Regulation and the Fitness Training Industry

Regulation and the Fitness Training Industry

Regulation and the Fitness Training Industry

Trainers and Trust

Maybe we don’t think about it very often, but a trainer is in a position of trust. Not only do they have a big influence on the physical safety of clients during workouts, but they also have a huge impact on the mental and emotional well-being of the people they train. Because they are trusted, their actions have power.

People who come to train are there to take an area of weakness or underdevelopment, and build it into an area of strength, confidence, and excellence. They trust their trainers to support and be a part of that upward journey.

A Recent Breach?

The current case against John Benton, a north Texas fitness trainer, for invasive recording, is an example of when that trust may have been broken, and the devastating results of that kind of betrayal.

Benton is accused of placing a GoPro camera in the women’s changing area in order to record one of his clients. The client spotted the camera while changing. The resulting effect on her has been profound. She said via social media:

“It has been a year since I first made a report to the police against him, and it has been very hard for me to continue my life while also carrying this enormous burden. I am left with many emotional scars from this incident, but today I finally feel like the healing has begun.” (Source)

She may feel that her healing has begun with the commencement of the court case, but our concern is how the pain and damage may have been avoided in the first place. How could the crime have been prevented? Is there anything the industry could do to minimize the chances of this kind of breach of trust?

Benton is innocent until proven guilty, of course, but the case itself highlights a bigger dynamic, a larger story going on: the lack of regulation in the fitness training industry.

Education and certification and are needed to ensure the quality and integrity of trainers. It’s not that certification removes all risk, but it can help to weed out those who are less dedicated to helping others, by showing the importance of what a trainer does, and the impact a breach of trust can have.

Who Oversees This?

The IHRSA is a global health and fitness association that works to unite and raise the standards and expectations of the National Health & Fitness Alliance, the Global Health & Fitness Alliance, State Alliances, all types of fitness facilities, and Industry Partners.

Their mission is “…to grow, promote, and protect the health and fitness industry, and to provide its members with the benefits that will help them be more successful.”

With the help and leadership of the IHRSA, the industry could make wide-ranging improvements to the standards held by training facilities and trainers across the country and the globe.

What is Available?

It’s not that certification is not available. It is. The IHRSA, for example, says:

“After working with many of the fitness industry’s leading personal training certification organizations, the board decided that an independent and nationally recognized accreditation for personal training certification programs would be extremely valuable for the industry and the people it employs.

“Therefore, the IHRSA Board of Directors recommends that IHRSA member clubs hire personal trainers holding at least one current certification from a certifying organization/agency that has third-party accreditation of its certification procedures and protocols from an independent, experienced, and nationally recognized accrediting body.” (Source)

They currently recognize the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), and ANSI / ISO Standard 17024 as bodies capable of accrediting and overseeing training courses and certifications.

These certifications are not only available, they are plentiful. There are sixteen of them listed on the IHRSA site itself, and they are open to more of these trusted certification courses being added to their list.

Hidden Gym’s Take

Our take on this is that better is always better. Better training makes better trainers. Better trainers make better experiences and results for clients. That makes better clients, too. Everybody benefits.

We hire trainers with at least one certification from the IHRSA’s list.

  • Academy of Applied Personal Training Education (NCCA)
  • Athletics & Fitness Association of America (DEAC)
  • American Council on Exercise (NCCA)
  • American College of Sports Medicine (NCCA)
  • Cooper Institute (NCCA)
  • International Fitness Professionals Association (NCCA)
  • International Sports Sciences Association’s NCCPT (NCCA)
  • Lionel University (DEAC)
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NCCA)
  • National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCCA)
  • National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NCCA)
  • National Exercise Trainers Association (NCCA)
  • National Federation of Professional Trainers (NCCA)
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NCCA)
  • Training and Wellness Certification Commission (NCCA)
  • United States Career Institute (DEAC)

We thoroughly interview and get to know our potential trainers, and we encourage and enable continuous improvement in their skills, training, and overall development as people. We also ensure safety and appropriate privacy in personal areas of the facility, such as changing areas, showers, and bathrooms.

We model respect, expect it of our employees, and demand it for the benefit and dignity of our clients.


Why go to all that trouble? Two reasons. The first is that we hold ourselves to a higher standard. We don’t do just the minimum of what we have to do; we press toward the best we are possibly able to do. That’s the ethos around how we work out and how we train, so it is only natural that it holds true for how we ensure the safety and security of our clients.

The training industry needs more regulation, and hopefully that will be soon in the coming – but we are determined to continue to be the tip of the spear when it comes to training, development, and the wellbeing of our clients and partners.

Ready to take your fitness game to the next level? If you live in Allen, Dallas, or Plano, make sure to get your free day pass to join Hidden Gym! Become a part of the most motivating place in the DFW area that will help you live a healthier life!