At one time, only celebrities, athletes and the wealthy could afford to work one-on-one with a coach or personal trainer. Now, personal trainers are embedded into nearly every health club, covering every price point and offering fitness advice via every form of consumer media.
Although the industry has evolved over the past 50 years, one thing has remained constant: its lack of regulation when it comes to personal trainers.
Since the 1980s, a number of states have tried to pass licensure and registration bills in an effort to regulate the industry. So far, the only area in the country that has come close is Washington, D.C. The District of Columbia adopted the Omnibus Health Regulation Amendment Act of 2013, which requires all local personal trainers to register with the mayor’s office. Other states, including Florida and Massachusetts, have continued to propose laws to license or regulate personal trainers with no success.
According to Kevin Steele, president of Personal Training Academy Global (PTA Global) and Personal Training on the Net (PTontheNet), a key reason why licensure has never passed is the cost that club owners would have to incur. Once licensed, trainers would be able to command a higher wage, which would present club owners with a major dilemma: “You’re either going to have to cut some of your staff to accommodate higher wages for licensed professionals, or you’re going to have to raise your prices and pass that along to your members,” Steele said. “Neither one of those answers is right or good for the club owner, and hence one of the main reasons licensure has never passed.”