Singapore Fitness Certifications And Courses: Is There Such Thing As A Gold Standard?

December 27, 2012

Image of fitness trainers undergoing a certification course.As the fitness industry in Singapore continues to boom, and corresponding interest in fitness careers and fitness jobs continue to surge unabated in the country, there inevitably arise the question: Is there such a thing as a GOLD standard in fitness certifications or courses here in Singapore and across the world?

Incidentally, this is one of the most common questions that we – at Singapore Fitness Professionals Network – frequently receive in our mailbox from interested parties, particularly those who are exploring career paths and options in the Singapore fitness industry.

At the same time, it has also become almost commonplace to hear of certain fitness certifying agencies touting their own certifications as being the only “Gold” standard worth pursuing in the fitness industry.

So, honestly speaking, how true are these claims? Is there really such a thing as a single one GOLD standard certification that stands out from all the rest in the fitness world? Or is it all just a Big BLUFF emanating from shrewd marketing people wanting to influence our decisions?

From our collective experience, observations and research into the various fitness courses and certifications available in the market, we – at Singapore Fitness Professionals Network – can safely conclude that there is basically NO truth to any claims that a GOLD standard certification truly exist in the fitness industry – none whatsoever – regardless what certain parties, organizations or institutions may claim otherwise.

Our conclusion comes from the fact that every certification comes with its own unique pre-requisites and processes, and each has something DIFFERENT to offer to the fitness professional out there. For instance, some certifications may be designed for the trainer who works in a clinical/medical setting, while others may be more appropriate for trainers working in sports performance fields, while others may be geared towards trainers working with certain special population types, yet others are for those who want to learn to coach using certain fitness methodologies or approaches. Whatever it is, NO single one certification can fully prepare a trainer to work in EACH and EVERY fitness field out there.

Certifying fitness agencies and organizations who claim that their certification alone is the only GOLD standard in the industry – is often making the statement from a highly bias point of view, tinged with a strong hint of hype and marketing – and more often than not is an attempt to gain an edge over their competition out there. In fact, with close to 1000 different fitness certifying organizations and agencies out there in the world (and still counting), the fitness certifying market is indeed often seen as extremely competitive, saturated and even cut-throat in nature.

Incidentally, and more importantly, in the interest of the fitness public concerned, having the ability to pass any certifying test (whether in theory or practical or both) simply does NOT define how good a trainer or coach is.

In fact, research across different sectors, industries and professions over history has repeatedly thrown up the same conclusion: that being certified does NOT necessarily mean being GOOD, much less making one a GREAT teacher, coach or instructor!

Rather, in the fitness world, the one thing that we find that defines a GREAT trainer is this :

Someone with the ability to take whatever knowledge taught, and communicate it clearly, apply it effectively and execute it professionally to any situation and/or client concerned.

Or, to put it in a simpler way, it is not WHERE you get your certification/qualification from, but WHAT you do with the knowledge that counts!

In real life, great trainers do come from a wide variety of certification backgrounds, so much so that it is practically impossible to pin-point  which certification in itself contributes most to the “GREATNESS” of that particular individual!!

Hence, any talk of “GOLD” standard in fitness certification is simply nothing more than a MYTH, often conjured up by the brilliant minds of individuals and organizations seeking a competitive edge in the industry.

Thus, what does all this hold then for the wannabe fitness professional out there?

Simply this: rather than seeking for a “GOLD” standard in certification, Singapore fitness professionals – including personal trainers, sports coaches and wellness instructors etc should be more concerned about aiming to become GOOD – if not GREAT – trainers themselves: those who not only talk the talk, but also WALK the talk.

Whatever it is, just remember the bottom line: it is not WHERE you have been certified, but HOW you use what you have been taught that will truly make a difference to your clients’ lives.

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Succeeding As A Fitness Entrepreneur In Singapore

October 20, 2012

Fitness has become a mainstay in the lives of many here in Singapore.Image of a Private Fitness Entrepreneur

In so much that many young men and women in the country are now actively considering fitness careers in the Singapore Fitness Industry, hungrily eyeing positions in commercial fitness facilities, or even trying their hands at becoming fitness entrepreneurs and business owners themselves.

