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The momentum continues to build for wider acceptance of “exercise as medicine” with the introduction of The Family and Retirement Health Investment Act of 2013 to Congress. Containing similar language as the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act, the new Bill would seek to “encourage more exercise and better nutrition” by expanding what is defined as qualified medical expenses. The purpose of the Bill, introduced to the Senate by Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), is to allow individuals to tap into their Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs) to pay for wellness-related programs such as nutritional counseling or structured physical activity programs aimed at improving the general well-being of the American population. While some may argue that exercise doesn’t cost much (you can get up and just walk/run outside around your neighborhood right?) others argue that the cost of gym memberships, fitness equipment, nutrition counseling, etc is a barrier to improvements in lifestyle behaviors. Supporters of the legislation hope that by allowing pre-tax dollars deposited into these accounts (HSAs and FSAs), fitness and personal wellness might become just a little bit more affordable. Similar legislation was introduced to the House of Representatives by Erik Paulsen (R-MN).
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a new study, “Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School,” reviewing the current status of physical activity and physical education in the school environment. The report issued today comes on the heels of last year’s IOM report, “Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation,” which yielded two key goals to accelerate the progress made in obesity prevention through increased physical activity: to make physical activity an integral and routine part of life, and to make schools a national focal point for obesity prevention.
Today’s study draws on these two goals by evaluating and identifying a variety of recommendations for strengthening and improving programs and policies for physical activity and physical education. The study reviews the various influences that physical activity and physical education have over a child’s physical, cognitive and brain, and psychosocial health and development.
More specifically, given that young people spend much of their time in school, the IOM believes school is a critical environment in which positive change can be implemented. The IOM recommends:
Today’s IOM report release coincided with a flurry of legislative action regarding physical activity, including the introduction in the Senate of the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act, and the House introduction of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Act and the Promoting Health for Youth Skills in Classrooms and in Life (PHYSICAL) Act.
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Representative Kind (D-WI), and Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL) introduced the FIT Kids Act, which would strengthen physical education programs to help enable schools to implement quality, evidence-based programs. Among other aspects, the legislation would establish a framework for schools to assess the quality and quantity of PE they are providing, and better inform parents regarding the PE their kids are receiving.
In addition, the Physical Activity Guidelines for America Act was introduced in the House by Congressman Kind and Congressman Schock. The companion legislation was introduced by Senator Harkin and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) in March. The bill would set a 10 year cycle for review of the National Physical Activity Guidelines based on the most current scientific evidence and require a second report midway through each cycle to highlight best practices and emerging issues in the physical activity arena. Keeping the Guidelines updated will ensure that Americans have the most up-to-date information they need to keep healthy by being active.
Finally, the PHYSICAL Act, introduced in the Senate last February, has a House companion bill, which was introduced today by Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), and Congressman John Lewis (D-GA). The bill would classify health and physical education as core subjects within the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, allowing them to be eligible for federal funding under Title I and Title II.
“The release of the IOM Report and the introduction of these signature physical activity bills set the stage for meaningful reforms of our education system and will encourage implementation of up-to-date, evidence-based strategies and interventions which are proven to combat inactivity among our children,” said Scott Goudeseune, President of NCPPA. “NCPPA is looking forward to working with and being a resource for Congress in passing legislation that can ensure the physical activity needs of our nation – particularly our youth - are being met.”
Earlier this month, Florida state senator Maria Lorts Sachs introduced Senate Bill 1616 (SB 1616) which would create a state board to license personal trainers looking to practice in the state of Florida. In addition to the creation of a state “Board of Personal Training” SB 1616 would also place a number of requirements on individuals who wish to work as Personal Trainers in Florida. The International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) currently opposes SB 1616 in its current form citing overly burdensome licensure requirements and likely increases in the cost of personal trainer services for consumers. Some of the “specifics” outlined in SB 1616 would require individuals to meet yet-to-be determined education and training standards determined by the Florida “Board of Personal Training”. Personal Trainers would also need to complete continuing education, as determined by a newly formed “Florida Fitness Instructors and Trainers Management Corporation” as well as pass a licensure exam administered by the Florida “Board of Personal Training”. The bill also calls for licensing and license renewal fees of a yet-to-be determined amount. In addition to the above mentioned conditions, Personal Trainers would also be required to obtain a certification from an organization accredited by the NCCA or DETC. For additional information, IHRSA has provided contact information for Tim Sullivan, IHRSA’s Senior Legislative Analyst at email@example.com or 800-228-4772.
