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Liberty-hating council members in D.C. now want to regulate personal trainers in bid to drive gyms out of business

Personal trainers

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(NaturalNews) The freedom-stealing statists on the Washington, D.C., city council – one of the most heavily regulated enclaves in the country – have a new target: personal trainers. The council apparently has so little else to do and so few problems to address in the historically violent city that they have time to focus their energies on an industry that seeks to combat obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Reuters reports that the regulatory regime being proposed in the nation's capital is likely to reverberate around the country, putting the kibosh on scores of gyms and personal trainers who work in a $24 billion-a-year industry.

The council actually passed legislation last year calling for the new regulations, but some critics had hoped that perhaps members would come to their senses between then and now. The council has named an obscure city regulatory panel, the Board of Physical Therapy, to write new rules for trainers who guide health-seekers through regimens of weightlifting, aerobics and other exercises.

Reuters further reported:

The board is set to vote on the new standards on Sept. 22. After a 30-day period for public comment followed by possible revisions, the rules would take effect.

Backers of regulation say consumers need protection against unqualified trainers and problems that can range from injury to sexual misconduct. Opponents reject the move as government meddling in an innovative business.

If trainers obtain a government-issued license, suddenly all of them will be better?

The rule-making "is first in the nation and it's going to set precedent for the industry," Phillip Godfrey, a medical exercise specialist who has been tracking the District's law on trainers, told Reuters.

Critics of the rules say they will drive up costs for clients, many of whom already pay a premium for personal training, and severely curtail health club profits for very little benefit.

"Personal training is the biggest profit center in health clubs - hire a kid at $12 an hour and charge $40," Sal Arria, the president of the National Board of Fitness Examiners, a non-profit that offers its own certification standards for trainers, told Reuters.

In May, D.C. was rated the fittest city in the country by the American College of Sports Medicine and Anthem Foundation, so it doesn't make much sense to impose strict new rules on the personal training industry there. Apparently, the city's gyms and trainers are doing what they're paid to do: help members get fit.

Perhaps regulators in D.C. and beyond see a cash cow. Somewhere in the new rule-making process, trainers and gyms are probably going to be hit with new fees and costs to cover the process of regulating them – costs that would not exist, of course, if the city didn't impose its rules in the first place. According to the Labor Department, there were 241,000 fitness trainers and aerobics instructors in the U.S. in May 2014; in Washington, D.C., and the surrounding metro areas in neighboring Virginia and Maryland, the department says there are about 5,850 trainers, making the region third in the country.

There are too many licensing requirements already

Trainers already have to get credentialed from one of several competing organizations, but apparently, since there is no single government licensing body after all these years, the little Stalins in D.C. and beyond the Beltway want to create one. After all, the only good trainer is a government-licensed trainer, right?

Seeing the writing on the wall, the industry has taken it upon itself to tighten up certification standards, according to David Herbert, a Canton, Ohio, lawyer and expert on exercise liability law, after regulatory efforts were unsuccessfully launched in 20 states.

"There's been reports of cats and dogs getting certifications through some kind of system," Herbert said jokingly. "Most of that is gone."

Even the regulatory-happy Obama administration knows how licensure is already hurting employment. In July, the White House released a paper showing that 25 percent of Americans already require some sort of government permission to perform their jobs.

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