Who is representing fitness professionals? Differences seen in other organizations.
I want to know what organizations are advocating the most for our profession. I work with Physical Therapists and they have APTA. Here is their leadership: http://www.apta.org/BOD/
In contrast, I look at the ACSM leadership and see: http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/who-we-are/leadership
Am I the only one that sees a difference here? Am I wrong in assuming that very few people in the ACSM organization are, or were, practicing exercise physiologists or fitness professionals? What I am really getting at is what organization(s) are helping out our field when it comes to legislation and advocacy? With all these certifying bodies, it isn't like we can get them all to work together like APTA.
I think that these questions bring up implications with who we become certified by. Do you want your money going to an organization that may or may not have your best interests in mind? What are your thoughts on this and what good are different organizations doing for our profession?
I have been thinking about your question for some time. You bring up an excellent point when you ask who represents fitness professionals.
Comparing APTA and ACSM is not a fair comparison, though, because those organization have different objectives.
Here is the ACSM mission statement: "The American College of Sports Medicine advances and integrates scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine."
Contrast that to APTA: "The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is an individual membership professional organization representing more than 85,000 member physical therapists (PTs), physical therapist assistants (PTAs), and students of physical therapy. APTA seeks to improve the health and quality of life of individuals in society by advancing physical therapist practice, education, and research, and by increasing the awareness and understanding of physical therapy's role in the nation's health care system."
APTA also has a Political Action Committee (PAC) which wants to influence legislation pertaining to issues involving physical therapy. ACSM, on the other hand, provides guidelines in the exercise field and does not talk for the fitness industry because they are not representing it.
IDEA is probably the closest thing to APTA but at present there is a different need compared to PTs. The fitness industry is not regulated - for better or worse. On the other hand, many regulations start like a patchwork of different state legislation, sometimes even on the level of municipalities.
For all I can see, quite a few fitness organizations are in for the money. Just look at the proliferation of certifications and specialties. At least some are recognized by NCCA as a standard for certifications. That is a step in the right direction.
I guess, after a lot of rambling and looking at the issue from different sides, I still don't have an answer. But thanks for opening the discussion on that.
I could not agree more with you. Cost is just such a factor. Everybody agrees that exercise can do great things, and there is a need for qualified supervision because many people to not know where to start. But only a few a willing to pay for such services, and the masses cannot be reached.
On the flip side, free services are notoriously under-appreciated. Physical therapists had to introduce draconian threats to prevent people from canceling gratuitously, and non-compliance with the prescribed exercises are a frustrating reality for them.
People are also getting conflicting messages. It appears that many are holding out hope that a pill for their problems will be found thus making it unnecessary to exercise. After all, we have pills for just about everything.
I have no solution. I do my thing and try to reach as many people as possible by also teaching a few group classes in addition to the one-on-one training.
My two cents :-)
The truth of the matter is that nobody is looking out for our best interests.
This is a self driven profession
ACSM has done what all others have done, they have realized they can make a ton of money by offering certifications/cec's etc to fitness pros
We are not regulated or licensed.
Until those two aspects get changed nothing else will change.
I've heard mention of people hoping for reimbursement from insurance companies for fitness services, specifically personal training. Anyone with a basic understanding of business realizes that this is not sustainable. The high cost of personal training would increase the costs incurred by insurance companies, which ultimately pass the bill to the rest of us. I do believe that there is potential for reimbursement in group exercise settings, for populations that are at a high risk of future health complications as a result of deconditioning.
I feel as if nobody is really fighting for the increasing, maintaining, or even defining, our scope of practice. Our field is hardly mentioned in the statutes of the State of Massachusetts, where my business is located. This field really has a great opportunity for expansion to to efficiently serve a large number of people.
1. Personal training doesn't guarantee the outcomes that the insurance companies are looking for. The education base of personal trainers is very diverse and some trainers simply do not have good outcomes. In addition, the plans of action that are outlined by different certifying bodies can range, and many trainers ignore them because they are often behind the times. If a weight loss client walks into a gym, the plan that will be provided simply varies too greatly to be able to predict outcomes. Additionally, there would have to be proof that personal training leads to good long-term outcomes. If a client loses 25 pounds initially, but regains 30 pounds within a year or two (not out of the norm in many case or scientific studies), then that doesn't really help the client or save insurance companies any money.