WASHINGTON, DC – (September 24, 2012) Chief executive officers of more than two dozen corporations and organizations pledged to engage their employees and themselves in physical activity September 24 as part of a nationwide campaign launched today by the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity .
The CEO Pledge states:
For the betterment of my company, our employees, their families, and our country, I pledge to improve employee health and wellness by providing opportunities and resources for physical activity before, during or after the workday, and to enhance my own health and wellness by engaging in regular physical activity.
NCPPA President Laurie Whitsel told CEOs assembled at a Capitol Hill ceremony to honor those who signed that, “To promote health in the workplace, there must be consistent and visible support from leaders, beginning with the CEO.”
“Research studies show that overall employee happiness and productivity are enhanced by daily exercise, especially when accessibility and support to exercise come from within the corporate environment,” she added.
CEOs of the following companies signed the CEO Pledge: Active Network, Eastman Chemical Co, Lincoln Industries, AAHPERD, American Council on Exercise, American College of Sports Medicine, American Heart Association, Body Training Systems, HPCareer.Net, IDEA Health & Fitness Association, International Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association, L&T Health and Fitness, MEND Foundation, MyZone, National Academy of Sports Medicine, National Athletics Trainers Association, National Council on Strength & Fitness, NIRSA, Plus One Health Management, Preventure, StayWell Health Management, SPRI Products, USA Triathlon, and Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.
“The lack of physical activity is a leading contributor to the nation’s obesity crisis, and, work-related concerns often create hurdles to employee access to opportunities for physical activity,” according to NCPPA Executive Director Melissa Merson.
“The CEO Pledge makes clear that business leaders have an influential role to play in addressing our country’s health and health care crises,” said Joe Moore, President and CEO of IHRSA, one of the first to sign the pledge. “With most working adults spending roughly half their waking hours on the job on the days that they work, it is incumbent upon business and industry leaders to become part of the solution. By promoting physical activity and healthy lifestyles within the workplace, CEOs help their company’s bottom line, but they also help society.”
L&T Fitness President Susan Liebenow said she signed the pledge “‘to improve employee health and wellness by providing opportunities and resources for physical activity before, during and after the workday, and to enhance my own health and wellness by engaging in regular physical activity.”
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts currently has a proposed Bill to regulate Personal Trainers. MA Bill 1005, titled An Act to encourage well qualified practitioners in the field of personal training, presented by Robert F. Fennell (10th Essex) and Paul Brodeur (32nd Middlesex) is intended to license and regulate personal trainers. The Bill is flawed in its loose definitions, interpretations, and recommendations, which could have deleterious effects on personal trainers in Massachusetts. While the intent may be in the right place, the language defeats its intended purpose. Interestingly, the recommendations are not consistent with any other regulated allied health profession and will likely inhibit optimal practices in the professional credentialing for personal trainers in Massachusetts. The NCSF Board for Certification is actively engaged in preventing the Bill from moving forward in its current language and encourages Massachusetts personal trainers to become as informed as possible about how they may be affected by the proposed legislation.
Wednesday, February 29th marked a critical deadline for proposed legislation in the State of Florida. Two bills – House Bill 1257 and Senate Bill 984 – contained potential legislation that would require all personal trainers in Florida to obtain state licensure. However, at this time neither bill will move forward because no committee hearing could be scheduled before the February 29th deadline. The International Health, Racquet, and Sports Club Association (IHRSA) worked with lobbyists in Tallahassee, as well as a number of industry leaders, including the National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF), to protect Florida personal trainers from unnecessary and burdensome state licensure requirements. If passed, the proposed bills would have required a trainer to:
Many of these proposed requirements would create redundancy with the requirements personal trainers already comply with for their NCCA-accredited certifications, one of which is the NCSF-CPT. In addition, the possibility of passing legislation that would require something that is documented as “not yet determined” (the CEU requirement in the bill) presents a potentially significant issue. While the NCSF takes a neutral stance with regard to state licensure and is neither for nor against legislation, the organization will continue to work with industry professions and experts for the betterment and advancement of the personal trainer industry.