At Singapore Fitness Professionals Network, we are constantly inundated with emails from aspiring fitness professionals – both from within and without Singapore – requesting for more information on how they can be part of the booming fitness industry here in the country.

And most of these requests, interestingly, are centred around on how one  can set-up and run his/her own private fitness facility, practice or consultancy firm here in the country.

As such, and in view of the above, we would like to offer the following list of attributes that all aspiring fitness entrepreneurs can refer to, to assess their very own suitability in becoming a successful private fitness entrepreneur.

Traits Required To Succeed As A Fitness Entrepreneur:

1. Passion

Passion is the most important trait of the successful fitness entrepreneur. Without it, you can NEVER succeed. In order to see the fruits of your labour, you really need to be passionate about your fitness niche, and truly love what you do. You must also be willing to make the necessary sacrifices, sweat and tears in order to make your dreams a reality.

2. Self-Belief

Successful fitness entrepreneurs truly believe in their abilities, talents and calling. They have an unwavering sense of self-belief that they CAN and WILL succeed in their fitness pursuits – come what may – and spare no effort in making this belief a reality.

3. Vision

Succesful fitness entrepreneurs not only know what they want, but more importantly, how to get there. They also have the ability to: view things and happenings around them with an analytical and open mind, interpret and predict future trends, patterns and behaviours, and focus on building their businesses around what works and what people want.

4. Strong Communication Skills

Fitness entrepreneurs have strong communication and people skills as they need to convince others to do business with them. Most successful fitness entrepreneurs know how to motivate themselves, their business partners, their co-workers and their clients to all work towards helping them to grow their fitness businesses and to achieve their goals.

5. Sound Business Acumen

All successful fitness entrepreneurs have sharp business minds and strong inclinations in business operations – including strategic planningbusiness networking, sales and marketing, public relations, cash flow management, human resource management etc. With their strong business grounding, they are able to build and launch their fitness businesses on solid foundations.

The above represents – what we think – are some of the most important attributes needed for an entrepreneur-minded fitness professional to succeed here in Singapore.

Obviously, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur or business owner. In fact, many may be better off simply working for others in public and commercial fitness establishments.

Only some – the cream of the crop – will eventually succeed as private fitness professionals and entrepreneurs.

For those readers who feel strongly that you possess most, if not all, of the above qualities, and have truly what it takes to be a successful fitness entrepreneur, we strongly encourage you to press on and make your dreams a reality!

Be assured that we – at Singapore Fitness Professionals Network – will be behind you all the way!


Singapore’s Best Sources Of Fitness Information

August 9, 2012

Image of fitness consultation in actionReaders who having been following our last blog entry would no doubt be eagerly awaiting the sequel to our fitness blog : “Singapore’s Fitness Culture: Where Does The Public Get Its Fitness Information From?”

As discussed in our earlier blog, most Singaporeans – in their frenzy to look good and feel good – are turning to entirely WRONG and UNRELIABLE sources for help: sources like the Internet, off-the-rack “health” and “fitness” magazines and even fellow gym-goers for advice.

By doing so, not only are they exposing themselves to the real risks of fitness MIS-information, but also putting their very own bodies, health and fitness in jeopardy.

So, where then should one turn-to for authentic, real and truthful fitness information here in Singapore?

Our panel of professional Singapore fitness coaches, consultants and trainers would like to offer the follow recommendations to our readers:

1) Research-Backed Scientific Exercise Journals

By these, we mean publications from sound and established exercise science foundations and sports science institutions. For instance, publications such as the following offer genuine, trustworthy and scientific fitness information to the public:

  • Journal Of Exercise Physiology
  • Journal Of Sports Science And Medicine
  • Medicine And Science In Sports And Medicine
  • Journal Of Strength & Conditioning

In addition to the above, fitness publications from reputable fitness organizations such as: ACSM (American College Of Sports Medicine), IDEA (International Dance & Exercise Association), ACE ( American Council On Exercise) , NCSF ( National Council On Strength And Fitness) and a handful of other fitness organizations are also trustworthy and worth a read to anyone who is into fitness.

So the next time you are tempted to reach out for that glossy, off-the-rack “fitness” magazine again, do think twice before you act.

Because you’ll be so much BETTER OFF and SAFER gleaning your fitness information from real, authentic scientific sources (such as the above-mentioned) than from those commercial, for-profit-only fitness magazines.

