Practical Training and Testing: Is It Necessary?

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Blog #6

Practical Training and Testing: Is It Necessary?

I have been talking about practical training and testing for fitness professionals of late. I think the issue is important. So do a lot of fitness experts like Anthony A. Abbott, EdD, a Florida based exercise physiologist who is a frequent expert witness in fitness litigation. In this regard, he has stated:

…just because one is certified does not necessarily equate with his or her being qualified. To become a truly qualified personal trainer requires an in-depth knowledge of anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics and principles of exercise science coupled with considerable hands-on training.[1]

JoAnn M. Eickhoff-Shemek, Ph.D., FACSM, a well-known fitness educator and fitness risk management expert has also stated:

Most individuals that become CPTs prepare for the certification exams by reading recommended resources, attending workshops, or participating in online programs. It is the opinion of this commentator that this is not nearly enough. Formal education along with supervised practical experience is needed to prepare personal trainers for all tasks they perform, not just fitness testing. Currently, none of the NCCA accredited certifying organizations require completion of any formal education or evaluation of practical skills prior to sitting for their CPT exams. In addition, none of the standards in the NCCA’s Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs require candidates to possess any formal education or practical experience prior to sitting for an NCCA accredited exam.[2]

It appears that only one DEAC or NCCA accredited fitness professional certifier, the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), is including practical, hands-on training and testing in its program leading to personal trainer/group exercise certifications.[3] AFAA in fact is accredited by two different accreditors, one for its educational program and one for its practical hands-on and written testing program leading to its certification.[4] Many other fitness professional certification organizations have decided not to do hands-on, practical testing for those fitness professionals they certify because some believe the process is potentially biased and too costly.[5] At the same time, some such certifiers are calling for the integration of certified fitness professionals into the health care system in this country.[6] However, health care providers are required to undergo hands-on training and testing as part of their entry into the health care system in this country.

If such fitness professionals as personal trainers truly are to be blended into the health care system, don’t they need to follow such a practical, hands-on training and testing processes? After all, who would undergo surgery performed by a physician who had no such practical hands-on training/testing to perform surgical procedures? Who would even get into a car with a driver who had never gotten behind the wheel of a car or had never undergone a hands-on driving test but had only passed a written test to drive?

Aside from the obvious issues presented in the foregoing discussion, it also remains to be seen if fitness personnel like personal trainers, who do not undergo a practical, hands-on evaluation of their prescription, leadership and supervisory skills will create greater liability for health and fitness facilities who employ or utilize them in their facilities. What do you think?

[1] Abbott, A.A., Ed.D., FACSM, FNSCA, “Fitness Professionals: Certified, Qualified and Justified”, THE EXERCISE STANDARDS AND MALPRACTICE REPORTER, Vol. 23, No. 2 (March, 2009): 17, 20-22.

[2] Eickhoff-Shemek, J.M., Ph.D., FACSM, “Potential Issues with the Job Task Analysis”, THE EXERCISE, SPORTS AND SPORTS MEDICINE STANDARDS & MALPRACTICE REPORTER, Vol. 2, No. 4 (July, 2013):54-57. Footnote in original omitted.

[3]Herbert, D.L., “ Isn’t it Time for Education & Evaluation of Hands-on Competence in Personal Training? A Call for Dual Accreditation of U.S. Fitness Professional Certification Programs,” AMERICAN FITNESS, Vol. 32, No. 4: (July/August 2014):38-42.

[4] Id.

[5] See, “Hands on Testing,” , dated May 9, 2011.

[6] Id.

#practicaltraining #practicaltesting

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