The International Health, Racquet, and Sports club Association (IRHSA) has signed on along with 100 national organizations to a letter being sent to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the “supercommittee”) asking that the funding for a number of health promotion programs not be reduced, specifically the Prevention and Public Health Fund. The letter cites research underscoring the significance of prevention and the return on investment that health promotion can lead to in the health care industry. “If we take action to prevent obesity and reduce the prevalence of related chronic disease and illness, the study estimates that we could achieve significant savings for both private payers and federal and states’ governments – even a 1 percent reduction in the average BMI of Americans could result in as many as 2.4 million avoided cases of diabetes, 1.7 million cases of cardiovascular disease, and 127,000 cases of cancer in the next two decades.” The letter goes on to point out the importance of acting now. “At a time when today’s children are in danger of becoming the first generation in American history to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents, we need to get serious as a nation about our commitment to prevention, wellness, and preparedness.”
Earlier in the month, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing regarding the impact of disease prevention, screening, and health promotion as they relate to health care costs and improved quality of life. One of the primary focal points of the hearing was how early detection and screening for chronic disease will actually save money in the long run and improve the survival rates and quality of life of individuals. Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, senior member of the committee spoke about the impact of prevention stating, “Evidence based preventive health services saves lives, improves health and wellness, and reduces health care costs. It is so important that we bring together these experts to learn more about our efforts to prevent these deadly and costly diseases which are bankrupting our nation and killing our loved ones.” In these difficult economic times many disease prevention and health improvement programs that are sponsored or subsidized by the government are potentially on the “chopping block” as legislators looks to cut costs anywhere they can. Therefore, it appears increasingly important that the health and fitness and medical communities speak up about the importance of early detection, screenings, and programs aimed at increased physical activity and improved health and fitness, and how these programs, despite initial costs, ultimately save money in the long run.
The Campaign to End Obesity is reporting that Medicare beneficiaries may become eligible for “unprecedented obesity treatment services” if the proposal being considered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is approved. The CMS is reviewing a proposal for “intensive behavioral therapy” which would focus on sustained weight loss through interventions such as regular exercise participation, nutritional counseling, and regular screenings for BMI as well as periodic behavioral counseling. It has not yet been determined whether the proposal would integrate gyms/fitness facilities and/or personal trainers into the mixture of professionals working with these obese Medicare beneficiaries. However, it is well-known, and well-documented that successful weight loss and weight management strategies need a balance between nutritional counseling/therapy and regular, consistent exercise participation. Public comments are welcome through September 30, 2011 online at: http://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/submit-public-comment.aspx
In what is being viewed as a victory for the gym/health club industry, the State of Florida failed to pass House Bill 5005 (HB 5005) which, if passed, would have completely deregulated a number of industries in the State of Florida, including health clubs. The International Health, Racquet, and Sports club Association (IHRSA) worked with lobbyists in Tallahassee and fitness professionals from across the State in an effort to protect the fitness industry. Changes would have included the deregulation of registration and membership contract issues. Prior to HB 5005 going before the House for a vote, the health club industry was removed from the Bill, so even if the Bill had passed, the fitness industry would have been spared. In addition, House Bill 445 (HB 445) passed on May 3, 2011 which allows individuals to be offered rewards and/or incentives from their insurance providers for voluntary participation in wellness programs. This could be a big step in the right direction for the healthcare system to fund preventive care in the State of Florida. Insurers and lawmakers are coming around to the argument that money spent on prevention of obesity will pay off in lower healthcare costs of the individual who would be healthier at a lower weight.
On March 9th, the United States Senate unanimously passed Resolution 97 (SR 97) which affirms “the importance of exercise and physical activity as a way of combating obesity, reducing chronic disease and lowering health care costs.” The International Health, Racquet, and Sports club Association (IHRSA) worked diligently with Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) to introduce the resolution. “On behalf of IHRSA clubs, I would like to thank Senators Casey and Burr for their support of this bill, and commitment to prevention and healthy lifestyles,” said Joe Moore, IHRSA President and CEO. “We want Congress to understand and remain vigilant to the cost-saving role that effective disease prevention measures can play in the health care delivery system.” The passing of this resolution is great news for fitness clubs and personal trainers alike. As more and more support is gained for exercise as medicine, job opportunities for fitness professionals will continue to rise.
