I have to agree with a lot of the other posts, as well as some of the comments in your blog.
I started out in this industry with a group certification from AFAA, and while I learned a lot, it has been the easiest certification I have achieved to date. While, yes it is true that there was a practical application portion to the exam, the instructors prior to the test, gave many clues as to what they would ask and what they would be looking for as to answers. While this was helpful to some, it certainly did not weed out those who were not yet ready to take the test or apply the knowledge they had learned. Of course, this may have just been the instructors who were at my particular test, but it was my exerience.
On that same note, I do not believe that any class, CEU or certification can fully prepare you for what you will or may encounter when teaching a class or instructing a client. Sure, some certifications are not held to the same standard as others, and yes, I believe that this can “soften” the industry as a whole, I think the problem is bigger than just “soft” certifications. As another person put it, till there are some regulations within the industry that are required for all personal trainers, group instructors, etc, there will be issues. I also believe that practical, hands on, experience should be required before training clients. Much like nurses, physical therapists, etc, have to have a certain number of hours of practical application of their skills before they can sit for their exams. If we, professionals in the fitness industry, truely want to be incorporated into the continuum of care with the medical community, then we need to up our standards as such.
But just as there are “soft” certifications and CEUs in the medical community, there will always be “soft” certifications within the fitness community.