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DC Plan To Regulate Personal Trainers Takes Another Hit

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Plans for Washington, D.C., to become the first place in the country to regulate the personal fitness industry appear to be coming off track.

The woman in charge of the D.C. Board of Physical Therapy, the agency trying to impose regulations on personal trainers, was relieved of her duties by Mayor Muriel Bowser after a 15-year tenure on the board, The Washington Post reports.

Senora Simpson told the Post the news of her dismissal came after the board started to consider rules that would impose registration requirements on personal trainers in the city.

The D.C. Board of Physical Therapy is composed of five D.C. residents. Four of them are practicing physical therapists, the other is a consumer, according to the board’s website. Currently, though, only two of the five seats on the board are occupied.

Timothy Vidale was handpicked by Bowser to take over as chairman of the board, and at a Tuesday meeting he and Christopher Cousins, the only other current member of the board, voted to send Bowser a decidedly weaker version of the rules.

Originally, the rules would have required all personal trainers in the city to have a four-year college degree and pay an as-of-yet undecided amount to register with the mayor’s office, Watchdog reports.

Under the new rules, trainers with a two-year degree would be allowed to operate in the city, as well as anyone with a one-day certification from a fitness organization. Also, if a trainer has been working in the city for more than two years, they would be allowed to continue, the Post reports.

The board’s work may all be for naught, though, as earlier this week D.C. councilman Jack Evans introduced a bill that would halt the rules from ever taking effect.

“The proposed regulation of personal fitness trainers is an overreach by the District that would significantly harm the well being of our residents and the entrepreneurial climate of the District,” Evans said in a statement.

The bill introduced by Evans would amend D.C. law to strip the Physical Therapy Board of its authority to regulate personal trainers.

Evans said the Physical Therapy Board should continue to license physical therapists, because they are medical professionals that require educational training.

Personal trainers, according to Evans, engage in a broad range of activities with different theories and approaches.

“There are no universally accepted standards of training, education, or operation that the District could reasonably hold a practitioner to and therefore we should not attempt to regulate and license this industry just for the sake of collecting revenue for the District,” he said.

Evans’s bill collected six co-sponsors on the 13 member council, which means it will likely pass when brought up for a vote.

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