In late March 2011, the Florida House Committee on Economic Affairs listened to proposed legislation, House Bill 5005 (HB 5005) that, if enacted, would repeal current laws that govern health clubs in the State of Florida. HB 5005 would apply to for-profit businesses, while exempting current non-for-profit fitness facilities. The bill would have an immediate effect on Florida gyms in the following manner:
In addition to the above mentioned immediate effects, passing of HB 5005 may have some unintended outcomes, most notably health clubs may face restrictions that they are currently exempt from on automatic renewal for service contracts. Additional information about State legislation related to the fitness industry can be found on the NCSF website at http://www.ncsf.org/governance/legislativeupdates.aspx.
Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa has reintroduced the Workforce Health Improvement Program Act (WHIP) as part of the Healthier Lifestyles and Prevention American Act (HeLP America Act). The WHIP portion of the bill is of particular importance for personal trainers and the fitness industry because, if passed, the WHIP Act would allow employers to set aside pre-tax dollars for off-site health clubs memberships. The overall goal of the HeLP and WHIP Acts is to reduce obesity, reduce chronic disease, reduce healthcare costs while improving the lifestyle habits of all Americans. “We need to integrate health and wellness into all elements of American communities…By providing people the information and resources they need to live longer, healthier lives, the HeLP America Act will empower people to take care of their health, boosting overall quality of life and lowering our spiraling health care costs,” said Senator Harkin, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
In May, the California Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development again heard testimony from the International Health, Racquet, and Sports club Association (IHRSA) regarding Senate Bill 1043 (SB 1043), which would attempt to place regulations on the personal trainer industry. The NCSF has submitted testimony regarding the problems with the Bill, while IHRSA is working very closely with the Bill’s sponsor, Senator Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) to achieve an industry-friendly Bill in the State of California. This Bill, SB 1043, is very similar to SB 374, which was introduced by Senator Calderon in 2009. However, the original Bill in 2009 had provisions for already practicing trainers while the current Bill (SB 1043) does not maintain those same accommodations, which is a potential issue moving forward. Despite the lack of provisions for existing trainers, the remainder of the bill appears to be in line with the recommendations from the IHRSA Board of Directors. The bill would prohibit an individual from identifying themselves as a personal trainer unless they were certified by a national independent organization accredited by the NCCA, an organization accredited by either the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or by the US Department of Education; or hold a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, kinesiology, fitness science, or another closely related field. The original Bill presented in 2009 did not make it out of the Appropriations Committee because it was assigned a fiscal note of $50,000 meaning it would cost the State that much to implement the legislation. The final outcome of this year’s bill is not yet known. For more information about this bill, you can go to to http://ihrsa.org/california
Senate Bill 83 (SB 83) has been introduced in Connecticut by State Senator Paul Doyle, that if passed would repeal the State’s sales tax on personal training services. Opponents and supports alike have valid arguments for/against this bill. Senator Doyle’s efforts to repeal the sales tax are one step in a much larger fight against escalating health care costs. The thoughts process behind the move is that if personal training can become more affordable (by removing the sales tax) more people could afford to work with a personal trainer. Those individuals, in theory, would be healthier and thereby reduce the burden placed on the healthcare system by increased medical costs commonly associated with poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. However, opponents to the Bill cite the current economic conditions of the State of Connecticut and are fighting to keep as much revenue as possible flowing into the State. Eliminating the sales tax on personal training services would decrease the money flowing into the government, which, in theory, could be used for large scale healthy lifestyle initiatives on a State-wide level.
