The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) expressed today its vehement opposition to New Jersey Senate Bill 2164, which is a personal trainer and group exercise instructor certification bill that could effectively shut down these activities in New Jersey health clubs. To date, more than 7,400 emails have been sent by fitness professionals to state legislators, expressing their opposition to the bill.
“If passed, this bill will have devastating effects on the livelihood of an estimated 10,000 fitness professionals in New Jersey, and ultimately the health of the state’s residents,” said Joe Moore, IHRSA’s president and CEO. “The restrictions the bill imposes are overly burdensome, substantially deviate from current industry practice, and ignore the high accreditation standards established for clubs throughout the U.S.,” he said.
In May 2009, the New Jersey Coalition of Fitness Professionals and IHRSA’s lobbyist met with Senator Paul Sarlo, Deputy Majority Leader and sponsor of the bill, to express concerns that the bill would potentially be so burdensome on personal trainers and group exercise instructors that the industry would effectively be shut down should the bill pass. Despite addressing some of the concerns, the amended certification bill ultimately has the same paralyzing effect on the industry as the original version. Currently the bill lies within the Senate Commerce Committee, and could be moved to the Senate floor as early as December 3. 2009.
Despite the stated intention of the sponsor to create regulation for the benefit and safety of New Jersey citizens and ensure quality fitness professionals, as a whole, the bill would be extremely detrimental to an estimated 10,000 practicing fitness professionals and would have the dual effect of reducing the number of personal trainers and group exercise instructors and the number of consumers who are able to use their services to pursue healthier lifestyles.
Breakdown of S.B. 2164:

  • Requires certification of New Jersey’s personal trainers and group exercise instructors. The certification requirement is a change from the original bill’s call for licensure of trainers and instructors.
  • Charges the State Board of Medical Examiners with oversight of the implementation of the bill’s certification requirements.
  • The bill provides two tracks for certification. The more permanent track requires the following of trainers and instructors: Completion of an approved course of study of at least 200 classroom hours, and a portion of these hours must be in-person (IHRSA research indicates that there is only one such organization offering this curriculum currently in New Jersey); 50 hours at an internship under a certified fitness professional; passing an in-person Board administered exam; and trainers and instructors must also possess at least an associate’s degree in a health and fitness related field.
  • The bill also provides that trainers and instructors certified through a National Commissioner for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredited program and practicing prior to the Act going into effect will be certified by the state. However, they must complete the course of study prescribed by the state within two years in order to maintain certification.
  • Certification must be renewed every three years.
  • Certified trainers and instructors may be required to complete continuing education credits as determined by the Board.
  • Fees will be established and imposed on trainers and instructors as a part of certification and renewal.
  • Health clubs must register with the state and renew every two years.
  • Non-profit fitness facilities are exempt from S.B. 2164.

While individual Americans need to take charge of their own health choices, our political leaders also have a responsibility to develop policies that support healthier lifestyles. This means supporting people in their efforts to get and stay healthy and establishing policies that incentivize, not discourage, regular exercise. However, change can only occur with the cooperation of policymakers, individuals and institutions to create a culture of wellness that will begin to reverse the nation's physical inactivity problem.
IHRSA is a not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs, and suppliers worldwide. IHRSA is committed to taking a leadership role in advancing physical activity, which is critical to America's health and the battle against obesity and disease. IHRSA supports effective national initiatives to promote more active lifestyles for all Americans and is working to pass laws that will help affect societal changes toward a more fit America.