Intro to Personal Training Licensure

An epidemic of epic proportions is killing Americans.

Eighty million Americans are obese. Eighty-six percent of American health care spending goes to treating chronic diseases. These include “heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis.” In other words, they’re lifestyle-related diseases.

Calculating the full death toll of lifestyle-related diseases is impossible. Alcohol kills 88,000 lives yearly. Tobacco kills more than 480,000 yearly. Obesity is estimated to kill 112,000 yearly.

At least 680,000 Americans will die this year just from just obesity, alcohol and tobacco. The total number dying from lifestyle-related diseases must be significantly higher.

And it’s getting worse. Experts predict that by 2030, 165 million Americans will be obese. By 2050, 100 million Americans may suffer from diabetes. Consider the implications for America’s military readiness. Or for the federal budget as a whole. The CDC has already identified an “unsustainable growth in health care costs.” The Congressional Budget Office concurs.

Who, in this environment, would limit Americans’ access to fitness? And who would artificially inflate the price of fitness training?

The American College of Sports Medicine and National Strength and Conditioning Association are supporting legislation that would do both. Both organizations are promoting fitness licensure laws. We can assume that ACSM and NSCA’s largest sponsor, PepsiCo, supports these laws as well.

Daniel Casey lost 150 pounds training at a CrossFit affiliate: http://bit.ly/1JQabva

Daniel Casey lost 150 pounds training at a CrossFit affiliate: http://bit.ly/1JQabva

What is Licensure?

In licensure, the government bans the general public from practicing a profession. Only those who pay the government money, meet the government’s chosen criteria, and acquire a government license are allowed to practice the profession. Anyone else who tries to perform the service will face fines and possibly a jail sentence.

For example, in order to become an interior designer in Florida, an individual “must achieve six years of education and experience and pass all three portions of the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam. There is a $125 biennial renewal fee, and continuing education is also required.”

As for fitness, Washington, D.C., passed the nation’s first law requiring personal trainer licensure in 2014, the Omnibus Health Regulation Amendment Act of 2013. The DC government is still reviewing the bill.

How Would Licensure Affect Fitness?

Licensure will make fitness training more expensive and less accessible.

From the perspective of personal trainers, they will be forced to pay more money in fees and certifications than they would have otherwise. Where licensure has passed in other fields, it has often lowered the supply and increased the cost of a service. We thus reasonably expect that a fitness licensure law will make fitness training more expensive, and rarer.

This hurts the poor in two ways. For one, it creates another obstacle they must overcome to create a career in fitness. Second, the additional fines and certifications will reach potential consumers of fitness in the form of higher prices for gyms and classes.

Licensure bills vary from state to state, but Florida Senate Bill 1616 would convict unlicensed personal trainers of a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.

If the Florida legislature passes SB 1616, then a CrossFit Level 1 trainer who teaches someone how to squat will face more jail time than a driver convicted of a DUI.

Florida's bill would carry a maximum jail sentence of 1 year for unlicensed personal training.

Is this the future for CrossFit affiliates? Florida’s bill would impose a maximum jail sentence of 1 year for unlicensed personal training.

Who Will Oversee Licensure?

While it may sound pleasant for personal trainers to become better educated, personal training licensure faces another dilemma. Who is qualified to regulate fitness?

Only participants in the fitness industry have the technical knowledge to regulate the profession, yet all practitioners have private interests that directly conflict with the public interest. What’s to prevent a licensing board of fitness professionals from becoming a cartel that crushes competition and maximizes its own profits?

Many proposed licensing bills accept NCCA-accredited certifications like the ACSM and NSCA’s, yet not CrossFit’s ANSI-accredited Level 1 Certificate Course.

NSCA can’t identify a parallel squat. Should it therefore become a government-empowered provider of fitness education? If NSCA already publishes fraudulent studies to hurt its competition, how would it behave if it was granted governmental power?

What about ACSM? Should Pepsi- and Coca-Cola-sponsored scientists receive governmental sanction?

And what about CrossFit’s 11,000 affiliates and 100,000 CrossFit Level 1 trainers? Why should the government force CrossFit affiliate owners and Level 1 trainers to pay for training they wouldn’t choose on their own?

What could academics who can’t teach a half squat have to offer a CrossFit affiliate owner who has already taught hundreds of clients to squat to depth?

In contrast with CrossFit, NSCA and ACSM’s certifications don’t require in-person education or practical assessments. CrossFit’s Level 3 Certification requires 750 hours of practice, plus passing multiple tests and receiving in-person training and corrections.

What do NSCA and ACSM have to offer these athletes?

What do NSCA and ACSM have to offer Oldroyd, Bailey, and Spealler?

Where is the Push for Licensure Coming From?

State governments may expect to benefit from licensure, as long as registration fees exceed administration costs. However, if licensure hurts the overall growth of the state’s fitness industry, and impairs the public’s health, will it be worth it in the long run?

Unscrupulous politicians will benefit more clearly, with lobbyists’ dollars. The ACSM has lobbied for licensure since at least 2010, when it wrote that, “all of the pieces of the licensure puzzle are falling in place.”

NSCA Education Director Nick Clayton wrote in Fitness Trainer Magazine last year that “the next five years will bring a shift towards licensure in the personal training industry, which will likely require personal trainers to earn an accredited certification.” Clayton emphasizes that NSCA certifications will count for licensure, but not the CrossFit Level 1 Seminar. How convenient.

What concerns motivate the push for licensure? Licensure advocates say they want to protect the public from injuries and unqualified trainers. If licensure is in the public’s interest, why is the most interest in licensure coming from narrow industry interests, not the public? If injuries inflicted by personal trainers are such a crisis, why aren’t licensure advocates citing data?

