I can see both sides of the issue on this one.
There is an objective side of fitness that can be tested. However, we already have industry standards – certifications – for that. ACE / AFAA / ACSM / NASM…. and the list goes on.
What does licensing get us other than another fee to pay to someone to check whether we actually have a certification? To me, that’s an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy and fees.
The other thing is that much of what we do is subjective. Training is a combination of science AND art. The way we interact with our clients. They way we make them feel. What makes me a great trainer in the eyes of my clients makes me an undesirable trainer in the eyes of those who don’t hire me. So, who’s right? They both are! Different strokes for different folks.
For those of us who have been in the fitness business for long enough, we’ve seen trainers who have minimal certification but natural skill. And we’ve also seen trainers who looked great on paper but couldn’t interact with a client to save their life.
The problem here is that this train has left the station many years ago. It’s very difficult (almost impossible) and very costly to regulate this industry at this point. There are many reasons why that is and it can’t be analyzed in a short answer. The only way that regulation can happen in our industry is if health insurances add personal training as one of the benefits for those customers of theirs who need it (and there are millions who do). Just like Physical Therapy and massage therapy can be covered by health insurance, so could Personal Training. But in order for the insurances to add trainers into their providers list, these trainers must get licensed by the Federal government on top of their regular certifications. I said federal and not state because this is the easiest, cheapest and fastest way to have this done. Otherwise we will be dealing with multiple regulations that will be required by each state separate.
I’m not fan of big government, but if this was going to work this is the way to do about it. Otherwise there is really no benefit for our industry to get regulated for the simple reason people don’t really care about it. If the price is right and the testimonials are good enough then trainers would be hired by those looking for one. An extra certification or license won’t influence their decision one way or another (unfortunately).