So now that obesity is classified as a disease, and we know that :obesity often presents with other comorbidities:
1. Do you think personal trainers will become a licensed profession?
2. Are fitness professionals adequately prepared to work with diseased populations?
By the way, this is not a scope of practice question. It’s a look at my industry question.
Hi Joanne. I think that this will certainly increase the pressure for personal trainers to become licensed professionals. It’s just one more reason for the States and licensing boards to begin to look at this issue more closely.
As for being adequately prepared to worked with diseased populations, I think that this ‘depends.’ Because the type of training, currently, that fitness professionals receive is so widely-varied, I think that the skill-set and knowledge that fitness professionals bring to the ‘training table’ also varies widely. The short answer is “some ARE prepared,” “some definitely ARE NOT.”
The truth is that fitness professionals are currently working with diseased populations everyday. Clients with diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis etc. are being trained everyday by fitness professionals. However, I think that the real question is “will the medical profession feel comfortable and secure enough with the existing skills and knowledge of the fitness industry to begin to OFFICIALLY prescribe personal training for their clients, and establish a referral system to those trainers?”
Right now, most trainers who are seeing these types of clients are doing so outside of an established medical referral system, and I think that it’s this piece in the puzzle that we will begin to see as this ‘new disease’ begins to get fleshed-out a bit more.
Great question – thanks!
/Agree with LaRue.
1- Personal trainers probably won’t become any more licensed unless they start offering specialties in state regulated weight loss programs. With the training many PTs receive I’d bet that people like physical therapists would start to receive more training on this kind of subject.
2- Some will be ready to work with diseased populations, others wont. Depends on the skills, experience and education personal trainers bring to the table, and with the variation we all have in those it sounds really hit or miss.
licensing will be hard to predict because it is ultimately a decision that will have to be made on state level. A good step into the right direction would be industry standards but I do not know who would take the lead on this.
Personally, I am prepared and qualified to work with individuals who are obese and have co-morbidities, and I am comfortable doing so. I know of other trainers who are, I know of some who are not. Given how many obese individuals are seeking the help of personal trainers, it may be necessary that even basic personal trainer certification begin including more knowledge about it .
Thanks for posting this question. Here are my thoughts:
1) I think personal trainers will eventually be required to have a state license, but I won’t take a guess at when that will be. Here in WI, you’re regulated by a state licensing board if you’re a geologist, a barber, or an auctioneer, just to name a few professions. There are even license requirements for apprentices in many fields. A bad personal trainer can do a lot more damage than someone lacking in skills in any of the professions I mentioned, and that’s why I think our industry should be regulated at the state level. State licensure would protect the public from some of the questionable training I’ve witnessed over the course of my career, and it would make our industry more credible, particularly if we want to be part of a preventive health care model. Ideally, this would also include some minimum insurance requirements. Trainers who are negligent and harm clients repeatedly (physical injuries, working outside their scope, sexually harassing clients, etc.) would have their license revoked, which would legitimize the rest of us who are providing safe, effective programming. In my opinion, the only people who should fear state regulation of our industry are sub-par trainers working beyond their scope or beyond their capabilities.
2) I don’t believe all fitness professionals are prepared to work with diseased populations properly. I don’t have a solution to that problem, but I think state licensure could only help the best trainers be better. Maybe a state exam to obtain licensure is the answer, since there are so many fitness certifications out there. State licensure still doesn’t guarantee you’re good though. As I stated above, I’ve seen lots of unsafe training in gyms in my 23 years in this industry. I don’t see more of it now, or less—it’s always there. Since part 2 of your question addresses fitness professionals in general and not just personal trainers, I have to say that what I’ve seen more of in recent years is the trend of fitness enthusiasts calling themselves yoga instructors when they have no education in physiology or disease whatsoever.
Until such time as we’re regulated, the best thing good trainers can do is educate as many people as possible on what to look for in a fitness professional so people can make well-informed choices and help ensure their own safety.