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Freddie

Freddie deBoer used to blog at lhote.blogspot.com, and may again someday. Now he blogs here.

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14 Responses

  1. So I might say more about this later, but for now I’ll just remark quickly that two of the most obvious downsides of state-enforced licensing requirements for physical trainers would be:

    1. It becomes harder and more costly to get into the line of work.

    2. Thanks to (1), hiring a physical trainer costs more.

    Plus, it’s obviously an open question whether the official standards would actually work to their desired ends; the key thing to note, though, is that the above consequences would fall most heavily on the already disadvantaged.Report

    • I don’t think you should have to have a license to show someone how to work out; that’s unenforceable, even if we wanted to do that. Consumers want there to be such a thing as a licensed personal trainer so that they have a little peace of mind that the person they hired knows what he or she is doing. Trainers want to be able to be licensed so that they can use that as a selling point. What exists now is a chaos of different certifications and licenses which don’t mean anything to most people, and which aren’t even enforced with the same standards within the same certifications. Many personal trainers claim to be certified when what they have amounts to a piece of paper they made in Microsoft Paint.

      What I’d like is that, if you want to have your cousin train you on the side, and you’re comfortable with that, go for it; we couldn’t possible enforce it if we wanted to stop that sort of thing. But if people want to use a licensed trainer, knowing it’s more expensive, and if trainers want to get licensed in order to give people more assurance about their capabilities, and thus charge more, we should have some sort of consistent standards. And as the industry is most certainly not providing such standards now, I think it’s sensible to ask government to create such licensing standards.Report

      • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Freddie says:

        So you’re in effect saying that there should be no requirements for licensure to work as a personal trainer, but if you want to be a Licensed Personal Trainer, there should be some guide for that? That seems reasonable, though I’d say it should be a state-level license, not federal.

        Then again, it seems that once you start moving in this direction you get more and more of a push for requiring burdensome licensing across the board. Florists, for instance, need to be certified in most states, as do hair-stylists. This means expensive schooling for people who may not even need it. It is expensive and doesn’t really guarantee a good hair-cut any more than the markets would. It seems that once you start opening these doors, getting government involved, you really have a hard time turning back the clock.

        And quite frankly, I’d rather have my tax dollars going toward cops and schools and fixing pot-holes.Report

        • What Erik said. In practice, official licensing guidelines mean state-enforced licensure requirements, which is why I’m disallowed from taking money for my services as an amateur interior designer across much of the U.S.Report

        • Avatar Nancy Irving in reply to E.D. Kain says:

          “Florists, for instance, need to be certified in most states, as do hair-stylists. This means expensive schooling for people who may not even need it. It is expensive and doesn’t really guarantee a good hair-cut…”

          I don’t know about florists, but I believe hairdressers are licensed because they work with toxic substances. It’s a matter of safety, not of assuring you get a nice bob.

          Everybody (?) agrees that doctors, nurses and other medical technicians need to be licensed. The issue is the same–safety. The question when it comes to people like trainers is whether the dangers posed by not licensing them are, as with the case of medical personnel, sufficiently serious to merit government involvement.Report

          • I don’t know about florists, but I believe hairdressers are licensed because they work with toxic substances. It’s a matter of safety, not of assuring you get a nice bob.

            But this isn’t actually the case. Virginia Postrel has examined African hair braiders in New York, who do NOT use toxic substances (or really “substances” at all), but who still have to learn how to style caucasian hair. A licensing regime may start out with the best of intentions, but once it’s established, the licensed practitioners are going to do everything they can to prevent others’ entry.Report

          • Avatar Thomas O. Meehan in reply to Nancy Irving says:

            I believe that barbers are licensed because they used to perform minor surgery such as lancing boils. This and the prevalence of conditions like ringworm and lice, gave the state a real interest in seeing to their training and antisepses. As for hairdressers, I suspect that you are right regarding chemicals.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Freddie says:

        Freddie, as soon as we create a group of “liscenced personal trainers” who have incurred expense and effort to get the government to certify them as such we have then created an interest group who have strong incentive to lobby for the government to make it increasingly difficult for people outside said group to offer similar services. And government rarely needs much convincing to expand their reach. We’ve seen it in virtually every industry or service that regulation has ever descended upon.

        I know that let the buyer beware is tough, but there’s nothing preventing the injured buyer from launching a devastating lawsuit against the malificent trainer and damnit we have to stop somewhere? We can -always- find unfortunates in every group and service to use as a banner for increased regulation. It’s just “Won’t somebody think of the children!?!?” in different words.Report

      • Avatar quadmoniker in reply to Freddie says:

        I’m not sure I understand your distinction between yoga, which is a strength and cardio exercise, and personal training. They’re essentially the same thing. You can hurt yourself with yoga, just as easily as if you were working with weights or doing intensive cardio. If you’re going to argue that you should license and regulate personal training, yoga should go with that too.Report

  2. Avatar greginak says:

    But how much is the actual cost of entry. At some level shouldn’t there be a cost of entry to a field?Report

  3. First, I’d challenge the distinction between personal training and yoga. Many yoga regimens can be quite intense and athletic.

    But second, I’d suggest that this line of argument may be defending regulation by anecdote. It’s easy to find people who were injured by personal trainers. Liberty interests aside, and speaking strictly about costs and benefits to public health, “some people get injured” isn’t an argument in favor of regulation — we need to know that the regulations will actually prevent the injuries (not always easy), and that the removal of many personal trainers from the market will not adversely affect public health — causing more illness and injury than it prevents.Report

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