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.
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.