I have encountered something similar recently. In a cancer survivors seniors group x class, the instructor (she is a senior herself and has a PhD in a health related field) regularly leads the seniors in static stretches prior to any core warming moves, believes that having them perform the full cobra (in yoga) is a great abdominal stretch for them, and calls supine hip adduction (scissor movement with the legs extended above hips) abdominal work. Worse still, she teaches them to do lat pulldowns behind their heads even though this stresses the shoulder girdle with excessive external rotation while placing them in cervical misalignment–and most of them have back problems, stenosis, and other such issues. She intends to seat them all on stability balls soon and have them then perform sustained, unsupported forward flexion with diagonal shearing force–as a stretch.
When she demonstrated all of this for us (her college class), and explained that this was how she wanted things done, I raised my hand to ask about the efficacy of each of these “exercises” and she simply told me that she got them all from a chiropractor and that she’s used them on seniors for 25 years with good results. I explained what my concerns were and that industry guidelines suggest such exercises should be modified for our particular population (senior cancer survivors). She told me in no uncertain terms that she couldn’t care less about rules/guidelines from “your” organization (actually, the ACSM isn’t MY organization, but they do make the rules for us all to follow). When we spoke on the phone a few days later, she said that 2 of the other students had complained that I had questioned her about the exercises–they indicated that in so doing it demonstrated a lack of respect for her. Never have I been told that we should not ask questions in a college classroom atmosphere where we are taught to think for ourselves and learn to apply the theoretical knowledge that is imparted to us by our instructors. Challenging conventional thought is one of the big reasons we are there.
So, I could ask nothing else without appearing to challenge her authority, so I have kept quiet ever since, no matter what transpires. I did explain that I could not, however, in good conscience, teach everything in exactly the same manner she does without modification for safety when it comes my turn to lead them through a warmup/workout. She told me I should probably drop the course, but since I am on financial aid, that’s not possible, but she will make certain I don’t lead anything myself. So I go to class every week and watch her do things that make me wince, but since I am not in a supervisory role I can say nothing. Apparently, some gyms/rec ctrs will literally wait until there is an injury or an incident before they deem it necessary to take action.
Perhaps this is one very strong reason why sport specific certification should be mandated for everyone leading group or one-on-one fitness regardless of their level of education. Some things are simply not taught in college courses, and ever evolving safety guidelines are one of them.