Unqualified personal trainers: When working out can be bad for your health

A lack of regulatory oversight means anyone with a dream and a reasonable waistline can become a personal trainer.

Exercise is often the best preventative medicine available. Exercise can help in recovering from injuries and prevent illness. However, improper exercise can be dangerous to your health and safety. That is why responsible personal trainers suggest you consult with your doctor before undertaking any new fitness program or regimen. Experienced personal trainers will also obtain a thorough background on your health and fitness goals to ensure that exercises undertaken are appropriate.

Unfortunately, not all personal trainers understand the importance of matching workouts to individual medical needs.

If you do become ill or injured, you'll know that while some doctors are better than others, at least all of them graduated from an accredited medical school and are subject to ongoing education and oversight from medical boards. For personal trainers, however, there is no such insurance against unqualified practitioners.

Fortunately, most gyms will not hire someone without some sort of certification. Still, even a certification may not mean a personal trainer is qualified. For one thing, because it is unregulated, any school, program, personal trainer, or hobbyist can create a program for certification. According to the American Counsel of Exercise, a nationally recognized certification program, there are hundreds of available programs for aspiring personal trainers, with varying degrees of effectiveness and professionalism. The ACE program requires an investment of hundreds, potentially thousands of dollars, in addition to a three-hour exam and accompanying study hours. For personal trainers looking to break into the field, it might be tempting to find a certification program with the least amount of investment in time and money, rather than the best available.

Even after receiving accreditation, a personal trainer newly certified is unlikely to be able to handle varied clients equally. Like any profession, personal trainers need experience in order to understand the needs of individual clients. It's likely a personal trainer can help people who share a similar age, gender, and fitness level achieve their fitness goals, but helping a retiree begin working out for the first time one hour and then helping a teenager looking to make the football team another requires more extensive experience and knowledge.

The National Academy of Sports Medicine, another leading program, offers certification in trainer specialties, such as weight loss or youth exercise, encouraging trainers to better understand that personal training involves more than just providing motivation. Not all certification programs make such a distinction.

What to do if injured

Hopefully, the worst that happens with an unqualified personal trainer is that they don't help you reach your fitness goals. Unfortunately, unqualified personal trainers can do more than waste a client's time and money. Previous and ongoing medical conditions can worsen by working out incorrectly and lead to significant injury.

If you have been injured because of the negligence or inexperience of a personal trainer, you may be entitled to compensation to help with the medical costs and lost wages associated with the injury. At Smiley & Smiley, our New York City attorneys have successfully brought lawsuits against personal trainers who negligently injured their clients. Contact our office to discuss your legal options.

Keywords: Personal trainers, negligence, inexperience, gym injury, unqualified personal trainers, personal injury lawsuit.