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Personal Training in the Future: Integration, Certification, and Regulation

Gym owners know that personal training is one of the best ways to improve membership retention rates and business growth. A little over a decade ago only professional athletes, celebrities, and CEOs could afford personal trainers. Now, personal training is so common, and with practical price points, that it’s a major part of nearly every fitness club in the country. Although personal trainers, training, and certifications have evolved over the last 50 years, one thing remains the same: lack of regulation in the industry.

While states like D.C., Massachusetts, and Florida are making headway in terms of regulating licenses in the industry, the process has been slow going since the early 1980s. President of PTA Global, Kevin Steele, says that the reason licensure has never been passed is that it would come at a tremendous cost to the fitness club. Every owner would have to endure the cost because, once licensed, trainers would be able to insist on a higher wage. The dilemma then becomes cutting staff to accommodate higher wages or raising membership rates. Neither one is a good idea for the club, which is why the push for licenses hasn’t been a steady one.

Yet, there are several people in the industry who argue that licensure would make the industry more credible and ensure that every fitness professional has the necessary experience, qualifications, and technical expertise to provide effective and safe exercise programs for their clients.

In the Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends performed by the American College of Sports Medicine, educated and certified fitness professionals ranked number six among the top 20 trends for 2018. The main reason for this trend is that personal training is becoming increasingly competitive. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that growth among fitness trainers and coaches in the industry will be nearly 10 percent in the next ten years – faster than most other industries. This growing market is inspiring the industry to call for a greater degree of regulation.

However, when it comes to regulation, some clubs don’t even place much emphasis on certification specifics, only requiring certifications “of some sort.” This means trainers who received their certification after a two day weekend seminar are training alongside those who went to school for fitness.

So what does a non-regulated industry mean for you as a club owner? Simply put, you owe it to your members and personal training clients as well as the industry as a whole, to hire trainers who have a diverse mix of experience, skills, and quality certifications. Because the industry hasn’t put any regulations or standards in place, clients don’t truly know if the person training them is actually qualified to do so. Most clients are too focused on their own goals to investigate the names of their trainer’s certification if and when they get injured by them.

Until regulation across the industry has been implemented, club owners can do due diligence in hiring trainers who hold at least one of the top certifications. When managers hire trainers certified by organizations accredited by third parties, they can be assured their trainers meet the minimum education standards needed to train and lead their clients through exercise programs. This is better for your reputation, your bottom line, and your piece of mind. What certifications do your trainers have? How do you encourage continued education? Let us know in the comments.