2. Personal training (1 on 1) is not an efficient delivery of services. This is realistically a luxury service for those who can afford it. If weight loss is the goal, I can easily train 3-5 clients at the same time and deliver very close to the same service as 1 on 1 training. When considering health care costs, if I can get 80-90% of the results, for 35-50% of the cost, that is efficient delivery of services.
3. Reimbursement for services always opens up the potential for fraud. To combat this fraud, it seems that insurance companies and Medicare bombard you with paperwork. If personal training ever gained any form of compensation, I would not be surprised to see paperwork akin to that found in a physical therapy settings. Assessments, discharges, having to fight with insurance companies over how many sessions are necessary, etc. If it went this route, you would not even want to bother.
In my opinion, our best bet would be to fight for small compensation from employers, or insurance companies, for small to moderate size group sessions. If it would normally cost the client $15/session, perhaps they could get $5 reimbursed per session. This is considerably less than a $15-30+ dollar copay for physical therapy.
I appreciate your participation in this discussion. Regardless of our opinions differing, it would be nice if we had an outlet to discuss these with an organization that was ready to back us. As mentioned earlier in the discussion, APTA fights for legislation for their professionals. Who is fighting for us?
If WE only see the valuable services that we provide to our clients as a 'luxury service' then how can we EVER expect the lay public, the medical professionals, and the reimbursers to ever treat us any differently.
I believe that if the fitness industry is ever to gain recognition as part of our overall healthcare system, then we cannot treat what we do and offer as some sort of 'product' that comes with a 100% guarantee as if we are selling tires or some other fungible good. We are not, we are offering a professional, and very personal service, and until we treat it that way, and expect ourselves to be viewed that way, we will ALWAYS be viewed as a 'luxury.'
Love the debate, thanks so much for introducing it.
Searching on ACE's website, I found the Legislative Action Center (http://www.acefitness.org/cp/legislativeac.aspx). Definitely some interesting topics in there, including bills that are currently being considered (https://votervoice.net/ACEFITNESS/Bills). I'm not sure if this is actual legislation that they are trying to push through, or if they are just making people aware of it. In either case, it is an excellent idea.
After looking through a lot of the organizations, ACE seems to be doing the most in terms of recognition for our field. I would love if someone could change my mind about ACSM because I believe that the they have a better certification system in place, with certain certifications that are only obtainable with a degree in the field. That being said, it seems like most, if not all, of the decision makers are professors or doctors. I have yet to find any other professional organization that does not have a high percentage of their board being made up of professionals of that field.
To me, the ideal fitness organization would:
- Represent and advocate for fitness professionals, especially in areas of improving the respect for the profession. Be involved in legislation that will lead to growth of our profession.
- Provide certifications for a variety of levels and different scopes of practice. This might be one place where ACE fails. Their high level certification only requires 300 hours of experience (healthy or high-risk individuals) and has not requirements regarding education. I think "Advanced" certification should require actual experience with high-risk individuals. The higher end certifications should really be more like an online class too and should be difficult. Everyone wants to have the highest end certifications, but you should have to earn them.
- Provide high quality continuing education. Not too much fluff. I think there is a void for practical science. Currently, we either have detailed science presentations with no practical applications, or fun and games without any understanding or basis for what we are actually doing.
- Provide support for small businesses. Often times new business owners need to be advised regarding liability, start-up costs, hiring employees, and more.
Would love to hear other opinions,
I'd say that none of the certifying bodies have our interests in mind. They are businesses, and profit is usually a driving force. For example- I've been hearing/seeing ads for starting salaries of personal trainers. If there are any trainers making salaries like that, I have yet to meet one.
As for insurance companies paying for PT, I see it in the future but it'll be messy. People usually don't enjoy working out. I still get clients who pay for several months in advance and stop showing up half way though.
Insurance companies already pay for gym memberships, and it's not the prettiest thing. When a membership should start at 29.99-60+ a month, insurance companies may pay 3.50 for each visit and max at 30.00 a month. Very few people will show to your gym 10+ times a month.
After reading each of the responses I'd have to agree with Susan most- it really comes down to how much YOU put into yourself.