Recently, I was sent a Facebook photo of a person doing bicep curls and standing on a BOSU ball while wearing ankle weights. The training session posted included five tabata rounds using "kettle weights." Sigh. I could write an entire blog on the utter ineffectiveness of this workout -- oh, and the term is "kettlebell."
Fitness trainers, coaches and instructors are the front line in the health industry for preventative care. There is more ability in the health industry to change the population for the better than in any other aspect of health care. Yet, it is the wild west of the health care world. The truth is that the human body is intricately complex. It has been studied for centuries in microscopic detail and we still learn new things everyday -- we still don't understand everything about how the body works and functions!
Fitness is NOT as simple as doing some exercises and going paleo. If you are going to be a fitness professional, you must be held to a higher standard of accountability. You must be constantly learning and researching. You must be attending professional conferences and clinics. You must be learning from mentors. You must understand the underlying physiology of everything you do and everything you prescribe.
On that note, I will get on the six things that need to change in the fitness industry.
#1 - Thinking You Can Be a Coach Just Because You Got Fit and Work Out
I see this ALL. THE. TIME. Person gets interested in fitness. Joins a gym or fitness program, or maybe competes in a fitness event such as a marathon, triathlon, or physique show. Person then believes they can train other people to do the same thing.
If you want to be a fitness professional, you have to go to the next step. Getting in shape or training is a great starting point, but then you have to start and continue to educate and train yourself. Certifications, mentors, books, conferences, clinics and research are all imperative to becoming a fitness professional. If you are not doing these things on a regular basis (should be monthly at the least), then you ARE NOT a fitness professional. You are a hobbyist and you have no right or authority to be taking other people's health into your hands.
#2 - Thinking You Have to Have a Six- Pack To Be a Fitness Coach
Seriously. This is the most ludicrous argument in the fitness industry today. Your outward appearance is not indicative of your health or your ability to coach others. We are talking about coaching and teaching, not about a person's ability to create a chiseled set of abs for themselves. If you are choosing your fitness professional simply by their physical appearance, I can promise you that you are NOT guaranteed to get a quality provider.
#3 - Fitness Experts Who Don't Actually Coach
You have to be working in the industry to be an expert in it.
This is me, ACTUALLY coaching!
The Internet is rife with "fitness coaches" and "business coaches" who don't actually train anyone or run a business. If you are going to hire a fitness coach, you need to make sure they actually coach people. Do not take advice from anyone who doesn't actually do it for a living.
#4 - The Lack of Regulation
The fitness industry is totally unregulated. Doctors, lawyers, physiotherapists, massage therapists, mechanics, nurses and financial planners all have colleges, associations and regulatory bodies that they must belong to and set standards of education and updated skills.
Anyone can train people. Teach fitness classes. Give out nutrition advice. There is absolutely no protection whatsoever for consumers and the general public to ensure that the person they are hiring and investing their health, their LIVES, in is in any way competent enough to be their coach.
People get fit and then put a squat rack in their basement and start training others. No certs. No mentors. No updated education. They just put them through all the workouts they were put through, because, hey, if it worked for them, it will work for everyone else.
That does not qualify you to be a fitness professional. You have to continue to hone and further your skills. As I have already stated -- education, certification, clinics, courses, conferences. You have to keep learning and make yourself a professional. An inspirational story is just the beginning of that process.
#5 - Critiquing Is Not Bullying
Professional critique is not bullying. It is professional critique. And if you want to be a professional, you must be held accountable to critique from other professionals. THAT is how we maintain a professional standard. We NEED to critique each other and make everyone accountable. And this critique needs to be limited to fitness and must not be personal or attacking a person's character.
#6 - Fitness Needs to Become Professional
The industry needs to change. We need to become a regulated profession. There has to be a set of standards created. There has to be a regulatory body that oversees the entire industry. There has to be a certification process that has a clear path for people to follow in order to obtain the certification. There has to be an education credential that ensures a high standard for fitness professionals.
That is what a professional doe -- they maintain a high standard and ensures that everyone else in their industry also meets that same standard.
MORE ON HUFFPOST: