Gym Member Suffers Significant Injury During Personal Training Session


Personal Training Expert WitnessThis case involves a man who had recently signed up for a new gym, and was given a complimentary fitness exam. During the exam, the personal trainer instructed the plaintiff to lift a large weight in a compound motion. The plaintiff lifted the weight as instructed, at which time he felt something in his back give way, resulting in excruciating pain. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries necessitating surgery, and continues to suffer from pain and limited mobility on a daily basis.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please describe your experience as a personal trainer and/or managing a gym.
  • 2. What are the proper protocols that should be followed for first-time personal training?

Expert Witness Response E-149200

I am currently the Fitness Supervisor and Clinical Coordinator at a wellness center, and I have 6.5 years of experience in personal training, as well as 2 years of experience directly managing personal trainers. The proper protocols that should be followed for first-time personal training are getting an initial health history, informed consent and release of liability, additional comprehensive health history, and basic testing as appropriate to establish baseline capabilities. I have seen an incident similar to this, one of my staff recently had a client who complained of low back issues during the initial consult. The staff member subsequently had the client perform a crunch exercise during the course of personal training, which is generally contraindicated for the issue described due to the repetitive flexion/extension of the spine. I counseled my staff member on appropriate exercise protocols for chronic conditions, such as low back pain. I have personally never used this exercise as part of a “complimentary fitness exam”, and it’s certainly not a required or necessary tool to get a standard set of information about the client. I would also say it is not a typical tool to be used in this context. It is generally inadvisable to start with a weight described as very heavy for obvious reasons.

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