If you’re a personal trainer, a yoga instructor, running a gym or helping people in other ways through the fitness business, you need to know about the Fitness Code.
It’s also known as the Fair Trading (Fitness Industry Code of Practice) Regulations 2020 (WA), in effect from 1 July 2021.
The Fitness Code is a legal guideline that has been developed to make sure there are appropriate standards of service, to encourage consumer confidence, and to support and promote the fitness industry. Here are some of the key things to know about the changes.
You need a membership agreement summary
If your fitness business offers memberships, you need to make sure your membership agreements meet the requirements outlined in the new Fitness Code. It’s more important than ever to be clear on what you’re offering to your clients - and what it will cost them to use your services.
Every client membership needs to include a membership summary which meets the requirements of the code, including elements such as:
- A description of fitness services your business will provide
- All the fees and charges involved, which services these fees apply to and when these need to be paid
- The term of the agreement - whether it is a fixed or ongoing agreement and start and end dates involved
- A very clear explanation of any exclusions, limits or restrictions which apply to the membership
As part of the Fitness Code, you also need to let your clients know they have a 7-day cooling off period where they can decide to cancel their membership.
Your membership documents need to be easy to understand
To help clarify what’s expected under the Fitness Code, Consumer Protection has outlined exactly what should be included in your membership contracts. As an example, you’ll need to include details of all of the dates, timing, costs, services and cancellation policies involved. You can also include details such as how clients can suspend a membership if they fall sick or go away for an extended holiday - but these details need to meet the requirements of the code.
The Fitness Code is very clear about how to approach cancellations from clients, including their right to terminate and your legal obligations.
Your client's rights:
- Your client may terminate a membership agreement with you at any time by giving you notice in writing.
- If you receive the notice during the client’s cooling off period, the membership is terminated on the day you receive written notice.
- Otherwise, the membership is terminated on the day specified in your membership agreement (a maximum of 30 days after receiving written notice).
Your obligations as a fitness provider:
- Treat written notice of cancellation from your client as a notice of termination of any third party agreement (such as payment processing).
- Immediately instruct the third party to cease deductions under the third party agreement, once you receive the last payment due under the agreement.
Clear communication is essential
Everything in your membership agreements needs to be written in plain English, avoiding any complicated or confusing language. In any business, it’s important that you don’t mislead or give false information to your clients. To meet the requirements of the Fitness Code, it’s very important to be honest and transparent with your fees, advertising and any association with a professional organisation.
Security and privacy
Keeping your clients’ details and personal information safe is a must. This includes keeping their membership, financial and contact details secure - and not sharing or discussing any personal information about how, why and when they use your services, except with them.
Looking after your clients and communicating in a clear, honest and transparent way is not just a good idea to meet your legal obligations under the Fitness Code - it’s good for your clients, your reputation and your business as a whole.
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