The Council of the District of Colombia Committee on Health and Human Services cited just “anecdotal reports of injuries.” David Herbert, a lawyer who has worked for both the ACSM and NSCA, wrote a book promoting licensure. Its title is “The Personal Trainer: A Tale of Pain, Gain, Greed and Lust.” Herbert’s book is a work of fiction.

To demonstrate the need for licensure, ACSM and NSCA lawyer David Herbert turned to fiction.

To demonstrate the need for licensure, ACSM and NSCA lawyer David Herbert turned to fiction.

How can anecdotal concerns and fictional injuries outweigh the certain fact that millions of Americans are dying from poor nutrition and movement choices? Surely the certain, overwhelming costs of a sedentary lifestyle outweigh the limited risks of fitness training.

Licensure will severely constrain competition in the fitness-education industry. Most licensure bills would remove the need for ACSM and NSCA to compete with ANSI-accredited courses, such as CrossFit’s. A CrossFit affiliate owner may be forced to also take an NSCA, ACSM or similar certification, even if he finds the material useless to his practice.

These licensure bills allow ACSM and NSCA to profit from CrossFit affiliates without providing value to the affiliates’ clients or owners. By constraining the competition, these bills will make American fitness training less effective and more expensive.

What Can CrossFit Affiliates Do?

Fortunately, CrossFit identified the licensure threat early. No bill has gone into effect yet. And only D.C. has passed a bill so far. Stay tuned to this blog and CrossFit.com for updates.

CrossFit’s 11,000 affiliates form the perfect basis for opposition. Here are the relevant lobbyists and politicians.

If just a small fraction of the CrossFit community rallies together, contacts these individuals and expresses their thoughts on licensure, we can stop these bills from being enacted into law.

Washington D.C.

Omnibus Health Regulation Amendment Act of 2013: https://legiscan.com/DC/bill/B20-0153/2013
Rayna Smith, Esq.: (202) 724-8170rsmith@dccouncil.us
Chairman Phil Mendelson(202) 724-8032, pmendelson@dccouncil.us

Florida:
SB 1616: https://legiscan.com/FL/text/S1616/id/976007
Senator Maria Sachs: (561) 279-1427, info@mariasachs.com

Massachusetts:
HB 209: https://legiscan.com/MA/bill/H209/2013
Representative Robert F. Fennell: 617-722-2575, Robert.Fennell@mahouse.gov

Georgia:
SB 204: https://legiscan.com/GA/text/SB204/id/207865
Senator Emanuel Jones: (404) 656-0502, emanj@mindspring.com

New Jersey:
SB 731: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/Bills/S1000/731_I1.HTM
Senator Paul Sarlo: (201) 804-8118, mayorsarlo@njwoodridge.org

NSCA:
Nick Clayton: 719.632.6722, ext.140, nick.clayton@nsca.com

ACSM and NSCA:
David L. Herbert: (330) 493-1000, info@herblaw.com

ACSM:
Madeline Paternostro Bayles: 724-357-7835mpbayles@iup.edu

Justin Null's lost 101 pound training at CrossFit Tried and True: http://on.fb.me/1EMRc3w

Justin Null’s already lost 101 pounds training at CrossFit Tried and True: http://on.fb.me/1EMRc3w

41 comments

  1. Reblogged this on CrossFit TriForce and commented:
    As if the governments intrusion on your health care wasn’t enough…there is great danger in these proposed regulations. It’s not dissimilar to what has already happened in the world of physical therapy and the monopoly that physician lobbyists hold on patient care.

  2. You are raging against higher standards and more thorough education? Licensure increases quality, defines standards and helps weed out the negligent losers. This makes a regulated playing field. How many CF level 1 coaches or CPT’s have had a formal class in anatomy or kinesiology? Sounds like a pretty important, basic foundation of knowledge to call yourself a specialist in movement of the body with applied external forces. Let alone guiding others in this area. Caution: this is written with a very slanted voice and tone.

    • Sami,
      First,
      please provide an argument to support the idea that the fitness industry suffers from a problem significant enough to warrant using the police power of government to control who can or cannot practice the profession. I’m assuming this has something to do with fear of death or injury, as that is usually the tactic taken by those lobbying against their competitors (see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/07/31/the-taxi-industry-is-crushing-uber-and-lyft-on-the-lobbying-front-3500-to-1/)
      Second,
      All CrossFit L1 participants are exposed to basic concepts of anatomy and physiology as they pertain to the movements taught within the scope of the CrossFit L1. They are also exposed to multiple hours of live training and practice performing functional movements. By comparison, the ACSM and NSCA’s entry-level personal trainer require no face-to-face personal instruction in movement.

    • I’m very interested in how this issue turns out. I see both sides of the story, and as a college professor of exercise science, I certainly have a vested interest. CF does a lot of things well. And I’m guessing there are bad trainers out there for any certification you can find. I guess the real question is whether the CF L 1 cert is of poorer quality than the proposed standard certifications. I’m not prepared to say that is the case.

      I appreciate all the free materials CF has put out – I use them as a resource for my students and myself.

      Thanks for posting.

      • Russ Greene

        The appropriate comparison is not between the CrossFit L1 certificate course and ACSM or NSCA certifications, but rather between the CrossFit L3 certification and those certification.

        For example, the CrossFit L3 requires a minimum of 750 hours of experience training athletes. NSCA and ACSM certifications require no practical experience or practical assessment of abilities. The NSCA CSCS does require a 4 year degree, but it can be in any subject.

        Furthermore, given the NSCA and ACSM’s track records (knowingly publishing false data in the Devor case, publishing unreliable studies on sponsor Power Plate, taking Gatorade money and then releasing irresponsible hydration guidelines etc), why should the government favor them at all?

  3. I am a CFL1 (2 full days of in-person instruction, hands-on coaching, written test, physical demonstration, $1000) and NASM CPT (300-page book, multiple choice test, $600). I would estimate that I apply about 10% of the NASM book knowledge, 60% from Crossfit courses/experience, and 30% from various other books, medical journals, interviews, seminars, and client experience to my personal training. I feel that the NASM cert is more reputable to gym owners in terms of hiring but it’s not nearly enough information to justify charging someone $50+/hour to train them. In my experience, the Crossfit instruction yields better results in overall strength and endurance because the movements are more complex and challenging yet due to public perception, some clients avoid a “crossfit” trainer. That being said, Crossfit as a company needs to redirect it’s public perception as a rogue, cult-ish, fringe fitness discipline that’s “dangerous” and too challenging. As an organization in it’s youth that’s infringing on other business’ revenue streams, it’s not uncommon for those losing money to label Crossfit as a fad along with boot camp, barre, boxing, etc or to focus on the negatives such as injuries or being a cult…which is why it might actually be a good thing for Crossfit coaches to be required to have an additional, government-mandated license. I think it’s pretty safe to say that for every 1 bad crossfit coach, there are 20 bad book/test personal trainers injuring clients or simply being ineffective due to lack of knowledge and experience. Crossfit could capitalize on that by partnering with a nationally-accredited certification. If you can’t beat em, join em – just not necessarily in your daily application of their information. Do like I did – get Crossfit instruction but also have a reputable, accredited cert in you back pocket to deter false perception. If Crossfit can’t become nationally accredited in a timely fashion or will ultimately be left out of mandated licensure, it should either partner with another certification company or require additional education to their coaches in order to succeed beyond their base. Considering you can become a CPT for roughly $600 and a couple of weeks studying, a lot people pursue the profession because you can earn a decent wage for far less time and money than college or technical school. This is precisely why a third-party licensing body needs to step in and ensure that anyone doling out advice on lifestyle, diet, movement, posture, programming, etc has a requisite level of expertise verified by a third-party, in this case, the government. Whether trainers want to admit it or not, they give out what is essentially medical advice on a daily basis. No one considers it government overreach that doctors and nurses are required to take state boards but is in an uproar when trainers might have to come out of pocket another couple hundred bucks to gain some legitimacy. As for whether or not licensure will drive up prices is up to market. If you want to lose business because you’re passing on your own education costs to your clients, I’ll be more than happy to take them on at my current, un-inflated hourly rate. Hopefully, the theory that Pepsi is sponsoring the bill because it wants to influence NCSA to promote drinking more soda in their curriculum is false but again, no one is saying you absolutely have to follow their fitness approach. You just have to pass their test. And if required nationally, it initially puts everyone on a level playing field. Then you go on to differentiate yourself and charge more when get Crossfit certs, exercise science degrees, masters degrees, nutritionist cert, etc.

    • Andrew,
      The CrossFit L1 is Internationally accredited through ANSI (http://www.ansi.org) which holds its member organizations to a higher standard than the NCCA does, in my opinion. I think this fact makes your argument moot. It is interesting, however that you said this: “Crossfit as a company needs to redirect it’s public perception as a rogue, cult-ish, fringe fitness discipline that’s “dangerous” and too challenging.” Where do you think this public perception comes from? It turns out that this perception comes primarily from our competitors, who speak through both media and false/erroneous academic hit-pieces. In fact, I believe your reaction to this bad press is exactly what the ACSM and NSCA would hope for. Job well done on their part I suppose.

      My next question is simple, if the NSCA and ACSM are nationally accredited and you generally agrees that the CrossFit L1 (which is internationally accredited) contains more useful information, why are you not arguing that these trainers be mandated to take the CrossFit L1 course?

      • To clarify, I should have said nationally-reputable rather than accredited because in my experiences in the fitness industry, reputation of credentials means way more in terms of hiring trainers and gaining clients than the actual accreditation. When I applied for reimbursement from the GI Bill for my CFL1 course in 2012, it got declined because Crossfit was not on their list of reimbursable certifications. NASM was. When I applied for a job as a personal trainer at a small gym with only a CFL1, they said I could start immediately once I got a certification from ACE, NASM, ACSM, etc. So I did. In just a few weeks, I got NASM certified then went right back to using Crossfit to program for my clients in a non-crossfit gym. And because of the results seen in the clients, other trainers started to use certain aspects of my methodology and seek inputs about programming. I didn’t walk around the gym talking about how lame elliptical machines are and how awesome o-lifts are. I made it clear through results that complexity and intensity are scalable (regardless of Crossfit parallels) rather than write a counter-point to some personal training blogger’s attempt to influence it’s readers. The crossfit community gets so caught up in trying to disprove the anti-crossfit side with data or showing the lack thereof that we forget that this is a business and it’s the owners and patrons who determine what businesses go and who stays. Business owners don’t care what the data says if it doesn’t impact their bottom line. They care about what their clients perceive the approach to be and how that impacts their long-term profitability through client retention. I’ve seen it from both sides (crossfit gym and regular training studio) and I feel we’re officially at the point of stalemate where regular gyms want no association with Crossfit (even if they run a HIIT class with burpees and KB swings) because of the injury perception and crossfit coaches won’t program a bicep curl for fear of losing their own perception of fitness superiority. It seems to me that the best way to induce some cross-discipline integration in the fitness industry and have crossfit methodology come out on top is to champion national licensing, encourage crossfit coaches to pursue reputable certification/licensing in addition to CF certs, then push them out into other fitness avenues. Crossfit has had much success integrating other disciplines into the community (yoga, strongman, mobility, MMA, etc) but regular trainers aren’t seeking out crossfit skills and taking them back to globo gym.

