A Real Expert Comments on Fitness Licensure

Big Soda-funded organizations such as the NSCA and ACSM are lobbying for fitness licensure. Their cartel claims licensure would “enhance consumer protection.”

But how would licensure really affect fitness? Would it help people, or hurt? Let’s see what a real expert says: 

Licensing places higher education and apprenticeships requirements to be able to legally work, which disproportionately impacts the poor and minorities …

[If full licensing of trainers is required], and if the market for trainers is similar to many other occupations, the number of trainers will decline, the requirements to become a trainer will increase, access to their services by clients will decline, and prices will go up …

Many occupations see licensing as a way to regulate the appropriate number of practitioners to maintain income and employment.

– Dr. Morris Kleiner

Dr. Kleiner is the Professor of Public Affairs and AFL-CIO chair at the University of Minnesota, research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Visiting Scholar in the economic research department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Kleiner has also worked at Harvard, Princeton, and the London School of Economics.

Kleiner is no knee-jerk conservative. Besides being the AFL-CIO chair at the University of Minnesota, he has supported the expansion of labor unions.

And Kleiner suggests that licensure would make fitness more expensive and less accessible for both trainers and consumers. He’s not alone.

The Bipartisan Consensus on Licensure

George Bernard Shaw once said, “If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.” Licensure may prove Shaw wrong.

Barack Obama, not known for radical libertarian advocacy, shares Kleiner’s concerns. His 2016 budget allocates $15 million to “reduce occupational licensing barriers that keep people from doing the jobs they have the skills to do by putting in place unnecessary training and high fees.”

On the other side, Milton Friedman has predicted that industry interests will, “inevitably press for the extension of registration to (government) certification, and of certification to licensure.” The fitness industry has confirmed Friedman’s prediction.

ACSM, NSCA, and CREP / USREPS claim concern for the public’s health and wellbeing. And they profess to value academic expertise. So how do we explain their strident disregard for the expert opinion that licensure will limit access to fitness?

Let’s go back to Friedman’s licensure analysis:

The result is invariably control over entry by members of the occupation itself and hence the establishment of a monopoly position.

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