Should Personal Trainers Be Licensed?

Some people have been injured by personal trainers.

Some people have been helped by personal trainers.

There’s a big gap between the skill level of trainers and there are some with very high level certifications that frequently hurt their clients. Similarly, there are trainers with very low level certifications who know the body very well. All of this raises the question, “Should personal training be regulated by a state license program?”

After all, state licensure is being pushed by the medically driven, ACSM and the NSCA so wouldn’t it ensure that personal trainers have strict guidelines to follow, thus provide perfect training for every client? Wouldn’t it mean that the very best science is being used to promote the very highest quality training? Shouldn’t we rely on the United States governing medical organizations for the best up-to-date information? Shouldn’t those we aren’t licensed be punished for giving advice contrary to the Doctors?

In my opinion, the answer is no. 

…and it is a very strong opinion.

Here’s the deal.

I was once entrenched in a one-thought, medically bound doctor and science mentality. I was a hard convert in to the idea of free-thinking and individualism for alternative health professionals. You see, personal trainers who purely seek to make people stronger are simply personal trainers. But those of us who seek to aid with nutrition, strength training, flexibility to increase quality of life cease to simply be trainers and become Alternative Health Specialists. I worked in cardiology for three years, physical therapy for three years, have a degree in preventative medicine …..I used to push/drink the medical kool-aid. However, after seeing the kool-aid’s lack of results, I began to research on my own and change my tune.

…and I have been very successful with it…

I can only begin to count the amount of clients I’ve been able to help with chronic pain, debilitating arthritis, “chronic” conditions with blood sugar and cholesterol, depression, addictions, etc. by betraying the medically sound chains I cut my teeth on. It’s part of the beauty of being an Alternative Health Specialist. I get to use tools from every train of thought to create what I feel helps my clients best.

I was angry when I found out that much of my college education on nutrition wasn’t adequately backed by studies. In fact, I found that most of what I had been taught was actually contrary to peer-reviewed studies. I was confused as I bounced through several training organizations and found that NONE of them held the perfect solution. I continue to be upset at the way big companies have the power to sway health organizations based on their money.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Alternative Health is an art and a science. My experience has been that licensing doesn’t make a program more sound or less individualized. Licensing alternative health fields simply leads to a program that’s been individualized to a single train of thought, which is ultimately based on a single people group.

Lets keep alternative health programs alone and leave the licensure to the doctors

CLICK HERE to read the original article that inspired this post.

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2 thoughts on “Should Personal Trainers Be Licensed?

  1. I have to disagree with your article. I was hurt working with a bad personal trainer. He held a training certificate but let it lapse. I have a permanent injury from working with him. I was 100lbs overweight, never worked out before and needed help. He was hired by a gym, apparently passed the back ground check and had a personal training certificate. At first, things were good. He left the gym to start his own training business. At that point we started lifting weights and this is when the problems started. He did not teach good form or technique, walked away during my workouts, was always on his cell phone, trained hung over or intoxicated. When I went to him with concerns, he called me “Untrainable” he was angry and aggressive. My injuries have cost me thousands of dollars in medical bills. At this point I have hired any attorney. With out any regulations, who is going to hold bad personal trainers responsible? What if I sue and don’t win? I will have thousands of dollars in legal fees on top of medical bills. This guy will continue to train until someone dies, with no accountability for his actions.. If you feel strongly about no licensing, I suggest that the next time you get your hair cut, teeth cleaned, a message, your wife gets a pedicure, you buy a hours, you book a vacation with a travel agent, or hire a security guard, pick one that does not have a license. Passing a bill to require a personal trainer is licensed, will protect the public and the good personal trainers.

    • Hi Debbie,

      I can definitely understand where you’re coming from.

      If we could pull back just a little bit from licensure to certification, let me ask you this.

      If a physician, dental hygienist, cosmetologist or travel agent let their licensure lapse and opened their own side practice in a separate building, would you still work with them?

      Or if any of the professionals I listed above did not use good technique, were always on their cell phone or worked on you hung over or intoxicated; would you continue to stay under their care?

      Does a license mean anything if the individual with the license lets it expire and clients continue to work with them?

      I’m sorry for your situation but I think there were lots of red flags with the individual that should have been indicators for you to go elsewhere. Also seems like they were red flags that would’ve popped up regardless of whether or not personal trainers were required to be licensed.

      I would love to hear your thoughts on this

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