        I would be more than excited if the eventual licensing process contained “crossfit” information requirements but the community as a whole has been so combative to the scrutiny that it is highly unlikely. It seems counterproductive to me that, rather than argue for Crossfit HQ to make an attempt to be a part of the curriculum and licensing process, you’d rather argue against licencing altogether based on costs, individual freedoms and theoretical economics. Furthermore, it’s a form of fear mongering to think that cops are going to be cuffing dudes doing burpees in the park without a license and I don’t think that it’s too much to ask of someone to pay a few dollars and take a test in order to safely lead a workout group and accept payment out of their garage gym.

      • Andrew,

        Your argument is incoherent. You’re concerned with the negative perception many in the public have of CrossFit, yet you are critical of CrossFitters for defending their methodology and brand from the very attacks that perpetuate this misperception. I’ve re-read your post three times now and I don’t see any clear argument for regulation except for something you call “cross-dicipline integration in the fitness industry.” I have no idea what this means.

        Also, we are not fear mongering. The Florida bill we cited literally included jail time for anyone practicing personal training without a license.

  4. The purpose of licensure is to protect the consumer. If you are just an anti-establishment person that believes in no governmental oversight to protect consumers, please stop reading now and go work on your zombie apocalypse shelter. If you truly care about obesity and all of the other health related issues that fitness professionals can aid consumers in improving, you should be the first one in line pushing for licensure. The problem you should be addressing is the lack of current oversight in the fitness industry where anyone can claim to be a fitness professional. Perhaps interior design isn’t really an area that the government should be protecting. I am sure that there are other professions that should be eliminated from licensure as well. Imagine the disaster that would occur if anyone could call themselves a physician or surgeon. Any charlatan with a slick presentation could try to remove your appendix and you would have no way to know that the state has verified his credentials. A previous post sites physical therapy licensure as an example of government overreaching. I am a physical therapist. If not for state licensure, there would be no physical therapists given the training required to obtain this degree. If anyone could say they do physical therapy, consumers would believe it and go to the cheapest option available. It happens every day and only the state board can step in to prevent this deception to the consumer. Of course, if you believe a fitness professional is less skilled and potentially less harmful to the consumer than an interior designer, then go ahead and fight it. You can fight to keep fitness professionals in the background and out of the mainstream of health care and wellness professionals.
    Finally, I find it incredibly disingenuous for anyone speaking on behalf of the CrossFit industry to complain about fitness costs to the poor. CrossFit membership at your local box is surely one of the most expensive training options available. It may very well be the best option, but by no means should anyone suggest CrossFit coaching is the only path to wellness or fitness. You may believe the cost is worth it as I do. Keep in mind, we are talking about CrossFit coaching, not CrossFit. Anyone can go to CrossFit.com and follow the daily WOD and attempt to learn from the multitude of education offerings on the main site. Coaching at a box is prohibitively expensive for most of the ‘poor’ that this article claims to be fighting for.

    • Paul,
      I’m not going to argue economic or political ideology with you. Instead, let’s do something much simpler. If you believe that the regulation of the fitness industry is necessary for “protecting” consumers, can you provide argument or evidence that there is currently a significant need for protecting the public? If there is, why are the only ones calling for this protection the organizations CrossFit is driving out of the fitness industry?

      Next, can you provide argument or evidence that the ACSM/NSCA credential (neither organization can consistently or accurately explain concepts as simple as how to hydrate or how to squat) would improve the situation you believe exists?

      Finally, consider the track record our government has in involving itself in matters of nutrition. For decades our government has promoted an high-carb, low-fat approach to nutrition that was negligently protective of those who benefited from the sale of refined grains and sugars. This prescription was highly profitable for some of the largest food companies and pharmaceutical companies in the world, and has lead to incalculable damage to our society’s health. With a track-record like this, why do you have faith that our government would competently and neutrally deliver the best fitness information to the public?

  5. “Licensure will make fitness training more expensive and less accessible.”

    More expensive than the $190.00 I’m already paying for CF? When I look around my CF I don’t see a lot of socio-economic diversity so accessibility already seems limited

    Physical therapist, athletic trainers, message therapist, nutritionist all must be licensed but personal trainers shouldn’t?

    • Ryan,
      CrossFit can be done for free. We’ve posted workouts on CrossFit.com for over a decade and produced more free instructional content on functional movement than any other organization on earth. You might have an affiliate gym membership, but plenty of people coach their buddies in a garage or meet in a park to train together. Under this type of proposed legislation, that could mean time in jail unless the person organizing those groups has first paid a fee to the ACSM/NSCA.

      • If I should have surgery on my knee, I am not doing my post-surgical rehab with a guy who has some equipment and a wi-fi connection. I’m going to the person with a license, a certificate of occupancy, probably liability insurance and a CPT code to bill my insurance. Full disclosure here, I’m a licensed athletic trainer in Texas. I have seen the evolution of state legislation in my own profession. Want to possibly bill third party payers for your services as a healthcare provider of preventative medicine? Might want to rethink licensing. Think outside the box.

      • Ryan, choosing your rehabilitation specialists, hairdressers, plumbers, and fitness trainers based on their credentials and experience is and should be your personal choice. This can be easily accomplished through you researching your local options.

