• 11Nov

    Reinventing The Wheel Part 2

    So yesterday I began telling you about the similarities of last week's announcement from UKActive and what we were trying to do in the Exercise Association.


    Fiona believes that “part of the problem that we had to tackle back then was the level of training of the fitness trainers. Frankly the training of many is not up to any standard that you could let them loose on people with obesity, back problems, cardiac problems, etc etc. We were striving to get the standard and qualifications structure and Register of Exercise Professionals integrated so that you could tell easily who had the requisite training. Sadly we failed.”


    Fiona you didn’t fail, the rug got yanked from under your feet and the register was stolen before the systems you wanted to implement could be completed. And guess what? The systems still need to be put in place.


    “There’s a new organisation playing for this”


     Debbie says


    “But personally, I am wary, as the focus is very much on employers wants and commercial drive, which was the same as the predecessor, in my naiveté”


    Fiona continues “That is what wrecked REPs Debbie. The employers didn’t have a vested interest in standards but only in profit and didn’t want to pay more for highly qualified staff, hence GP’s didn’t feel safe to refer based on REPs”


    So 20 years on and how many of you health, fitness and wellness people agree with what Fiona and Debbie are currently saying?


    There are more qualified level 3 personal trainers in the UK than there are qualified Doctors and nurses and they do not have a collective voice that talks to the media and explodes such myths as Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills) who on a recent BBC Question Time said the reason he is overweight is due to genetics.


    Or a collective voice that challenges the food industry, the fashion industry's needs to have stick thin models or challenge studies concerning health and fitness


    “Well”, Debbie said, “it looks like the same wheel is being reinvented then!”


    Under its current guise REPs provides assurance and confidence to the public and employers that all professionals on the Register are appropriately qualified and have the knowledge, competence and skills to perform their role effectively.


    REPs was developed to protect the public from ‘cowboy trainers’ who do not hold appropriate qualifications. As well as protecting the public, REPs was also established to recognise the qualifications and skills of exercise professionals.


    But I know of many Personal Trainers who believe that REPs is not fit for purpose. One of the biggest sticking points is that the current custodians of REPs refuses to move in step with the rest of the world when it comes to dealing with nutrition. They refuse to change from a pyramid system to a more understandable plate system.


    You can also have a nutrition qualification (which the trainer has to pay an external company to be trained) but advises you not to implement it because you are not a registered dietician!


    There is no protection for the Personal Trainers from unscrupulous companies who poorly pay them to work on their behalf, quite often it works out at minimum wage and no security.


    Don’t get me wrong, this new initiative from UKActive (which I believe came about due to a conversation in the Personal Trainers Unite forum in Facebook last year) can work but it needs a Health-Related Fitness Professionals Association to connect the dots.


    One that knows how to speak to the Health and Wellbeing Boards (including NHS and GPs) otherwise you will end up with more people who do not have the requisite qualifications giving free bootcamps in order to sell meal replacement shakes.


    One that is not shackled by financial restraints and commercial drive.


    One that makes sure that when a GP sends someone with a cardiac problem to a trainer they can be assured that that trainer doesn’t “beast” the patient into the ground. Or something similar to the Specsavers advert that always makes me laugh.


    And one that protects Personal Trainers as well.


    There is no need to reinvent the wheel – Just put a fresh set of treads on it!