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Reflections on fitness, wellness, health and more

Will Fitness Australia’s change to the REPS registration system benefit our industry?

The following post was written by author and industry presenter Andrew Verdon.

I was very interested recently to see the release of the new exercise professional registration levels by Fitness Australia (FA). This is to be known as the Exercise Professional Registration System (REPS). Since starting in the industry in 1995 this is the biggest change I have seen to registration and re-registration.

So let’s have a quick overview of the changes. The council has introduced levels of registration (applicable to all) based on education, qualification held and years of registration. This will initially be Provisional, then Introductory, then Intermediate with Advanced being the highest level. A typical Cert 4 grad will come in at intermediate, but will need CECs to progress to Advanced for instance.

CECs will also change, in that you will now need 20 (up from the current level) over a 2-year period. The activities you can obtain CECs from will be expanded to encompass seminars, professional reading, conferences and journal/magazine subscriptions. Another change is the removal of the need to submit evidence of CECs at re-registration. It will now move to an audit system.

Fitness Australia proposes many benefits of these changes, to the fitness professional, to the consumer, to the potential employer and to the health and medical community. It also hopes it will prove a clear path for development and progression and hence improve the professionalism of the industry.

In my opinion this is an excellent development for the personal training industry. As an experienced trainer I think it is great that there is now recognition of differing levels of experience similar to that applied to apprentices and master builders, plumbers and other trades. It shows very clearly to clients or potential clients why one qualified and experienced trainer may charge over $100 per hour while a recent graduate may be closer to $80. It will also help referees from the medical and health community differentiate and find appropriate trainers from the large choice they have to refer to.

As an employer of potential new staff it signals immediately how long and how much effort someone has put into their own professional development. FA believes the reengineered system will ‘foster a culture that strives for the optimal rather than the minimum standard’. I see this attitude a lot across the personal training industry and I wait to see if these changes will cause a cultural shift.

For certain sections of the industry, it will be welcomed as an acknowledgement of their efforts, experience and investment in their own careers. In my team of seven, I have several team members with university degrees, postgraduate qualifications and even masters degrees who have not previously bothered with their FA registration. Instead of being registered on a minimum accepted level with FA, they chose to ignore the FA stream and only register with AAESS. Fitness Australia’s introduction of REPS could open the door to them and make it more attractive for them to register with both bodies. This in turn could create a more cohesive and powerful group, with which the medical and health communities would be more likely to forge strong links.

Will the changes work? I think we can only answer that by this time in 2012. I am keen to see what impact the change has. What do you think?

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Posted by: Anonymous | 03-Dec-2009 06:28 AM | 3 out of 5 stars

No this will not have an impact on anything as people will always go for the cheaper way. I have been a registered personal trainer for the past 6 years and I still see gyms and private clients hiring non registered nor certified personal trainers because they feel this is the cheaper way. In most cases it is the cheaper way not the experience, not the degree, not the registration that counts. (cheaper, cheaper, give me, give me) Sad but that is the plain truth.

Posted by: Mark Richardson | 03-Dec-2009 08:27 AM | 5 out of 5 stars

Anything that regulates an industry that has been (and still is to a certain extent) open to rougue operators is a great thing. How else can the public determine an experienced, multi talented trainer from someone fresh out of an 8 week course with "Personal Trainer" on their shirt? As long as Fitness Australia publicse this system, then it should be a good move.

Posted by: Vanessa | 03-Dec-2009 09:32 AM | 4 out of 5 stars

I think it's definitely a good thing but it perhaps doesn't go far enough. 2 more CECs isn't much but also there should be a grading of course quality in the future. I think there are too many cases of CEC provider courses passing people simply to get money through the door and then become known as a 'passable course' for reregistration.
I also don't really agree that a Cert IV newly qualified trainer is intermediate. Cert IV itself needs a bit of an upgrade - I don't think 8 weeks is enough to then go out and train the general populace whom in my experience come at you with many injuries, complaints and problems. Perhaps there should be an internship period at a gym with experienced instructors? There being another problem around consistency of trainers in gyms and everywhere.

The industry is constantly evolving and this is definitely a step in the right direction. There will always be those that take the easy way around but hopefully as conscientious trainers become more and more skilled they will be easily shown up and have a further developed REPs program to support them.

Posted by: Rachel | 03-Dec-2009 10:25 AM |

There needs to be an upgrade, 8 weeks courses qualifying someone as a Cert IV isn't enough for the varying health concerns trainers are faced with in the fitness industry. I personally have decided to go the AAESS route. I also think a degree and industry experience needs to be taken into account for FA Registration, if someone can be deemed qualified after an 8 week course then a 3 year (or more) university degree should be recognised automatically.

Posted by: Anonymous | 03-Dec-2009 03:36 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

This new system, if introduced could prove to be inequitable for several reasons. It appears that this is yet another example of how education and the money that buys it will be given preference as opposed to experience and or knowledge from that experience. Due to the fact that I dont have a degree, I will be scaled lower, recieve less recognition and therefore earn less money as opposed to those who do. I am confident in my ability to help clients achieve their health & fitness goals based on my experience in personal training. This 7 years experience I believe would put me ahead of many people coming out of university as new trainers.