    • Russ Greene

      “Want to possibly bill third party payers for your services as a healthcare provider of preventative medicine? Might want to rethink licensing. Think outside the box.”

      This doesn’t imply licensing.

      The state could easily maintain a registry of government-accepted fitness professionals who are accepted for health care billing, without criminalizing trainers who chose not to register.

      • You are looking at only one component of my point. What insurance company is going to provide malpractice/liability coverage to a “government-accepted fitness professional?” Insurance companies will insure a licensed professional.

      • Russ Greene

        Ryan,

        One option is for health care providers to pay for “clinical exercise physiologists” and then have a government license for CEPs. Louisiana does this.

        Note that this does not criminalize personal trainers who may have passed the CrossFit L3 or L4 but never took an ACSM test.

        There’s absolutely no justification for criminalizing squat instruction.

      • Russ Greene

        I should specify that Louisiana licenses CEPs, but I’m not sure if health care providers are billed for CEP services. My point is that they could be, without requiring personal trainer licensure.

  6. I agree with the arguments in this article, even though I have both CFL1 (signed up for L2 next month) and NSCA-CPT credentials. Licensure is largely a way of reducing competition and codifying the status quo as law. Arguments that licensure improve safety and effectiveness lack data. The same thing is happening in the diet world where if RD’s get their way CF will have to eliminate the diet portion of their training unless they hire an RD to deliver it. However, despite my disdain with licensure laws, its probably going to happen in the fitness industry.

  7. “Ryan, choosing your rehabilitation specialists, hairdressers, plumbers, and fitness trainers based on their credentials and experience is and should be your personal choice. This can be easily accomplished through you researching your local options.”

    Um, ok. Thanks for the advice.

    • You originally asked why personal trainers shouldn’t be licensed. It seems that your reasoning is that you would rather have one with certain credentials. My point is that this choice is available to you now. No regulation necessary.

      • Sorry, but I do not see the relationship between licensing personal trainers and limiting available choices to me now or at any point. Supply and demand determine availability. My theory is, which is modeled on the current health care provider, if a health and/or fitness consumer demands a credentialed professional that can be reimbursed by a third party payer and is covered by some type of liability insurance personal trainers can set themselves up to supply this demand. I’m advocating for the personal trainer but doing it out of your garage using the internet (your example) is not exactly cutting edge or pushing the boundaries of what could be.

      • Russ Greene

        Ryan,

        Do you understand that the licensure laws all ban unlicensed personal trainers from practicing personal training?

        If so, do you understand how banning CrossFit L3 certified trainers from teaching people how to squat, unless they get an ACSM or NSCA certification, limits available choices?

      • Russ,

        I do understand how the licensure thing works, I’ve got one that was issued to me by Texas in health care. I’m not going to debate you on which of the credentialing organizations is the best, that is for you and your fitness counter parts. The shear number of credentials being the issue.

  8. Right now, cosmetology has more regulation than personal training. That in itself should be a strong implication for our need of licensure in exercise. Licensure may even provide a better grounds for insurance to come into play for personal trainers. If insurance came into the picture, then personal trainers would definitely gain more clients while potentially making more money per client. Also, these clients would pay less for training because the insurance could drastically reduce the price. This would definitely have an effect on bringing people to the gym and helping reduce the obesity crisis in the US. I am 100% for licensure and, if you’re not, then you’re probably too lazy to care for your clients and societal health and should not be in the field. Licensure will bring forward a higher expectation in personal trainers and we can reduce injury by a drastic rate, especially if licensure were to mandate a college degree in a kinesiology-based program (i.e. Exercise Science, Kinesiology, Sports Medicine, etc.) These degrees have an EXTENSIVE background in the physiology of exercise, the future outcomes of health, how to treat clients with various disease states, and really know their stuff. If you are a CROSSFITTER, my suggestion is to get the licensure and then continue training in crossfit. There are some really great crossfit gyms out there that focus on long term health and not reaching the point of exhaustion, but there are countless other gyms with owners who know little about how the body works, especially in longevity, and seem to trophy rhabdomyolysis and injury. Licensure would even help weed out the “bad” crossfit gyms and allow for the “good” gyms to make more money and grow in clientele.

    When you train someone, you are completely altering their body make up. Here’s a better question: Why doesn’t our field already have licensure? And as a comparison, do you think it would make sense for teaching to be unregulated? Medicine? Psychology? Law? Dentistry? Accounting? Engineering? Architecture?

    You’re probably thinking, well those are more intensive and you really have to know your stuff to do it so it’s apples and oranges. But do you know what else requires licensure? Being a make-up artist, a security guard, an auctioneer, a residential painting contractor, an interior designer, a travel agent, a salon “shampooer”, home entertainment installer, and the list goes on and on!

    My suggestion that is if you help people do something to their body, there needs to be some sort of regulation to prevent injury. Why is it that working on a house requires licensure but working on someone’s body doesn’t?

    Licensure would open so many doors for personal trainers that are truly passionate about the field. I am 100% for this and you should be too. It will make you more money.

    This article trying to put down ACSM and NASM is a joke. First off, the sponsorship that they mention is actually from their use of Gatorade, not cola. Second, ACSM and NASM are the leading research entities in fitness and do an amazing job conveying true health to the public based on current research (don’t believe me, go check out scientific journal articles NOT blogs). Third, even if you’re a crossfitter you should check out the actual ACSM study that people in this comment section are bringing up. You’ll find that it isn’t biased against all of crossfit, it’s talking about in general overtraining. If you have a background in exercise physiology you’ll understand the effects of overtraining and how harmful it is, it’s no surprise.

