Boston — Several groups and individuals in the health club industry have expressed opposition to a personal trainer licensing bill under consideration in Massachusetts.

In July, about 50 personal trainers attended the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Health's legislative hearing on Senate Bill 870, which would require the licensing of personal trainers. In addition, three industry representatives gave testimony against the bill at the hearing: Amy Bantham, the deputy vice president of government relations for the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA); Art Curtis, the CEO of Millennium Partners Sports Club Management, Boston; and Lisa Hufcut, the director of public relations for Town Sports International (TSI), New York.

“It seemed like this session went pretty well,” Curtis says. “The committee seemed receptive to what we had to say. There was a strong response from private trainers in Massachusetts.”

The bill would require license applicants in Massachusetts to:

  1. Be graduates of an accredited educational program leading to professional qualification in personal training.

  2. Hold a certification accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

  3. Pass an exam with oral and practical demonstrations of skill.

The exam must be approved by an independent licensing board composed of an exercise science professor, a practicing personal trainer with credentials and a member of the public.

Bantham testified that the personal training industry already has embraced accreditation as a means to ensure consumer safety through self-regulation. She cited a recommendation, adopted by the IHRSA Board of Directors in 2005, in which IHRSA member clubs hire personal trainers who either are certified through one of the 12 personal training certifying bodies accredited by the NCCA or have a certificate or degree from an educational institution recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education.

Bantham also testified that the bill's educational requirements are unclear. She added the bill would in effect decrease the number of personal trainers providing services, increase the cost of personal training services and decrease the number of consumers wanting to pursue physical activity programs.

Curtis, whose company runs six clubs under the Sports Club/LA name, including one in Boston, testified that more clubs are adopting the IHRSA recommendation in order to remain competitive and that more members are demanding qualified trainers.