What Does The Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act Mean For Florida Gym Owners and Dietitians?

On June 30th, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act (HB 1193), allowing anyone in Florida to provide nutrition guidance to the public. 


Before the Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act (HB 1193), Florida was one of the strictest states, only allowing dietitians to provide and charge for nutrition services. 


Over the past six months, I’ve received emails and calls from nutrition coaches in Florida, who had received cease and desist letters from the Department of Health. These coaches obtained certifications, like Precision Nutrition, and provided clients with basic nutrition guidance but didn’t realize they were practicing out of scope. 


After obtaining an online nutrition certification, Cissie launched nutrition coaching services at her gym. Six weeks later, she received a cease and desist letter from the Department of Health. Embarrassed and upset, she had no idea what to do next. You can listen to Cisssie’s story >>HERE.


The problem was you could not charge for any nutrition services in Florida if you didn’t have a Registered Dietitian involved with the program. 


As a CrossFit Affiliate Owner and Registered Dietitian, I realize the good and potential harm that can be done now that the Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act (HB 1193) is signed. 


First, let’s talk about the good.


The foundation of the fitness pyramid is nutrition, yet most gym owners skip right over the conversation about nutrition. 


The first 13 words of fitness by Greg Glassman don’t talk about fitness; they talk about nutrition. “Eat meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar…”


The overwhelming majority of gym owners and coaches do not talk about nutrition; they skip right over it because they don’t feel confident talking about nutrition beyond what works well for them. 


I was on a call with a gym owner in Oviedo, Florida, this week, and she told me that she didn’t talk about nutrition at all because she didn’t want to break the law. Now, she can make nutrition a bigger priority in her gym without the fear of getting a cease and desist. 


We know you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. 


Gym owners now have an opportunity to provide the total package, nutrition and fitness coaching, without the fear of getting a letter to cease and desist in the mail. 


Some things need to happen first:


   1. Gym owners and coaches need to educate themselves on nutrition to feel confident when talking about nutrition to their clients. 


There are two nutrition courses that are CrossFit Preferred Courses.  Both of these courses are fantastic and focus on a habit-based approach and meeting clients where they are. 


After training over 2,000 gym owners and coaches through HSN Mentoring, we understand what it takes to help clients see lasting results. A successful nutrition program and diet isn’t a diet at all; it’s a lifestyle change. Clients need more help beyond a downloadable guide or PDF to see results; they need accountability and support!


   2. Your staff needs to get on the same page with your nutrition message. 


There is so much misinformation out there about nutrition. As a gym owner, you need to ensure a consistent message within your gym. 


   3. Create a clear client journey.


How can you build nutrition into your intake process and make it a bigger priority on day one? 


In Episode 24 of the Grow Your Nutrition Business Podcast, we discuss reopening your gym with a thriving nutrition program. Listen >>HERE.


As a gym owner, you can only wear so many hats. If you are looking to build a thriving nutrition program, consider hiring a nutrition coach to help your clients. As a gym owner, you still need to be involved with your nutrition program. Your clients will only make nutrition a priority if you do. 


   4. Know your scope.


Medical nutrition therapy and helping someone manage a disease state is out of the scope of your scope to provide nutrition coaching. 


Examples of diseases/conditions requiring MNT include but are not limited to:

  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Celiac Disease
  • Gastroparesis
  • GERD
  • High Output Stoma
  • Colitis (Ulcerative or Microscopic) 
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Short Bowel Syndrome 
  • Diabetes (Type 1 or 2 and Gestational)
  • Kidney Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • High Cholesterol
  • Cardiovascular Disease 
  • Thalassemia
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Pulmonary Disease
  • Gout
  • Food Allergies
  • Kidney Stones
  • Post Surgical (Bariatric, Whipple Procedure, Cholecystectomy, etc)
  • Malnutrition/Failure to Thrive/Involuntary Weight Loss
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Psoriasis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
  • Cystic Fibrosis 
  • Eating Disorders
  • Pregnancy
  • Sarcopenia
  • Inherited Metabolic Disorders (Tay-Sachs Disease, Phenylketonuria, Sickle-Cell Disease, Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome, etc)
  • Thyroid Disease (Hyper or Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s Disease, etc)
What does this mean?


If you have a client with an eating disorder, and your nutrition program encourages people to log and track everything, you will likely make the situation worse. 


If you are working with a diabetic on insulin and ask them to cut their carbohydrates without adjusting medication (out of your scope), you could cause their blood sugar to plummet and end up in the hospital. 


After a social media post by CrossFit yesterday, I read comments from dietitians who were furious about this act.


As a Registered Dietitian in Florida, you need to realize the opportunity you have here! 


It’s time to build a relationship with your local gyms. They need someone they can trust to send their clients who need medical nutrition therapy.   


Most gym owners do not have the bandwidth to run nutrition programs themselves. You can help! 


Recommendations For Gym Owners: 


Now is the time to revamp your nutrition program. Start talking about nutrition during classes! Become a content king and make nutrition a priority in your message. 


If you want to be seen as a nutrition expert, you need to start providing help with nutrition. 


If you are unsure where to start, join this Facebook group, Nutrition Programs For Gym Owners, for FREE help.


If you are looking to partner with a dietitian or a nutrition coach, make sure your values align. 


Would you hire a cycling coach to teach your CrossFit class? No way!


Link any profession; there are good doctors, chiropractors and lawyers, and there are not so good ones. The same thing goes for dietitians. This year marks ten years as a dietitian in the field. I left my full-time job at the hospital because I didn’t agree with the nutrition recommendations I was required to say. The most significant discrepancies were with diabetes management. This post sums it all. 


Right now, gym owners and dietitians have an opportunity to empower healthier communities together. Instead of increasing the divide, let’s work together! 


Top 5 Mistakes When Building A Nutrition Program

FREE Help Related To
Building A Nutrition Program In A Gym

  • READ: How To Recoup Cost Of Your Initial Investment With HSN Mentoring In Under 30-Days HERE
  • LISTEN: How To Build A Nutrition Program Into A CrossFit Gym HERE
  • LISTEN: Nutrition Made Simple Podcast – CrossFit, Nutrition & Your Health HERE
  • HSN Mentoring Gym Owner Highlight: Meet Rob & Beth Young, Owners of CrossFit Rockland, How A 11-Year CrossFit Affiliate Changed Their Business Model To Prioritize Nutrition & Health Of Their Clients HERE