    My main suggestion, though, is to examine research on your own. DO NOT go to blogs to form an opinion. Go to the legitimate research and form your own opinion based off of it. It’s very hard to separate yourself from health beliefs you have, but if there’s scientific research describing every detail of a study then why would you avoid that information and base your opinion off of someone else? It’s unoriginal.

    Message to the author: For an effective article, you need to present information from an unbiased perspective. Right now, you go against your mission of: “Defending the brand from junk science, yellow journalism, and invincible ignorance”. Good articles provide readers with each view, whether the author agrees with them or not. You should trust the reader enough to form an opinion based off of honest facts you’ve found with cited studies and links. Instead, I have found your statements to be exactly what you don’t want it to be: “junk science,” “100% yellow journalism,” and ignorant.

    • Russ Greene

      “Right now, cosmetology has more regulation than personal training. That in itself should be a strong implication for our need of licensure in exercise. “

      Your unsupported assumption is that cosmetology licensure is effective at improving quality of service. Do you have any evidence of that? The Kleiner article I cited above disproved this idea effectively above: http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/regulation/2006/10/v29n3-2.pdf

      “Licensure may even provide a better grounds for insurance to come into play for personal trainers. If insurance came into the picture, then personal trainers would definitely gain more clients while potentially making more money per client. Also, these clients would pay less for training because the insurance could drastically reduce the price.”

      Your unsupported assumption is that health insurance billing requires lincensure. It does not. On the contrary, the state could simply create a registry of licensed medically-approved trainers for health care providers to accept. This would not require throwing unlicensed personal trainers in jail for teaching people how to squat.

      “This would definitely have an effect on bringing people to the gym and helping reduce the obesity crisis in the US. I am 100% for licensure and, if you’re not, then you’re probably too lazy to care for your clients and societal health and should not be in the field. Licensure will bring forward a higher expectation in personal trainers and we can reduce injury by a drastic rate, especially if licensure were to mandate a college degree in a kinesiology-based program (i.e. Exercise Science, Kinesiology, Sports Medicine, etc.)”

      Your unsupported assumption is that it’s easier to achieve a CrossFit L3 certification than an ACSM training certification. Unlike the ACSM cert, CrossFit’s L3 requires hours of practical experience. Unlike the ACSM cert, CrossFit’s L3 provides hours of hands-on instruction.

      Your unsupported assumption is that college degrees in Exercise Science will teach trainers how to coach better and thus reduce injuries. Unfortunately Exercise Science programs rarely include any practical components that improve coaching ability. David Barnett has a 4 year degree in Exercise Science and he said he didn’t even know how to pick a bar off the ground until he went to a CrossFit gym. His article is coming up on the blog.

      “These degrees have an EXTENSIVE background in the physiology of exercise, the future outcomes of health, how to treat clients with various disease states, and really know their stuff. If you are a CROSSFITTER, my suggestion is to get the licensure and then continue training in crossfit. There are some really great crossfit gyms out there that focus on long term health and not reaching the point of exhaustion, but there are countless other gyms with owners who know little about how the body works, especially in longevity, and seem to trophy rhabdomyolysis and injury. Licensure would even help weed out the ‘bad’ crossfit gyms and allow for the ‘good’ gyms to make more money and grow in clientele.”

      You recommend that trainers get the government-favored certifications, then continue training their clients in the same program they would any way. How is this an effective use of their time?

      The ACSM itself has recommended that strength and conditioning coaches learn about rhabdomyolysis awareness from CrossFit. CrossFit coaches know much more about rhabdo prevention than other trainers.

      “When you train someone, you are completely altering their body make up. Here’s a better question: Why doesn’t our field already have licensure? And as a comparison, do you think it would make sense for teaching to be unregulated? Medicine? Psychology? Law? Dentistry? Accounting? Engineering? Architecture?”

      I do not think that Fitness companies can effectively regulate the fitness industry. And Obama and the FTC agree. They are suing the North Carolina board of fitness examiners on a directly analogous basis. I recommend you study that case.

      Do you think that the NSCA, despite not being able to identify a parallel squat, deserves government-favored authority status in fitness? On what basis?

      And, if market participants are not qualified to regulate their own industry, who is? Got any ideas?

      “You’re probably thinking, well those are more intensive and you really have to know your stuff to do it so it’s apples and oranges. But do you know what else requires licensure? Being a make-up artist, a security guard, an auctioneer, a residential painting contractor, an interior designer, a travel agent, a salon ‘shampooer’, home entertainment installer, and the list goes on and on!”

      Yes, and Kleiner estimates that those unnecessary licensure laws have cost the US 2.85 million jobs. Do you have any evidence that licensure’s benefits outweigh this cost, alone?

      “My suggestion that is if you help people do something to their body, there needs to be some sort of regulation to prevent injury. Why is it that working on a house requires licensure but working on someone’s body doesn’t?
      Licensure would open so many doors for personal trainers that are truly passionate about the field. I am 100% for this and you should be too. It will make you more money.
      This article trying to put down ACSM and NASM is a joke. First off, the sponsorship that they mention is actually from their use of Gatorade, not cola. Second, ACSM and NASM are the leading research entities in fitness and do an amazing job conveying true health to the public based on current research (don’t believe me, go check out scientific journal articles NOT blogs). Third, even if you’re a crossfitter you should check out the actual ACSM study that people in this comment section are bringing up. You’ll find that it isn’t biased against all of crossfit, it’s talking about in general overtraining. If you have a background in exercise physiology you’ll understand the effects of overtraining and how harmful it is, it’s no surprise.”