2) Certified Fitness Professionals And Coaches 

Bona-fide fitness professionals who have undergone the full spectrum of academic studies, on-the-field practical sessions and fulfilled rigorous certifying procedures would also be a good source of fitness information for the lay person out there.

Fully qualified and certified fitness instructors, exercise trainers and sports coaches offer you a ready, on-hand source of reliable fitness information to tap upon.

These very same fitness professionals would also be the best persons to offer you in-depth, scientific fitness explanations, perspectives and understanding that you will never get by chatting to your typical gym-rat or workout buddy at your neighbourhood fitness facility.

Now that you know where to go to for accurate fitness information, there’s no reason for you to continue being a VICTIM of fitness MIS-information again.

Always remember to seek the RIGHT fitness sources, and you’ll never go wrong in your fitness pursuits ever again.


Singapore’s Fitness Culture: Where Does The Public Get Its Fitness Information From?

June 3, 2012

The fitness scene here in Singapore has certainly grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade.Image of people exercising.

More people ever than before are now involved in fitness pursuits and exercises, ranging from gym-based resistance training to outdoor fitness boot camps to even mixed martial arts fitness programs.

Unfortunately, the majority of the Singapore Public – in its keenness to devour all things fitness – may have gleaned its fitness information from entirely wrong or even unsuitable sources – as our contacts close to the ground and within the fitness trenches right here in Singapore (think: personal trainers, fitness coaches, strength-and-conditioning coaches and other fitness professionals etc) seem to indicate to us.

The following are some of the most common and popular sources of fitness information (or should we say, MIS-information) that many here in Singapore tend to turn to in their thirst for greater fitness and better bodies:

1) The Internet

The internet is indeed a goldmine of fitness information. Unfortunately much of it is also mixed with half-truths, myths, misinformation and even downright lies!

With the large boom in “muscle”, “health” and “fitness” blogs/sites found on the internet nowadays, many supposedly run by “gurus” or “experts” in the fitness field, many here in Singapore have inadvertently found themselves drawn to these sites by their attractive and enticing portrayal of fitness, nutrition and training advice.

Unfortunately, upon closer scrutiny and careful examination, many of these internet site are really featuring fitness information that is based on fads, popular culture, half-truths and founded on research with little, if any, scientific backing.

And since the large majority of Singaporeans do NOT have much formal academic foundations in exercise science, sports nutrition or even fitness studies, many are thus unable to distinguish fact from fiction on many of these sites; thus putting themselves at a great risk of being misled by the Internet.

2) Health/Fitness Magazines

Go to any bookshop and you’ll find row and rows of “fitness” and “health” magazines portraying buffed physiques of fitness models or professional athletes.

Much as these magazines may claim to represent “real” fitness information, the sad truth is that these magazines are often run on the basis of PROFIT and are often forced to churn out content after content in accordance to the wishes of their pay-masters ( the ADVERTISERS – such as supplement companies and exercise equipment manufacturers)

As such, much of the information are often highly biased, and skewed in nature, and are often geared towards highlighting certain brands of products/equipment/supplements (or even drugs!); and often portray drug-fueled athletes/models who are themselves financially backed by these very same companies!

Furthermore, ask any insider in the advertising or publishing industry, and you’ll be SHOCKED at how many of these so-called “buffed” physiques seen in the magazines are actually highly-processed images that have gone through countless rounds of photoshopping, airbrushing and computer-manipulation so that the end product (the published images) look 110% better than their real persons!

On top of that, a lot of the (mis)information emanating from these magazines also arise from the fact that the training and dietary routines portrayed in them are often relevant only to high-level professional athletes/experienced trainees who have years and years of training in their related sport, with superb genetics to boot, and who are more often than not on some kind of physique- or performancing-enhancing “juice”.

Precious little, if any of the information found in most off-the-rack fitness magazines are realisticpractical or even applicable to the average, on-the-street Singaporean guy or gal who simply needs to lose a few pounds, pack on a little size, or just seeking to tone up a few lagging areas of the body.

In fact, anyone who tries to follow the bulk of advice and routines found in these magazines – in an unthinking, blind and wholesale fashion – is simply foolhardy at best, and downright suicidal at worst!

