Last week I submitted another training course for Stages Indoor Cycling to SkillsActive to get it accredited. Along with other main indoor cycling manufacturers and my own Velocity Indoor Cycling Program. we aim to raise the standard of indoor cycling instructors in the industry.

A couple of things have happened recently to make me re-address the topic of education within the fitness industry once more.

Firstly I made the mistake of advertising a Velocity Indoor Cycling course on Mothering Sunday. This resulted in training one person. This is not the first time I have done 1 -2 -1 indoor cycling training. People ask me ‘why don’t you cancel the course? It can’t be financially viable for you? Not really, however my reward comes from sharing my knowledge and expertise? This is what my programme is all about. If other companies want to use me, then I charge them for this, but if I’m looking to raise the standard of indoor cycling instructors then I am very aware that it may have to be done, literally one instructor at a time.

The next occurrence
was when I was submitting the new Stages Indoor Cycling course; I had a discussion about National Occupational Standards, and why there are standards for Group Exercise and Exercise to Music, but not one specifically for Group Indoor Cycling, so many courses are mapped to these two occupational standards regardless of equipment being used. There is no National Occupational Standard for Indoor Cycling, (a list of information which should be included in the course enabling it to be accredited), because the Board of Occupational Standards do not see Group Indoor Cycling as a career on its own. Well I have managed to make it a career out of it and I know plenty of other fitness professionals who just teach Indoor Cycling. That is a poor reason not to implement Occupational Standards for every form of exercise, regardless of how many people are doing it.

I have written about SkillsActive and REPs before, as I have helped many courses get accredited, and they do help raise the standard of education. Highlighting sections which should be included in your training material. Whether by one or two sentences to whole chapters of information which should be covered.

However the whole landscape of the educational process is changing and seemingly not for the better. Soon the standards which are set for education will become even lower. Here is the funny thing, the standards are set by the board and then presented to the the Fitness Industry to sign them off! The same Fitness Industry who tell us repeatedly that education of its staff is key, yet then tell educational providers that they can’t afford to take their team off the gym floor for one or two days; so they lean on educational providers to run 2 hour workshops, or condense 2 days of training to 1 day, or to do more on-line training and reduce the face to face time.

As a business I have had to facilitate these demands to prevent myself losing business, as after all I have bills to pay. This results in a compromise in the standard of my training, mainly the thoroughness of an assessment. It should then not come as a surprise when we witness fitness professionals performing exercises incorrectly for their clients, or only being able to show them a handful of exercises on fitness apparatus, which leads to the members getting bored of a product after a few sessions leaving it redundant in the gym; or hearing feedback about how the instructors are not delivering great group exercise classes or indoor cycling classes. Which then leads us to why pre-choreographed workouts are so attractive to the fitness operators, as the formula is structured and the instructors just have to follow what is spoon fed to them on a quarterly bases.

So has the Fitness Industry inadvertently dumbed down the Fitness Industry? The need for qualifications to be delivered quickly, signing off generic occupational standards of a certification, reducing the time that a qualification can be obtained.
At some point the Fitness Industry needs to reconsider what is actually being delivered to their fitness teams. You may have seen the link of this law suit in America where the Personal Trainer misused a Rower. Many moons ago when I was working for a gym, we were lucky enough to have a) a rower on our team who went through how to use a rower and then b) some of the team were sent on a Concept II Crew class course, who then came back with even more knowledge of how to use a rower.

It’s amazing in this day and age how Fitness Instructors and Personal Trainers have the belief that they can use any piece of equipment in the gym without any knowledge of it. We need the Fitness Industry to be asking for National Standards for training on every piece of apparatus like the Rower, and demand the manufacturers can deliver this training. Education is a win for everyone. Manufacturers get their products used correctly. Like the Keiser Air Kit, it is awesome if you know how to use it! It’s not purely for the over 50’s and is explosive for functional training. So then Fitness Operators purchase more of the kit. However the Fitness operators need to accept education takes time and this may result in team off the gym floor, studios closed for one or two days. Better trained staff means a better experience for their members. Because you better be forward thinking about when a million pound lawsuit lands on your company, that you had given your gym team the time off the gym floor to be educated.

The Fitness Industry needs to stop playing lip service to education and demand better standards, this means putting more money into staff training and allowing more time for it. It needs to start making sure training providers are producing a higher calibre of instructors once more, not just churning them out in a fortnight, or a 6 week block.

Recently with David Lloyd Leisure and Stages Indoor Cycling they have actually taken steps to deliver further education for the product after the initial training course. If this happens then the ownness falls onto the fitness professionals, to understand you are always learning, you never know everything and taking exercises from ‘YouTube’ does not certify you or cover you in case of an injury to a client whilst working with equipment you have not been trained in. Educational standards needs to be implemented from the top down.

As always thoughts and feedback always welcome.