      Gatorade is fully owned by Pepsi. Therefore Pepsi is the largest sponsor of the ACSM and NSCA. This is publicly available information.

      What ACSM “study” are you citing?

      “My main suggestion, though, is to examine research on your own. DO NOT go to blogs to form an opinion. Go to the legitimate research and form your own opinion based off of it. It’s very hard to separate yourself from health beliefs you have, but if there’s scientific research describing every detail of a study then why would you avoid that information and base your opinion off of someone else? It’s unoriginal.
      Message to the author: For an effective article, you need to present information from an unbiased perspective. Right now, you go against your mission of: ‘Defending the brand from junk science, yellow journalism, and invincible ignorance’. Good articles provide readers with each view, whether the author agrees with them or not. You should trust the reader enough to form an opinion based off of honest facts you’ve found with cited studies and links. Instead, I have found your statements to be exactly what you don’t want it to be: ‘junk science,’ ‘100% yellow journalism,’ and ignorant.”

      What published studies do you have that suggest a higher rate of injury in CrossFit than in other training programs? There are none.

      What published studies do you have that support your idea that trainers with NCCA accredited certifications are more effective or safer than trainers with ANSI-accredited courses? There are none.

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  10. “Your unsupported assumption is that cosmetology licensure is effective at improving quality of service. Do you have any evidence of that? The Kleiner article I cited above disproved this idea effectively above: http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/regulation/2006/10/v29n3-2.pdf

    The evidence is that cosmetologists have to go through educational programs on cosmetology training and put in (in some states) upwards of a thousand hours worth of training, usually obtained from a specified associates degree at a community college. After you pass all of the approved training, you take the licensure exam and then can have to continually renew the license every couple of years. After going through theoretical studies and applied practice from their associates degree in cosmetology, they would definitely have an increase in quality. Plus they have to then pass an examine that makes sure they have the proper quality. I think that just knowledge of how a cosmetologist becomes a licensed cosmetologist is evidence enough. Also, did you read your article? It specifically says from the get go “Occupational regulation has grown because it serves the interests of those in the occupation as well as government. Members of an occupation benefit if they can increase the perception of quality and thus the demand for their services, while
    restricting supply simultaneously.” Yes, at another point it states that “For occupations regulated in some U.S.
    states and not in others — such as librarians, respiratory therapists, and dietitians and nutritionists — employment growth
    was about 20 percent greater in unregulated states from 1990 to 2000, using estimates derived from census data.” BUT when it comes to an increase in quality or a mandated “par” amongst a set of data, certain standard deviations negative to the mean will disappear from the field because their quality is simply not good enough or breaks the rules or those lower percentile numbers are people who are not willing to put in the time or other variables.

    “Your unsupported assumption is that health insurance billing requires lincensure. It does not. On the contrary, the state could simply create a registry of licensed medically-approved trainers for health care providers to accept. This would not require throwing unlicensed personal trainers in jail for teaching people how to squat.”

    Obviously it does not, but personal training needs to be considered part of the health field and a way to enhance someone’s quality of life. Similar to how some insurance works with registered dietitians, personal training needs to be considered a “preventative measure” of sorts that can keep individuals from going to the doctor for various disease states like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or hypertension. A lot of this comes from insurance company faith in the occupations that they will cover. A licensure (as noted in my previous response) is meant to be a means of a quality standard. This quality standard could help insurance companies have more faith in personal trainers as a whole and allow for greater numbers of the population to get the physical activity they need. Especially with the Affordable Care Act, the access for the poor CAN be there. It’s not yet, but I think that a licensure could help that.

    “Your unsupported assumption is that it’s easier to achieve a CrossFit L3 certification than an ACSM training certification. Unlike the ACSM cert, CrossFit’s L3 requires hours of practical experience. Unlike the ACSM cert, CrossFit’s L3 provides hours of hands-on instruction. Your unsupported assumption is that college degrees in Exercise Science will teach trainers how to coach better and thus reduce injuries. Unfortunately Exercise Science programs rarely include any practical components that improve coaching ability. David Barnett has a 4 year degree in Exercise Science and he said he didn’t even know how to pick a bar off the ground until he went to a CrossFit gym. His article is coming up on the blog.”

    I actually did not say that? I actually think that the ACSM CPT is too broad for weight training, but does provide knowledge I think that every personal trainer should know for the health of their clientele. Hours of hands on instruction is great but are you being taught about the health implications of the work out and what will ultimately happen. The chances are slim because crossfit is focused on rapid individual change and HIIT. There still has not been enough research done on the modern techniques Crossfit programs tend to use. Personally, I went to be able to lift my arms above my head when I’m 50 so I maintain proper form and avoid unnecessary pressure on my AC joint (things that snatches, jerks, etc. use). These exercises may be great for a professional athlete that needs to build those specific muscles for their event, but not for just any person in the general public. Every individual is an individual and should have a designed work out to meet their needs. (Like I said, I’m sure you won’t agree so to each their own… but I won’t have shoulder, lower back, and knee pain when I’m older.)

    “Your unsupported assumption is that college degrees in Exercise Science will teach trainers how to coach better and thus reduce injuries. Unfortunately Exercise Science programs rarely include any practical components that improve coaching ability. David Barnett has a 4 year degree in Exercise Science and he said he didn’t even know how to pick a bar off the ground until he went to a CrossFit gym. His article is coming up on the blog.”

