Dear Editor

I just finished reading the July issue and have to say great job. I was really impressed with the article “Steps Toward Building a Top 100 Club,” on page 35. There was good information in that article. It will serve as a great road map for anyone looking to build a bigger business. My compliments to Alexa de los Reyes for writing an article that is a real how-to guide.
Eddie Diaz, personal trainer, New York, NY

THE EDITOR RESONDS

Thanks, Eddie. We are making a concerted effort here at Club Industry to bring as many articles as possible that show how to do — or in this case grow — your business in a practical and step-by-step way. We're glad you found it beneficial. I will also pass along your comments to the author. It's not often contributors receive a pat on the back, even when they are well deserved.

Hi John,

I read the “Focus on Personal Training” column by Phil Kaplan in the July issue with interest. Phil makes good points in his writing, however, I'm not sure he's the best representative of professionalism in personal training. When I read anything he writes, it's laden with talk about personal trainers needing to be knowledgeable professionals. In the column, he laments the fact that fitness is “an industry where the willingness to look good in a polo shirt and the willingness to sit through a weekend workshop and pass an unaccredited exam can lead to a ‘personal trainer’ business card.”

That's an excellent point, but I wonder if Phil is the best person to be making it.

Does he have any formal education? Isn't it ironic that he writes about personal trainers needing to be knowledgeable about anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and psychology if he has never studied these subjects in any institution of higher learning?

Am I saying that formal education is the be-all and end-all of professionalism? Of course not. It's just a beginning, but it does provide an essential grounding in the basic knowledge professionals need.

The fitness industry will never be taken seriously if its spokespeople are not seen as being credible.
Teri O'Brien
Author of The Personal Trainer's
Handbook (Human Kinetics)

THE AUTHOR RESPONDS:

Your observations are correct. I don't list my degree in my marketing literature. I've found a niche helping personal trainers find success, and while I believe acceptable knowledge in exercise and nutrition are essential, I was driven to pursue my mission upon meeting physiologists and nutritionists who had formal education, but weren't bringing about significant results. My academic achievement did not fulfill requirements for teacher certification, nor credentials for any opportunities in nutrition. I knew I needed to learn more, but rather than pursue an advanced degree, I chose to learn from those who were delivering results consistently. My personal training strategies have multiplied profits of scores of health clubs I've consulted with and my seminars have brought financial independence to a significant number of trainers. The information I share is based on strategies I'm proving sound every day. I've received praise and commendation from organizations including ACE and Fitness Institute, and have been invited to write a chapter for the NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training. I never asked to be an industry spokesperson, but instead find gratification in knowing I'm making a difference.

In my bylines, I also do not include that I was a national director for a major health club chain or that I hold 17 certifications. I want trainers to recognize me as one of them. Some of the best trainers that I've employed lacked formal education in anything exercise related, but were self-taught and achieved NSCA and/or ACSM certifications.

While my formal education provided a foundation, more than 20 years later, I can say my most valuable education has been an unconventional path. I believe it's important that a standard is set in our industry, and if that standard is the requirement to pass a time-tested practical and written exam, I believe it can act as the filter to separate those who have an acceptable level of knowledge from those who do not.

The health club industry is a field where formal education is not a primary requirement. Trainers are the only health club employees required to have credentials. As our industry continues to grow, the path should open for those who can prove competence, whether via formal or unconventional, yet valid education. If I make even a small dent I feel I'm doing some good.
Philip A. Kaplan, B.S. Exercise Sciencephil@philkaplan.com

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