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Operate as a fitness provider

As a fitness supplier, you must obey a code of practice.

You can not:

  • make false or misleading claims or communications
  • engage in unconscionable conduct
  • give out client details.

You must:

  • tell customers certain things (disclosure)
  • have certain signage
  • have a complaint handling process.

Don’t forget, you also need to obey the Australian Consumer Law.

False or misleading claims

You and your employees must not make false or misleading claims, including in your advertising.

It’s illegal to intentionally make false or misleading claims.

False endorsement claims

You must not falsely claim:

  • to be members of industry groups (such as Fitness Queensland)
  • that any organisation or person endorses your services.

Unrealistic promises

Your promotional material must:

  • be truthful, accurate and unambiguous
  • not encourage unrealistic expectations (such as losing 25kg in 3 weeks).

You must be honest if you compare your services with those of other businesses.

Discounts or offers

Any discounts or offers must be genuine. For example, you cannot offer a free gift to take part in a service and then raise the price to cover the cost of the gift.

‘Unconscionable’ conduct

You (or your employees) cannot get a client to sign a membership agreement by:

  • using high-pressure tactics
  • harassing them
  • doing any other unconscionable act.

Harassment can include:

  • using threatening or intimidating language
  • acting in a threatening or intimidating way
  • asking someone else to threaten or intimidate the client
  • making the client feel like they must obey your requests or demands.

Unconscionable conduct can include:

  • taking unfair advantage of a superior bargaining position
  • forcing the customer to comply with unnecessary or unreasonable conditions
  • taking unfair advantage of anything the customer doesn’t understand
  • putting undue pressure on the customer.

Confidentiality

You must respect your clients’ private information. You cannot:

  • use any client information that is given to you
  • disclose or sell client information to a third party
  • let your employees use client information (except for legitimate work reasons).

This does not apply to information that:

  • your client said you could use or disclose (this must be in writing)
  • you are legally allowed to use or disclose
  • you must disclose by law (usually to police or other authorities).

This applies to current or former clients.

Disclosure

You must tell your client’s enough about your services to help them make an informed decision.

Facilities and rules

Before you sign up a client, you must:

  • allow them to inspect the fitness centre
  • give them a copy of
    • the membership agreement
    • the fitness centre rules
    • any other information to help them make an informed decision.

You must make the rules available to your clients at all times. If you change the rules, you must prominently display the new rules for two months.

Code of Practice

You must make the Code of Practice available for your clients to read. If your clients ask, you must tell them where they can get their own copy.

Signage

Each of your centres must have a warning sign clearly visible when clients enter the gym.

It will need to say that clients must:

  • tell you in writing about any health issues that might affect their participation
  • figure out their own fitness, ability and health risks (if they’re a casual client).

There are set rules about the warning sign in the Code of Practice (see section 9).

Complaints

You must make a complaint handling procedure available to clients. You must make every reasonable effort to resolve problems quickly and fairly.

The complaint handling procedure must:

  • be simple and easy to use
  • comply with the Australian Standard.

Australian Standard

The Australian Standard for complaint handling is AS ISO 10002-2006 - Customer satisfaction - Guidelines for complaints handling in organisations.

To buy a copy of the standard, contact Standards Australia.