Posted by: Mandy Reed | 04-Dec-2009 06:23 PM | 4 out of 5 stars

No matter which avenue re-registration takes, you are always going to get the knockers that don't agree. I have been teaching freestyle aerobics in a country town for 20 years. I have gained my appropriate CEC's for re-registration (and believe me, thats hard in the country), I do not have any university degrees, but I have 20 years should count. There will always be the dodgy personal trainers/instructors, it happens in every profession. Its up to the client to obtain authenticity. Don't make it hard for the genuinely dedicated trainers/instructors, weedle out the men from the boys.

Posted by: Anonymous | 04-Dec-2009 07:04 PM |

It seems to me like another FA money grab, to put people who have done an 8 week course on the same level as people who have a degree is a joke. I don't believe the general public will care I have been a trainer for four years and have never once been asked my qualifications by a client. I moved from overseas and Fitness Australia has already down graded my qualification to the equivilant of a cert 4 which is a joke but all they care about is the money and the money they get from the large fitness chains. Apart from insurance I don't believe FA does much for the average trainer except take our money. The cec system is so flawed anyway you could become an advanced trainer by doing cecs on the business of PT how does that help your skills with clients? cecs should be based on science related advances in our industry that are specific to our specialities. If you don't own a large or medium sized gym what has Fitness Australia done for you lately?

Posted by: Clayton | 06-Dec-2009 07:07 PM | 3 out of 5 stars

Some good points here and they all have merit. One thing I don't particularly like however, is writing off any change as hopeless and the attitude that "they are just in it for the money". To me that reeks of a poverty mindset and doesn't contribute value to anyone.

The changes to the CEC's are maintained has to be flexible as so many trainers do their own reading, study, attend courses which aren't necessarily approved by FA but are still very worthy of recognition as it develops the trainer into a better and more knowledgable one.

My experiences with FA have all been good, sure its not perfect but show me a system that is.

Great article and will be interesting to see further outcomes.

Kind Regards, Clayton.
Adelaide Personal Trainers

Posted by: Anonymous | 08-Dec-2009 12:27 PM |

CECs are a complete waste of time. Experience is a much more important indicator, even more so than qualifications. I do not need someone to check on me to see how many workshops I have attended and how many magazines I have read. I have been teaching Yoga and Pilates for over 12 years and never bother with such a ridiculous and unneccesary system but this has in no way affected my practice.

Posted by: Anonymous | 08-Dec-2009 01:10 PM |

Yes, I have comments. The new registration rules even more than before penalise against aqua instructors, who work solely as own traders for various health organisations in hydrotherapy pools. The amount of CEC points has been virtually impossible to attain, and there appears no acknowledgement of years of experience and/or of amount of weekly courses presented.
I am a holder of CertIII and CertIV Aqua for Older Adults and have 12 years experience in this field, while presenting 15 regular weekly classes, with ca. 120-150 participants in total. But I have a hard time to qualify for re-registration next April. There are virtually no workshops or courses which enhance my knowledge in my special field and also give me bonus points.
The new rules do nothing about this situation as far as I can see.

Posted by: Wayne Wilson | 08-Dec-2009 01:27 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

This industry has serious issues,

Its all about marketing and making money out of trainers ,
ok i went to school i learned the alphabet ,i know how to construct sentences, do i now have to go repeat this every 2 years ? what we get taught is the same old, same old with a new name label and price tag, much of whats taugh is not truth anyways,the myths and dogma and misinformation just keep getting passed on,i do not see a change when the answers are in front of us and are so simple, so what are the cec courses about if not generating money for a small minority,

Granted many pts now days do not now the alphabet , competency based learning NO ONE FAILS , whats that,
The average trainer is well under equiped to be dealing with a human being period !! i remain staggered at the level of this incompetance,

When the cert 4 was first bough in and i needed to get it to continue to do what i alwys have , i rang the appropriate organisation, oh i can get it competancy based as i have EXPERIANCE ! then a fool at the other end of the phone say oh you need some more knowledge in the area of postural assesmaent and rehabilitaive exercise prescription mmm i bors my friggin neck at a building site and was told i may never walk again and i have gone on the win over a dozen bodybuildoing titles ! needless to say once i enlogtened this gentleman and verbally gave some insight on how to do this, he sent me a cert 4 , whith a bill fo it !! jesus these clowns are running the show ?

I am a very competent knowledgable trainer and have not found the righ place to work , since rellocating from the golcoast to melbourne,i worked for fitness first for years , they are a sales company period ,thats all they are interested in,

I contantly learn and purchase huge amount of information from the states as i love what a good trainer can do for a fellow human being, but ooh its not fitness australia acredited , pfft,

I if any one is interested in what i am saying or perhaps having a trainer on board that cares about peolpe over money you are welocome to contact me ,
I have been in the industry training since before it had a name, 25 years , by the way the changes i have seen have not lifted the standards in fact they have gone back wards !!

Wayne wilson

Posted by: Anonymous | 11-Jan-2010 06:38 PM |

It will all end up as corrupt as the N.Z. Reps crowd, which is just full of marketers trying to suck a living out of hard working personal trainers. While giving nothing back.