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Building Your Fitness Empire

As much as Q1 is tax season, it’s also the time when we all try to jump back into fitness.  Finding the right fit that will get results and keep you motivated are key.  (We promise you – we’ll get to the legal analysis soon.)  But there are so many choices:  the gym, personal trainers, fitness influencers,  fitness apps, etc.  The fitness industry is rife with opportunity and, as always, Froese Law can’t help but to look at the legal underpinnings – this time as it relates to the fitness industry.  Of course, each fitness professionals’ career path varies but here’s a quick reference guide of some of the legal issues that every fitness professional should consider as they build their fitness empire.

1. Be Legitimate
If you expect to become a leader in your field, do the necessary work.  Get the recommended certifications and professional designations.  In today’s social media world, smoke and mirrors is an unfortunate reality.  Set yourself apart. 

2. Structure Your Business
At Froese Law, we love helping entrepreneurs…but there’s a distinction between having a side hustle that has traction and a hobby.  We view our entrepreneur clients as empires in the making.  Incorporating your business is a wise and prudent first step to building that empire.  Not only will it protect your own personal assets from risk, there may also be tax benefits to take advantage of.  In addition, if you are bringing on partners, it is a very good idea to enter into a Shareholders’ Agreement.   

3. Protect Your Brand
In consumer facing industries, brand is key.  In fact, arguably, it is the most important corporate asset.  The fitness professional may have his/her own brand and the type of work out may have a brand.  Brand strategy and protection is key.  Trademarks and copyright laws will become a critical tool in protecting the brand.  

4. Negotiate your Commercial Agreements
Much like raising a child, it takes a village to build an empire.  That means that a number of different third parties will be involved in various different aspects of building your empire.  Here’s just a sample of some of the players: investor, web developer, photographer, social media strategist, agent, app developer, sponsors, brands using your platform for influencer marketing, etc.  As your business grows, the opportunities should also grow in a multitude of ways that increases the profitability of your business. 

Negotiating and entering into written commercial agreements that apply to the business nuances of the third party relationship is critical.  Examples of the types of agreements include non-disclosure agreement, independent contractor agreement, sponsorship agreement, shareholders agreement, influencer agreement, agency agreement etc.     

Important considerations should be given to term, termination, performance milestones, confidentiality, indemnification, representations and warranties, etc. 

5. Curate and License Your Content
Content is king and there are a number of ways to monetize the content.  This is done through licensing.  For example, creating a signature style of working out, branding that style and then licensing it to already established brands can be very lucrative (think: “Zumba”.  Creating a personal brand that translates into a lifestyle brand creates the ability to merchandise the brand beyond fitness (i.e. fitness clothes, supplements, water bottles, fitness equipment).    

Bottom line: think big and diversify the reach of the brand to generate multiple revenue streams.  

6. Establish Permanency 
Ultimately, a successful empire has to have a home: a place where consumers go to engage with your empire.  In today’s digital world, there are so many permutations: a downloadable app., a brick and mortar fitness studio, a multi-faceted online profile.  Depending on the permutation, there will be a number of legal considerations.   

Building Your Fitness Empire