Unqualified trainers 'giving us all a bad name'

March 23, 2016

Unqualified trainers 'giving us all a bad name'

Qualified personal trainer Lainey Maxwell says all instructors should have formal credentials. Photo: Louis Schmidt

Industry specialists have spoken out against fitness trainers who allegedly harm clients due to a lack of knowledge, experience or qualifications.

Personal trainers and fitness instructors do not need any formal credentials to work in New Zealand, and some believe this puts people at risk of injury.

Neuromuscular therapist Doug Maynard, of Lifestyles Neuromuscular and Massage Therapy, said it’s “very common” for personal trainers to injure clients.

He said in general it is trainers who hold only a six-month qualification who are the ones that can cause harm if they’re not careful.

“They’ve got about a six-month qualification and are in their 20s, and they’re training people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and applying the same principle,” said Mr Maynard.

Mr Maynard works with gyms in his local area of New Lynn to help educate trainers, “so that they don’t push people too hard when they clearly can’t do certain movements or certain exercises”.

Owner and head personal trainer at The Wedding Trainer Ltd, Lainey Maxwell, holds a three-year Bachelor of Sport and Recreation, and said some trainers “completely ruin it for the rest of us in the industry and gives us all a bad name”.

Miss Maxwell said she knows of people in the industry who train others without any credentials, and doesn’t think that it is acceptable.

“I think that anybody doing personal training should have qualifications. You can’t just say that you’ve had your own trainer for six weeks and learnt about nutrition a bit and now suddenly you’re qualified to train someone else,” said Miss Maxwell.

“People have a bad experience with a trainer and that can completely put them off because they spend good money and they’re actually trusting this person to give them what they’re wanting and give it to them safely."

Les Mills New Zealand’s head of fitness, Ish Cheyne, said all personal trainers at their gyms hold a Registered Exercise Professionals (REPs) registration.

REPs is an independent body that regulates people in the fitness industry, and a registration with them means a trainer has to hold a qualification which meets New Zealand and international standards, and continue their professional development.

On allegations of personal trainers pushing people too hard and injuring them, Mr Cheyne said it’s “too hard to comment without actually having seen what was prescribed or what was done” in specific circumstances.

According to REPs registrar Stephen Gascal, only 60-65 per cent of trainers in New Zealand are registered.

Mr Gascal said trainers without the REPs registration are “not bound to any standards”, and therefore “their exercise advice is not linked to recognised qualifications, standards, and best practice”.

He said making REPs registration mandatory “would provide the New Zealand public with safer exercise advice”.