In early February, the House Committee on Executive Departments and Administration unanimously voted against the enactment of House Bill 1313 (HB 1313) in the State of New Hampshire, thereby preventing the passage of legislation that would have been detrimental to the Personal Trainer profession. HB 1313, if passed, would require individuals working as Personal Trainers to disclose their qualifications and education in writing prior to providing any services or accepting any fees for services. Non-compliant Personal Trainers could be fined $50 per offense according to language in the Bill. Although the Bill has been shot down in the House Committee, New Hampshire rules of procedure allow for the Bill to be reintroduced by the House of Representatives. However, given the strong support against the Bill from fitness professional in New Hampshire, as well as the International Health, Racquet, and Sports club Association (IHRSA), many are confident that the House of Representatives will not seek to move forward with this particular Bill. Prior to the Committee’s hearing on HB 1313, IHRSA was provided the opportunity to submit testimony against the Bill, explaining the detrimental effects the passage of such legislation would have on Personal Trainers throughout the State of New Hampshire.
The New Jersey Senate Commerce Committee has decided not to take up Senate Bill 2164 (SB 2164) during their final meeting of the 2009 legislative session (occurring in 2010). This is a major victory for the health club industry and an estimated 10,000 fitness professionals from the Garden State. If passed, the Bill in its current form would have been extremely detrimental to the fitness industry in the State. The Bill would have reduced the number of personal trainers and group exercise instructors currently working and would have also made it extremely difficult and burdensome for individuals to enter into the profession, thereby restricting consumer ability to pursue healthier lifestyles. SB 2164’s sponsor, Senator Paul Sarlo has indicated his commitment to having legislation passed requiring fitness professionals to be certified or licensed by the State and will most likely reintroduce something in 2010. The NCSF, International Health, Racquet, and Sports club Association (IHRSA) and New Jersey fitness professionals will continue to work tirelessly to protect the best interests of the profession and consumers and ensure that if any legislation is passed that it is appropriately constructed with those stakeholders in mind.
The Personal Training industry has come under the scrutiny of State law makers due to questions related to the competency of the fitness professional offering personal training services to the general public. Law makers challenge the seemingly easy process to become a personal trainer as some organizations and businesses serve as certification mills providing certifications using unproctored online or open book tests. Currently three States, including California, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have open bills calling for the regulation of personal trainers in some capacity, albeit using a complete licensing process or formal education and certifications with NCCA accreditation. The National Council on Strength and Fitness has communicated with law makers and provided testimony which challenges the language of the bills which would create unwarranted obstacles for fitness professionals in the respective States of practice. The general summary of requirements is listed with respect to each bill in its current language as well as the progress of each bill along the legislative process. It is important for personal trainers practicing in these states to gain an understanding of the Bill’s implications and vocalize concerns related to the respective Bill.
New Jersey Senate Bill 2164
Sponsored by Senator Paul A. Sarlo
Purpose: License Personal Trainers and Group Exercise Instructors
Status: Held over by committee, likely return in Fall 2009
Massachusetts Senate Bill 870
Presented by Richard T. Moore
Purpose: License Personal Trainers
Status: Committee hearing date in July
California Senate Bill 374
Introduced by Senator Ron Calderon
Purpose: Impose requirements for Personal Trainers
Status: California Assembly
The NCCA accredited certifications are named in each Bill as the valid mark of competency assessment. The NCCA is the accrediting body for the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA). NOCA originates from the 1977 congressional creation of the National Commission for Health Certifying Agencies (NCHCA). The commission was funded federally through the Department of Health and Human Services. At the time of creation its mission was to develop standards for quality certification in the allied health fields and to accredit organizations that met those standards. With the growing use of certification in other fields, the NCHCA leadership recognized that what was essential for quality certification of individuals in the healthcare sector was equally essential for other sectors. In 1987, the NCHCA accreditation evolved into the NCCA accreditation under the parent organization NOCA. NOCA is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute as a Standards Developer. NCCA's Standards exceed the requirements set forth by the American Psychological Association and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The National Council on Strength & Fitness (NCSF) along with the International Health Racquet and Sports Club Association (IHRSA) has successfully defeated a proposed Personal Trainer bill in Washington D.C. The legislation, if passed, would have created unnecessary and extremely burdensome licensing requirements on both current personal trainers as well as prospective professionals. These obstacles to entrance into the fitness field as well as increased costs of being a personal trainer would have had a detrimental effect on clubs, personal trainers, and reduce access to affordable quality instruction for consumers. The NCSF will continue to support the growth of the Personal Trainer profession and work to ensure that proposed limitations and restrictions not be placed on the practicing professional and the public in which they serve.