What to Know About Trademarks for Fitness Instructors

Imagine the shock of getting called “into the office” for the tempo of a song in a popular trademarked class.  

Turns out, some trademark group fitness programs have local leadership who do like to protect their brand like that.  So it makes a group fitness instructor wonder…what are the rules?

 Here are a few considerations to help you revisit your license agreement with the brand you are representing.

Instructors, by nature are artists, with an instinctive desire to be creative and evolve.   When you represent a brand as a license-holder, however, it can get a little tricky.  

Where is there room to be creative? 

Where is the line already drawn?


Program Safety - Understand the Rules

Some group fitness programs use props that require safety guidelines because of how the props are used.  The use of steps or weights, for instance have safety features in order for them to be included in a high energy cardio program.  Imagine what would happen if tools were used with students with a tempo of music that makes any physical practice too challenging to the point of injury.  

Students benefit from your care to the packaging of music and the company intends on fidelity to the product. Raising the tempo outside of program music is one example of how we put our license agreement at risk.  

The current standard for music tempo, according to IDEA Health and Fitness Association is 130-135 beats per minute (bpm) for low-impact cardio dance classes within warm-up and cool-down. For step classes, while its been heavily discussed, studies support an average of 122 bpm, slower for beginners and not much higher for skilled trainers.  Spinning classes use a different standard than bpms.  They use revolutions per minute (rpm), and usually counts as 2 beats.  Given that, the speed of a safe spinning workout would range from 60-110 rpm (equivalent to 120-220 bpm).

There is a reason for the rule.

 It protects not only the fitness brand, but it also is intended to protect the group fitness student.

It is not uncommon for a group fitness instructor to come home from a recent conference or expo and want to immediately implement new learning within a current class format.  It might be worth a little research to keep your students safe, your reputation as a professional admirable, and your brand smiling over your teaching.

Cardio dance programs, which also have accompanying programs with weights, are a famous place where instructors can begin to mesh the two, much to the concern of the corporations of those programs which have specific license instructions for their instructors.


Take Zumba, For Example.

One example is Zumba® Fitness and Zumba® Toning Programs.  Zumba Home Office clearly delineates that there is a difference between the two.  When they see Zumba® Fitness on a gym schedule, they expect a cardio class with no weights used.  When it includes the ‘Toning’ addition, it assumes that weights will be used for a portion, if not the entire class.

While the programs are mutually popular, it is even very common to see students meshing them.  In my own Zumba® Fitness classes, I’ve had students grab a set of 8 pound weights to use during a traditional Zumba® Fitness class.  What a relief it is to be able to approach the student and play “good cop” by telling them that you are following someone else’s rules by asking them to put their weights down and enjoy the dance.  

Somehow, telling them that following the rules of the brand protects your job, seems to keep the instructor out of the blame game, even though the instructor really wants to keep the students safe and the others who might have secret ambitions, resolved in their future pursuits.

So you can see that there are some rules that many group fitness brands have to help protect them and the intention of delivering a safe workout with a memorable program that was engaging enough to attract you to it.  It might be worth revisiting your add-ons to the program, so you can teach with a confidence that your students will feel. 

Many group fitness brands have departments whose only reason for existing is to offer legal support and it’s usually just an email or a phone call away.  There’s a common adage, “better to ask forgiveness than permission.” It’s not altogether true, but just in case, there’s always Insure Fitness Group!

Resources: http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/how-fast-is-that-music

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