An explanation of a new association

by Phil Kaplan

The AAPT is an acronym for the American Association of Personal Trainers. I didn’t initiate the AAPT. I actually rejected it when I was first offered a position on their advisory board. With time, the founder, Ray Simmons, a California attorney with the best of intentions convinced me of the virtue of his mission, to create a true association for quality trainers so they can be identified and united. I viewed it as a long-term project, and before I did anything proactive, I literally shut down the existing AAPT, tactfully terminating their prior relationships. I have since accepted a position as Acting President and over the next 3 years hope to spearhead an internationally recognized association.

Why 3 years? Because although the Personal Training field has grown in leaps and bounds, with an estimated 400,000 individuals calling themselves personal fitness trainers, our industry is in a state of flux with varying health clubs accepting varying certifications, with an absence of a true qualifying industry-wide standard, and with a greater need for quality trainers than ever before. Over the next few years continued debate, continued discussion, and continued lobbying will in all likelihood lead to a "Personal Trainer" being respected as a true professional. Along the way, we will unite those trainers who have set the bar exceptionally high and with a new unity the "ground army" can lead the way. Three years from now I believe all AAPT members will hold their heads high knowing they rode at the crest of the wave of change, and of course each and every one of them will be recognized as an established leader.

The AAPT is NOT a certification agency.

The American Medical Association does not “certify” doctors, but serves as an association whereby doctors and medical professionals can commit to live by a code of ethics and unite as a recognized force. That is the intended direction of the AAPT, to benefit those quality trainers who have self-regulated and continue to provide exceptional quality of service.

In order to make the AAPT credible, after terminating all prior memberships, we started with 55 hand picked trainers, recognizable names in the industry, trainers who are walking the talk and living by a standard of excellence. I wanted to make sure in bringing this association public we would have absolute credibility.

We've selected for our advisory board renowned functional training guru, Juan Carlos Santana and long-time fitness educator par excellence, Kelli Calabrese. We've also recruited respected fitness researcher, Dr. Wayne Westcott as a contributor and an AAPT professional consultant. Our Advisory Board, as our membership, will grow slowly and meticulously, and we anticipate in 2005 appointing three additional accomplished AAPT members to the Board.

Our Discussion Forum allows immediate interaction with the highest caliber of trainers. I’d encourage all of you to begin posting at the Discussion Board at the AAPT site. Over the next few months we’ll be adding chat rooms for online meetings (both trainer-to-trainer and trainer-to-consumer), we’re working diligently to find a health insurance option for independent trainers, and we’ll be slowly and deliberately growing our membership.

The AAPT has aligned with the National Board of Fitness Examiners ( Sal Arria posted a brief note about their vision at the AAPT Discussion Board. You can also listen to an interview I did with Sal, or tune into the live remote from the 2004 Personal Trainer Business Forum where Dr. Arria appeared as a guest in order to fully understand the direction the NBFE is headed.

We do not “take sides,” nor do we form any public opinion of the virtues of any credential. We’ll leave that to the experts in that arena. We are, however, in recognizing that the first National Board exam will take place in 2005, cognizant of the fact that the industry’s about to change. The certification agencies are scrambling since IHRSA publicly announced that the NOCA accreditation would be “the one that counts.” There are several other accrediting organizations that have played a credibility role in the certification arena and we will explore each of the certifications to better understand what may serve as an acceptable and legally defensible credential.

The AAPT is presently in a position to accept those accredited through NOCA and Vital Research while still reinforcing the virtues of a nationwide minimum requirement . . . a board exam. We will accept those agencies with long-time recognition by the Medical Community as well as University Degree programs. In a field on the edge of change, we're methodically building our membership with quality and credibility and the governing principles. In other words, we see the change coming, and we'll prepare for it, but we have a responsibility to accept what is presently most respected industry wide.

The credentialing force behind personal trainers is fragmented, and the calls I receive from certification agencies run from abounding praise to threats. I realize by accepting the Presidency of the AAPT at this time, I’m in for an interesting ride, but those of you who know me know my journey is governed by ethics, and if I’m to be criticized, I consider it an opportunity to prove the merits of a valuable association for fitness professionals. Criticism means I’m having an impact. Most of the critics call with a flawed understanding of our intentions. We are not “rejecting” certification agencies, but we are slow to add new acceptable certifications to our list only because it is so vital that we maintain absolute credibility. As our association grows to thousands and ultimately tens of thousands of members, I realize the ability to screen each applicant is severely restricted, but right now, in the developmental stages, slow growth will ensure longevity. I hope you’ll find pride in being a part of what is now a hand-picked association of ethical credible caring trainers committed to excellence. I want this to be a resource for true professionals to interact at a professional level.

Join the AAPT now and for less than the fee most trainers charge for a single training session, you form a bond, an affiliation, with an enviable ground army. You'll be able to network with top trainers from around the globe, trianers all willing to live by a Code of Ethics, focusing on issues ranging from business building to training methodologies. You'll be included in our Trainer Listing database, and with continued and ever-growing exposure, the AAPT web site will serve as a source of limitless referral business.

The AAPT will feature an Opportunities Posting where quality positions and opportunities for high level trainers will be announced.

Upon enrolling you'll recieve a business building audio CD and your AAPT decals which will soon come to be the visual representation of quality in a field where it is much needed. You'll also receive the monthly AAPT newsletter with articles aimed at helping you build your professionalism and profitability exponentially from month to month. We'll also build a library of articles written by experts sharing their advance and experiences. Already you'll find a 2-part in-depth revelation of what I've termed "The New Paradigm." Expect upcoming articles by Dr. Anthony Abbott and personal training marketing guru Eric Ruth.

Click Here to Find out More About Becoming an AAPT member.

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