What Are Fitness Waiver and Release Forms?

A fitness waiver and release form is a document stating that an individual is of sufficient health to exercise, use a fitness center or gym, or participate in a physical activity such as a fitness program or exercise class. The form also states that the individual releases the gym from any liability for injury, damage or death resulting from the use of the facility or its equipment, or from participation in a program.

Many gyms and fitness centers require new members to submit this form along with the signature of a licensed physician. The waiver and release form is a common risk management tool that attempts to shift liability for injuries to the individual who, by participating in an activity, assumes the risk of injury. Insurance companies often require such forms as a condition of granting coverage or a preferential rate. The intent of the form is to shield the facility from liability for claims such as those arising from an individual who suffers a heart attack while exercising or sustains injuries while using the facility or equipment.

Obtaining a waiver and release form does not absolve the gym from all liability. An individual may still sue the facility for injuries resulting from the failure of the facility to maintain the premises and equipment in working order, or the failure to act properly when an injury occurs. Courts generally do not permit a party to escape the consequences of its own negligence, especially when the parties are of unequal bargaining power or the negligent party's actions are particularly egregious.