to approximately $5,000, depending on the complexity of your company’s circumstances. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The liability and expense associated with an Act violation are significant and can threaten your business.
Please get in touch with Markoff Leinberger to find out how we can help your business be better protected. Our firm can be reached online or by dialing our office at (312) 625-1679.