NOTE: This is an opinion piece based on my own experience and should be read as such.
Richard Beddie, CEO of Exercise New Zealand has been in the news lately.
He says there’s been a 35% increase in people joining exercise programs in the last five years. This is good news but he’s also been making statements about unregistered Personal Trainers; basically rubbishing them and telling the public not to trust them.
Why? Because they haven’t taken up membership with the organisation he’s head of, Exercise NZ and REPs (New Zealand Register of Exercise Professionals).
He’s been very much getting onto CrossFit and is quoted as saying it’s been responsible for six deaths (he now says was misquoted but hasn’t provided evidence). He calls all unregistered Trainers “cowboys”.
Again, but Why? Because he has strongly invited CrossFit Communities (the businesses) and CrossFit Trainers to join up to REPs NZ and basically no-one has joined up.
That same invitation went out to Vibration Training Studios and Instructors, and Pilates Studios and Instructors around 10 years ago and again, no one joined up. Yet another group not linked to Exercise New Zealand and REPs is Zoomba, although when held in a branded gym, the gym and the trainers might be registered.
What is the reason?
One of the sources of concern is New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation figures that show a big increase in injuries coming from sport and exercise. NZ’ers love of rugby and football mean these sports feature high in injury figures, followed by the high intensity workout systems of Zumba and CrossFit.
So, for Richard Beddie, the answer is simple – all personal trainers and fitness instructors must all join up to REPs – become known as “Registered Exercise Professionals”, problem solved! My answer is the one on the TUI billboards, “Yeah, Right!”
When Beddie was caught out with this statement, “CrossFit has resulted in 6 deaths overseas and rendered an Australian man paraplegic…”
none of which is true, the response from NZ Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) was this:
“With reference to HITT activity REPs position is clear, that ALL individuals delivering this form of exercise must be registered with REPs. This ensures that the individual instructor is appropriately qualified and are bound by a scope of practise which ensures that the exercise delivered is both safe and effective. (June 18, 2014)
Is this a reasonable assumption?
Well it might sound reasonable if it ensured public safety but does that regulation really work? REPs membership starts with the trainer having passed a course and so is assumed to have a level of competency. In practise that’s no guarantee of anything.
REPs does no checking up on the trainer!
As long as they pay the yearly fees and meet minimum requirements of working in the industry and a few points for attending the conference or short course, they stay all good and registered.
Newly qualified trainers are told – join up, pay your yearly fees and we will provide you with resources, guidelines and the yearly FitEx conference (at a reduced rate, which means nothing in my opinion as conference costs have to be met so the fee is set to meet that).
Gyms and fitness businesses are told they need to be registered (club registration) and then they may ONLY employ REPs NZ registered personal trainers and fitness instructors. There’s a form of blackmail going on there in my opinion though it’s said to be all about competency and public safety.
How do I know anything about this?
My experience was very different to what it looks like to the general public – I’m really disappointed with REPs; I got nothing out of my 5 years membership.
I work for Vibra-Train NZ, a non-registered fitness business, it’s one that will never join Exercise NZ or REPs. My punishment for working in a non-registered business was that I paid a higher yearly fee (though no one could explain to me why). As REPs (and what was then known as Fitness NZ) developed its membership scheme I needed to move from provisional membership to full membership. Then they disallowed one of the academic institutes I’d studied at.
Good, I thought, someone will finally visit me at my workplace and “check” my competency. I’m very proud of what I do and welcomed a visit.
Previously I’d invited (by email) any Fitness NZ person to visit me but was told they don’t have the resource to visit.
This time I thought I’d have to prove my competency but no, again, I was refused. No one would visit. No one from REPs seemed to care if I followed safe practises when training clients. What I was told was that instead, I just needed to pass a quick online multi-choice test.
So,you see, that’s the proof of safe training REPs required – none at all!
just the certificates to say I’d passed my courses and then their online test - but Richard Beddie is pushing the line that only REPs registered instructors are “appropriately qualified and bound by a scope of practise which ensures that the exercise delivered is both safe and effective”.
Something doesn’t add up!
And the only vibration training place that was REPs registered and employed only REPs registered trainers, was owned by an Exercise NZ staffer. The business advertised their registered status as a superiority over other studios but when I visited I was dismayed by, in my opinion, the lack of safe practise and lack of understanding the differences of vibration training to other training methods. Also I heard comments from people who changed over to train with me; there’s no way I would employ any of those REPs registered vibration training instructors.
My message to Crossfit
CROSSFIT people, don’t be bullied into joining REPs. There’s no way that will make you better or safer trainers. Richard Beddie thinks he can clean up Crossfit by making you all pay your fees and register. You’ll even have to retrain if you don’t meet the registration requirements; no matter what your current experience, you’ll need that academic certificate.
Crossfit, you do have problems – I’ve watched videos showing terrible practises, certain to cause injury, and pushing people to achieve against all sense and safety. I have clients who tell me they have done Crossfit and given up because of what they’ve seen or they have friends who have kept on despite getting injuries and then been forced to give up.
You MUST clean up your OWN methods and come down very hard on lazy or undisciplined instructors; get rid of them, they won’t change. Popularity or high advertising budget counts for nothing – get rid of any trainer or company that’s damaging Crossfit’s positive reputation. The Vibration Training industry has done this, regulated their own; we’ve spoken out loudly against problem operators and those who promised great results but couldn’t possibly deliver as their equipment was too low quality. And we came out hard against unsafe practises.
Crossfit, it’s my opinion that REPs can’t help you do this. No one will come out and test your trainer’s competency or safe practise, or help you regulate within your own method. It seems to me that REPs is all about money, your money – you pay to call yourself registered and then you continue to pay to have your company registered and then each year you continue to pay. Only you can decide if what you get for that money is worth it to your company and your trainers. I decided, for myself, it wasn’t so I didn’t re-register a year ago – and no one from REPs even bothered to ask me why.