    A college degree in Exercise Science doesn’t teach someone how to coach, it teaches them the knowledge and skills to assess, educate, counsel and prescribe appropriate exercise programs for apparently health individuals and those individuals with controlled cardiac, metabolic or pulmonary disease. Being a previous exercise science degree major, I have had exercise programs drilled almost constantly into my head. The programs range from NASM recommendations to ACSM recommendations to Crossfit techniques (which even you will admit are totally different from gym to gym) to HIIT to Aerobic exercise plans to countless other types of programs. David Barnett either told a lie or did not pay attention to a good 4 or 5 classes or his program must have been on specific populations. He should have left college understanding how to prescribe a program to any individual of any background. So, I’m sorry he didn’t? The barbell is a tool, not the only weapon. A personal trainer should know how to use a wide range of tools to help their client. A client may not gain the benefit of a barbell and may have better results on a Cybex machine. Or, a Cybex machine and a barbell may not work for a client due to a certain angling of the machine and the load of the bar on certain joints, so a Keiser machine may be a better choice for that client. I think that a personal trainer should know these and should be able to operate in any setting, whether its a Crossfit gym, a YMCA, a Gold’s Gym, or a backyard with no tools but the client’s bodyweight. Regardless, maybe an exercise science degree could be overkill and take away the jobs of too many personal trainers. I still believe that there needs to be some sort of education to provide a quality standard (via licensure).

    “You recommend that trainers get the government-favored certifications, then continue training their clients in the same program they would any way. How is this an effective use of their time?”

    I think that if a trainer gained a government-favored certification that they may become more immersed in the infinite field of sports medicine and understand the possibilities of furthering their knowledge. I can argue that gaining more certifications is not a waste of a personal trainers time, because no work out is perfect. And a personal trainer must continue enhancing their knowledge from everywhere to be an effective trainer. If you stop and claim “this is it, my routine is perfect and works for every individual” then it will fall apart. Look to Insanity, P90X, Kickboxing, Spinning, etc. I think that trying to say gaining further knowledge in something is a waste of time is especially selfish for the clientele. If you already know the material and must wake up early one morning to take an exam proving it (which would only give you more credibility in the field), then why would the personal trainer be against it?

    “I do not think that Fitness companies can effectively regulate the fitness industry. And Obama and the FTC agree. They are suing the North Carolina board of fitness examiners on a directly analogous basis. I recommend you study that case. Do you think that the NSCA, despite not being able to identify a parallel squat, deserves government-favored authority status in fitness? On what basis? And, if market participants are not qualified to regulate their own industry, who is? Got any ideas?”

    I couldn’t find the case nor have I heard of it, but I’d love to read it! Can you find a link? Here’s a link to Brad Schoenfield discussing proper squats: http://www.nsca.com/videos/conference_lectures/the_science_of_squatting/ As you can tell after a couple of minutes, he supports deep knee bends IN SOME CASES. However, all exercises have varying forms depending on the biomechanics of the individual. Length of bones and muscles have an effect on the form, so one individual may do an exercise slightly differently from the next-a personal trainer should be able to identify this, and the CSCS actually involves form and posture which you learn while studying for it. I don’t feel comfortable with saying that one specific entity should be the authority, but rather there should be a council of associations that can collectively define the requirements. Obviously that would be tough to do, but why can’t it be done? The affordable care act was done and that wasn’t easy. Licensure for personal training would be a huge benefit for the personal trainer and client, both in money and proper care.

    “Yes, and Kleiner estimates that those unnecessary licensure laws have cost the US 2.85 million jobs. Do you have any evidence that licensure’s benefits outweigh this cost, alone?”

    I think that it would depend on the circumstance. I definitely think that quality outweighs poor quality, and if personal trainers can not meet quality standards, why should they be able to be a personal trainer? Just to have a job? Personal training should be better regarded and stifling it only lowers the quality. With proper personal training, we could increase life expectancy and make all of those health care dollars pay off. We’re already paying about $7,500 per an individual which is about double that of Japan (who has a life expectancy of about 5 years longer and spends half what we do).

    “Gatorade is fully owned by Pepsi. Therefore Pepsi is the largest sponsor of the ACSM and NSCA. This is publicly available information.”

    Right. My point is that the article’s author was deranging the legitimacy of the ACSM in the way he presented it. Any normal reader would go, “Oh wow ACSM and NSCA support drinking cola. And I know that’s not healthy.” They don’t look into it and see why.

    “What published studies do you have that suggest a higher rate of injury in CrossFit than in other training programs? There are none. What published studies do you have that support your idea that trainers with NCCA accredited certifications are more effective or safer than trainers with ANSI-accredited courses? There are none.”

    I did not say that Crossfit had a higher rate of injury than any other training program. It does have similar rates of injury statistically as Olympic Weightlifting from one set of research found… In it, 73.5% had suffered an injury… And 3.1 injuries per 1000 hours
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24276294
    Honestly, there just hasn’t been enough research done on Crossfit. I can agree with you, there should be more done. I do know that accredited certifications require a broad base of knowledge that translates into probably any type of exercise program.
    Anyways, I hope I answered your objections to my stands! I’m not trying to put down Crossfit or any credentials. I’m sure we can both admit that not every Crossfit gym is a good one, though there are some great ones. There are definitely great personal trainers out there, but there are also bad personal trainers. I still stand that a licensure would help the field gain more legitimacy, especially in healthcare (where it desperately needs to be considered as an intervention like physical therapy, athletic training, occupational therapy, etc.)

  11. Pingback: Friday Reading Round Up - January 30th 2015 - Strategic Athlete

  12. Pingback: Personal Training Licensure » North East CrossFit

  13. Pingback: Licensure: Rise Up! by Chris Cooper | THE RUSSELLS

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  15. Pingback: Should Personal Trainers Be Licensed? – Be Well. Be Fit. Live Life.

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