Looking for a fitness trainer? A new national registry could help

SINGAPORE – After spending months cooped up at home with little exercise, more people in Singapore have returned to fitness-based activities amid the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. A surge in community interest has led to more sign-ups for yoga, spin classes and high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, sessions.

To increase professionalism in the fitness industry, a new National Register of Exercise Professionals (NREP) will be introduced in three phases from April 2023.

It will also help build capabilities, especially in the areas of safety and knowledge.

Exercise professionals include personal trainers, fitness trainers, aerobics instructors, spinning instructors, yoga and pilates instructors, sports performance coaches, and other fitness and wellness professionals.

The NREP is similar to the National Register of Coaches (NROC), which was launched in 2003 to raise the standard and professionalism of sports coaching in Singapore.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Eric Chua said certified exercise professionals with relevant accreditation play an important role as more Singaporeans embrace sport as a way of life.

He was responding to Mr Xie Yao Quan (Jurong GRC), who had asked in Parliament what the ministry’s plans were to help these professionals refresh and update their skills.

Mr Chua added: “Through NREP, we hope that all sports professionals will be equipped with the relevant accreditations to raise the overall quality and safety standards of the fitness industry.”

Mr Roy Teo, Head of Technology and Industry Innovation at Sport Singapore’s (SportSG), said the registry was a starting point to better understand the industry and maintain certain standards.

He added: “During Covid-19 it was difficult to reach everyone and help. In the case of exercise professionals, there are many who are freelance and self-employed. We hope that through the NREP we can gather much more information and contact them when needed.”

In the first phase of the NREP, memberships will be awarded to exercise professionals who have completed the following: Standard First Aid with Automated External Defibrillator and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, Code of Ethics module, relevant fitness or exercise certificates.

They will also receive free membership of the National Instructors and Coaches Association (Nica) for the first year.

This will allow them to enjoy benefits that include support for mediation in workplace disputes, training funding to cover basic course fees and business networks and resources.

Another benefit of the NREP is that it will give the public greater certainty in engaging accredited exercise professionals who are on the register, said Mr Teo.

Noting that the “barrier to entry into the industry is low”, Mr Tommy Yau, 49, a personal trainer and group exercise instructor, said having the NREP would mean better standards.

Mr Yau, who is also part of Nica’s executive committee, added: “Having the NREP will mean there is a basic requirement to be met and a national register will set the standard. For clients, especially those who are very new to signing up for fitness-related services, knowing that their trainer or instructor is with NREP can make them feel more secure.”

From April 2024, government agencies that employ a significant number of exercise professionals, including SportSG, the People’s Association, the Health Promotion Council and the Home Office, will only employ those registered under the NREP.

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