The World Instructor Training Schools (W.I.T.S.) was invited to testify before the Health and Government Operations Committee of the Maryland General Assembly on Feb. 24, 2010, in support of the Personal Trainer Act HB 747.

HB 747, introduced by Delegate Robert A. Costa, would establish two standard levels for the training and scope of practice for personal trainers in Maryland. It is the first bill of its kind in Maryland and across the United States. In addition to requiring licensure for personal trainers, HB 747 elevates the standards for programs that educate and train personal fitness trainers by requiring that the programs be offered by organizations approved by the American Council on Education (ACE) for content and the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET) or the Institute of Credentialing Excellence (ICE—formerly known as NOCA) for educational process.

Jay Del Vecchio, CEO and president of W.I.T.S., was invited to testify at the hearing by Costa. During the hearing, Del Vecchio discussed the lack of standards in the education and preparation of personal trainers and the danger that this lack of standards poses to industry credibility. Of specific concern was the lack of practical training and competence testing in most personal training certifications. In addition, Del Vecchio called for standards in the continuing education and recertification for personal trainers and recommended IACET as the sole program for approving continuing education units (CEUs) to help unclutter the industry and ensure consistent standards. He explained that the industry’s attempt at self-regulation with National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) has failed itself and has led to the “possible” need for government involvement.

Dr. Amy Hyams, an IACET commissioner, also testified at the hearing in support of HB 747. Dr. Hyams discussed the history of IACET as an approved organization from the U.S. Department of Education and its role in improving the quality of continuing education organizations and programs for other health occupations. Dr. Hyams also is a consultant for W.I.T.S and other educational organizations.

W.I.T.S., a National Council for Continuing Education and Training (NCCET) sustaining partner, is spearheading the development of a coalition in Maryland to begin discussions on drafting this legislative initiative. Del Vecchio says it is imperative to get in front of the legislative process for what is best for the industry. W.I.T.S. has retained a professional government affairs firm to assist in ally development and to work together towards a comprehensive plan for the upcoming interim. The group will convene at the DCAC Fitness event Aug. 4-8 in Alexandria, VA, for an open forum about how to grow this grassroots coalition nationally and how to become active in the legislative process. As part of this effort, Del Vecchio and Dr. Hyams are “hitting the road” to visit other cities, informing fitness industry professionals nationwide about the issues of quality education and standards in training, IACET and legislative issues. The goal is transparency and open dialogue to drive our profession to a true health occupation classification. To date, the U.S. Labor Department classifies trainers under “personal service” occupations, which are similar to a limo driver or a barber.

“We can and should do better,” Del Vecchio says. New Jersey, Georgia and Massachusetts have their own bills pending, and W.I.T.S. has been reaching out to representatives in those states as well.

To view a video and documents on this topic, contact, Jay Del Vecchio at jdelvec@witseducation.com. A complete copy of Maryland HB 747 can be found at http://mlis.state.md.us/2010rs/bills/hb/hb0747f.pdf

W.I.T.S. is an advertiser in the April 2010 issue of Club Industry magazine and the May 14, 2010, Certification and Licensing Special Report e-newsletter.