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Wow, they actually produced something I care about!

I was shocked. Really shocked – The Daily Mail actually published something that didn’t make me pass out from an anger stroke…

    I can’t stand the Daily Mail. Actually, I don’t really like the mass media full stop, but I find their particular brand of scare-mongering the most nauseating. There are only so many pointless warnings and government-slating headlines you can read before you wonder if they actually have anything relevant or useful to say.
    The Mail does have its plus points though. It has Jonathon Cainer, the astrologist. I am not big on astrology; I just read his forecasts the following day to see how accurate he was. Usually they are so generic that you can find truth in them. Still, I like him. They also produce the Daddy of all TV guides. The fact that I have Sky Digital at home and use the installed TV guide, rendering the Mail’s version obsolete (to me, anyway) makes it no less impressive.
    To be perfectly honest, I find it baffling that my old man reads it- to my knowledge he isn’t even a Tory. I have tried all kinds of techniques to get him to stop buying it, ranging from pointing out the bullshit they spout to a full-blown tantrum, but nothing works. On this occasion, I am glad he continues to waste money on the rag, as it gave me a chance to air my thoughts on a topic that affects the industry I work in.
    Not long ago, a friend (who also works in the industry) and I were discussing the standard of qualification in the fitness industry, and the lack of differentiation between those who have well-recognised credentials and those who have only a few weeks training behind them. Having spent 3 years in university studying the human body, its responses to exercise and applying theory to real-life subjects, it is frustrating that according to industry records I am only at the same level of knowledge as a person who has graduated from a generic training course following only 12 weeks of study. It doesn’t make sense.
    I thought this was an issue only visible to an enlightened few in the fitness industry, yet I was informed of a Daily Mail article on the subject. After work that night, I went home to look at the article.
    Without quoting it directly (I don’t want to get involved with copyright issues etc), the article explained that there is an industry qualification body known as REPs (Register of Exercise Professionals) who award members a level grade depending on their knowledge and experience. Level 1 (the lowest level) is awarded to fitness instructors and people who have a very basic qualification. Level 2 is awarded to those who have slightly more certification and experience. The top level, level 3 is awarded to those who have a relevant degree or an industry-recognised Personal Training certificate.
    Now, here is the issue. The guidelines are not clear enough, so a Personal Trainer who has recently graduated from a relevant short term course is immediately awarded the current highest level of industry decoration. Let me put this into perspective- an exercise practitioner could have spent 3 years doing a degree, a further year completing a master’s degree and then another 3 years working towards a PhD. He would have been studying his subject almost daily for 7 YEARS to the highest level possible, yet he would still only be level 3 on the REPs scheme. Meanwhile, a person could one day decide they fancied working as a Personal Trainer, sign up to a Personal Training course (they are in any fitness magazine), spend 12 weeks learning the very basics and upon graduation be eligible for REPs level 3 also.
    If graduates of these generic training programmes can be awarded Level 3 status, then I propose there should be another 2 levels, taking us up to level 5. Level 4 would be for graduates of the short term courses who have displayed a portfolio of work to a suitable standard. Level 5 would be for practitioners who have completed a relevant degree and displayed suitable professional application of their knowledge. I think it is important that anyone has evidence of relevant vocational application of theoretical skills, as just because a person has a degree, it doesn’t mean they are good.
    I don’t really think we take the responsibility a Personal Trainer has seriously enough. When a Personal Trainer is hired, they are effectively taking control over a client’s health and wellbeing during the sessions. As we all know, exercise conditions aren’t normal for the body, so the likelihood of health problems are higher than usual. If we have under-qualified practitioners finding themselves in situations they have not been taught how to handle, it will leave a big dent in the credibility of the fitness industry.
    To further highlight the problem, bear in mind ANYONE can set themselves up as a Personal Trainer and charge money from clients. There is no legal requirement for Personal Trainers or even gym staff to hold an exercise qualification. Personally, I find this more than shocking. There may be people out there who don’t have the first idea of safe and effective exercise, charging money from clients for help with training. It is something that has to be addressed before it turns against us. All it will take is one high profile court case against poor practice leading to injury, or at worst, death and we will have a major battle for credibility on our hands.
    I am not blaming REPS for the flaws in the system, as I understand they are making changes to the current grading levels. Whether or not these either go ahead or be sufficient to make a significant change is yet to be seen. At least it is a step in the right direction.
    In the meantime, if you are a Personal Trainer, be sure to have evidence of your qualifications, and if you are thinking of hiring one, meet possible candidates and have them prove their credentials to you. Don’t settle for any old chump- its your health and your money, make sure you are satisfied.
    If these fail, give me a call!

2 Responses

  1. Not sure why you are not blaming REPs – it’s totally their responsibility and I’m glad they are sorting it out, as you say. Level 3 is a joke for anyone who knows/cares and I would not hire anyone on the basis of this qualification unless I knew more about what they had done to qualify.

  2. The reason I am not blaming REPs (yet) is they can only work within certain guidelines, and they are seeking to change these. If the changes are not successful, they may be in my firing line!

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