Health Club Legal Resources

To help you bolster your health club's performance, we’ve assembled a growing list of resources in this section—columns from experts, IHRSA Best Practices, a long list of publications available in the IHRSA Store and presentations from past IHRSA Conventions.

Industry Issues

Below are some of the many issues that affect health club operations. IHRSA provides information and resources on each of the below, and when needed, advocates for the best interest of health clubs.

Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Act

Federal law that requires companies to improve access and ensure equal opportunity for people with disabilities. Health clubs must be in compliance in two areas: employment and public accommodation.

Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

IHRSA fights to ensure bills that mandate AEDs in health clubs provide health club operators and staff with adequate liability protection for both use and non-use, and contain reasonable staffing requirements.


States require bonding to protect consumers from financial losses due to a club's closing or failure to open. However, bonds create a barrier to entry into the market for health clubs and rarely protect the consumer dollar for dollar.

Consumer Protection

There are several ways in which consumer protection laws affect health clubs: (1) automatic renewal; (2) bonding; (3) “cooling off” periods; and (4) price caps and membership contract restrictions.

Employment Law

Employment laws and regulations are constantly changing, and club operators need to be aware of their increasing legal responsibilities, such as overtime pay, illegal discrimination, or wrongful discharge.

Facility Certification

Legislatures have proposed laws that would allow state or local governments to enact regulations, establish licensing requirements, and administer club inspections.

Kids in Your Club

Clubs with camps, child care facilities, programming for children, and/or pools and spas are at risk for onerous regulations in numerous states that would affect who may be employed; or mandate the number of staff and amount of time staff must be present; and limit member access to the respective sections of the club.

Locker Room Privacy & Security

Camera phones, theft, children in opposite gender locker-rooms and transgender rights are all sensitive legal issues for club operators.


Several legislatures have passed laws that allow members of the military to suspend their club membership contracts if called into active duty.

Personal Trainer Regulation

Lawmakers often propose bills that would require personal trainers to be licensed (as opposed to independently certified) by the state in which they practice. They also impose stringent requirements for licensure, including expensive recurring exams and classes. Such policies make personal training more expensive for both club operators and members, and, ultimately, result in fewer trainers and a loss of revenue for clubs. See IHRSA's reccomendations for Personal Trainer Certifications.

Problem Members

IHRSA offers some tips on the best ways to handle problem members.

Single Gender Health Clubs

IHRSA believes that single-sex facilities should be allowed to operate, as there is a legitimate gender-based privacy interest entitled to protection under the law.

Tax on Dues

Sales tax impositions raise costs for members and create a disincentive to health club membership and, therefore, threaten club dues and services revenue.

Tax-Exempt Competition

IHRSA advocates for the equal tax-treatment of for-profit health clubs and their not-for-profit competition.

Waiver Liability

Several state legislatures have proposed bills that would severely restrict health clubs’ use of liability waivers, increasing clubs’ risk of being sued.

If you do not see what you are looking for on the above list or links, please contact


In Brief

In Brief is a monthly column found in Club Business International (CBI) that is dedicated to describing IHRSA’s latest advocacy efforts. Each edition contains useful information aimed at helping club operators effectively run their businesses by recognizing and opposing regulations that would hinder health club operations and identifying and advancing strategies that position health clubs as the primary solution for solving the inactivity crisis.

When Employees Sound Off on Social Media

Employees' use of social media has always posed complicated questions for health club owners. You'd hope that your staff would use social media judiciously, particularly with respect to comments about your club, but, sometimes, unfortunately, they don’t exercise their best judgment.


Legal Issue Best Practices

Best Practices feature answers from experts from both inside and outside the health club industry to thought-provoking questions on a wide range of topics.

Should You Have a Staff Cell Phone Policy?

Claud L. (Tex) McIver discusses instituting and deliberately and consistently enforcing a legally sound company policy is key to addressing this issue.


The IHRSA Store

We regularly conduct market research about the size and scope of the global health club industry, and we also survey consumer attitudes and perceptions about commercial health and sports clubs.