Step 1: Get insurance.
This seems like a no brainer however, in the business world things that appear to be common sense are lacking. I recently found out a pole studio has been operating the past eleven months without proper insurance. How does this even happen now a days? Simple. The fitness industry is currently not a regulated trade. It's easy for anyone to set up shop without dotting all their I's and crossing all their T's. Why is this happening? My theory is that insurance is confusing and can be expensive. A lot of insurance providers do not offer coverage for special trades such as pole fitness and aerial fitness. When someone decides to open a pole studio, often times these new business owners are not proficient in the basic knowledge necessary to operate a business. Unfortunately, ignorance is not an excuse. Pole and aerial are dangerous activities that can cause injury. The most injury prevention savvy instructor can still have accidents. While no one wants to even think of the unthinkable in their studio space, you have to go into business with realistic expectations and always expect the unexpected. Insurance is essential and NO ONE should be operating a pole studio without it. I can't even imagine the horror of operating a pole studio without insurance. If someone was to get injured in your studio (whether you were the instructor or not) as an owner, you are liable. Liability includes all medical expenses and any additional expenses the injured party is legally entitled to. When it comes to legal entitlement, often times the injured party will proceed with a formal process that takes place in court. As a studio owner this would then mean you are going to court and having to pay legal fees in addition to the fees you will be ordered by the court to pay. Depending on your business formality, you may be personally held liable and legal proceedings will be dependent on your personal assets. In theory because of your business negligence, you can lose everything you have spent your entire life working hard for. Is that all REALLY worth it?
So how can a consumer protect themselves? As a student attending a studio, it is important you're educating yourself on what establishments you're monetarily supporting. You are after all, paying for a safe environment by attending classes and should be guaranteed any accidents will not leave you both financially and physically devastated. Ask questions and demand to see a copy of the current insurance policy. Don't be afraid of sounding too harsh. You need to be aware of the business practices of establishments you are paying your hard earned money for. When I owned and operated Pole Harmony, I always kept a copy of my current insurance policy handy. Even though you sign a waiver that states you acknowledge the dangers of the activity you are participating in, there are many instances where it does not absolve liability on the business owner's end. If you encounter an injury, be sure to complete an injury report (these forms are provided by insurance companies to the studio owners and copies should be readily available). Make a copy of the completed form for your records and contact the insurance provider to follow up and assure the report was submitted.
I realize this is not a topic most people ever consider when taking their first pole class but I cannot stress enough how important it is to factor in this information when researching a new studio and class. Insurance is available to protect both parties involved and if both the business owner does their part and the customer does theirs, the unexpected can be more about physical recovery versus financial.