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State Legislatures Take on Licensing Again

OVERLAND PARK, KS -- New and revised licensing and certification bills for personal trainers are making their way into legislative committees in several states this year while other bills are now dead.

In California, Senate Bill 374 is considered dead after it stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, according to Elise Flynn Gyore, a legislative consultant to California State Sen. Ron Calderon, who introduced the bill last February. The bill would have to be reintroduced in order to move it, Gyore says. The deadline to introduce new bills in the California Assembly is Feb. 19.

“We’re kind of in the process right now of figuring out what we want to do with this year’s legislation package,” Gyore says.

The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), which opposes most bills involving the licensing and certification of personal trainers, had spoken directly with Calderon about this bill last year. The bill would have required personal trainers to receive a certification from an agency approved by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) or by an organization accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

That requirement is the same as a recommendation that IHRSA made to its member clubs in 2005 about personal trainer certifications. The other option in the bill was for personal trainers to have a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, kinesiology, fitness science or another related field.

In New Jersey, Senate Bill 2164 has died in committee, but a new bill, Senate Bill 695, was re-introduced by state Sen. Paul Sarlo after the 2010 legislative session began Jan. 18. Although the new bill is called the Fitness Professionals Certification Act, the bill does call for the licensing of fitness professionals—specifically, personal trainers and group fitness instructors—and establishes a seven-member state board of fitness professionals to oversee the licensing process.

In Massachusetts, Senate Bill 870 is still in committee. Not much has happened with the bill since the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Health held a hearing on the bill last summer, according to Shawn Collins, chief of staff to Sen. Richard Moore, who introduced the bill. At the hearing, representatives from IHRSA and two club companies, Town Sports International and Millennium Partners Sports Club Management, testified against the bill.

Similar to the recent New Jersey bill, the Massachusetts bill calls for a licensing board to approve license applicants. Collins says debate on the bill can continue through July 31, the formal end of the legislative session.

“I wouldn’t say it’s dead yet,” Collins says of the bill. “It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen. The bill needs some work. It needs to take a harder look at the industry itself.”

In New Hampshire, a new bill, House Bill 1313, would require personal trainers to make certain disclosures to their clients. Specifically, personal trainers would have to disclose, in writing, their qualifications and education prior to providing any services or accepting any fees from their clients. Failure to do this would be subject to a $50 fine.

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