3) Fellow Gym-Goers

Getting advice from other gym-goers also seems to be a popular way of obtaining fitness information here in Singapore.

In a typical “Monkey-See, Monkey-Do” scenario, the shy scrawny guy or the overweight gal with poor self-image – both desperate to transform their bodies – end up so blinded and enamoured with their respective gyms’ resident “Muscle Guy” or “Buffed Chick” that they decide – once and for all – that whatever their “Hero” or “Heroine” says, does or do in the gym, they would likewise follow – right down to the last dot.

Unfortunately, this concept simply does not work in real life.

As every individual responds to training differently, what works for one may not necessarily work for another! Add to the fact that “Mr Muscle Guy” and “Ms Buffed Chick” are usually individuals who are gifted with great genetics, so that even if their training programs are downright faulty, unbalanced or even grossly dangerous and unscientific, they would still get to see results – nevertheless! ( yes, life’s UNFAIR, we know) And not to mention that many of these Great Bods out there (though 99% of them would never admit to it) have previously, or are currently taking illegal aids such as steroids, growth hormones, diuretics and other drugs – to get them to where they are now!

Thus, for the average fitness enthusiast out there who hopes to bank on his/her fellow gym-goers for fitness information and guidance, is simply setting himself/herself out for a lifetime of misery, frustration, and heartache.

Not only is he/she NOT going to end up looking like his/her ‘HERO(INE)” in all probability after all, the chances of being MISinformed and MISled with a slew of pseudo-jumbo fitness information is much HIGHER than the non-gym goer!

Conclusion

So, where then should Singaporeans turn to for authentic, scientific and research-based fitness information? Stay tuned for the answer in our next blog issue!


Are Fitness Boot Camps For You: A Singapore Perspective

April 9, 2012

Fitness boot camps are HOT here in Singapore, no doubt about it.Image of fitness boot camps

Whether it is the Singapore Botanic Gardens or the East Coast Park or even the Marina Bayfront, wherever you look nowadays, you are bound to see these fitness boot camps being held there usually in the early mornings or in the late evenings.

So – what makes these fitness boot camps tick?

Well, from the strong sense of camaraderie among boot-campers (as they are known) to the fun-filled atmosphere to the great outdoor scenery, fitness boot camps are indeed a great way for one to get a good workout and at the same time, mingle with like-minded participants in the arms of Nature.

However, fitness boot camps may NOT be for everyone, as we – at Singapore Fitness Professionals Network –  will discuss in a moment.

So, before you decide to ditch your personal trainer for good, there are a couple of things you will need to consider before going all-out and enrolling yourself in a group-exercise style boot camp program.

The following are  some objective pointers for you to think about:

1) Fitness Boot Camps Do NOT Provide Personalised Instruction

Obviously, due to the group nature of the program, a fitness boot camp will always lack the personal touch and individualized guidance that some people crave for in a fitness program. With groups numbering between 10 to 15, or even 20, or more, at any one time, there is absolutely no way your boot camp instructor is going to just focus on you during the workout session. So, if you are someone with special needs, with specific conditions, or simply one who learns and functions better in a one-to-one setting, then boot camps are definitely NOT for you!

2) Fitness Boot Camps Are NOT Designed With Just You In Mind

To take into consideration the broad variations in fitness levels among boot-campers, a fitness boot camp has no choice but to be designed to cater to the MASSES or to the Entire Group. Hence, if your fitness level falls somewhere at either end of the fitness spectrum (ie. either you are very FIT or very UNFIT), you may feel left-out after a while as most boot camps would not be able to cater specifically to your needs. Also, bear in mind that you will have absolutely NO say over the kind of exercises, training, or equipment to be used in the program; as all these will be prescribed to the group by the fitness boot camp instructor – regardless whether you like it or not. Your job is basically to Listen, Follow and Do.

3) Fitness Boot Camps May NOT Fit Your Schedule

Most fitness boot camps run on a fixed time schedule that caters to the larger interest of the group. And this usually means that the boot camps are either conducted VERY early in the mornings (between 5am to 7am ) or VERY late in the evenings (between 6pm to 8pm). Hence, if your work/training schedule does not fit into the above times, you will soon find yourself in a fix, and without a group to join pretty soon.

4) Fitness Boot Camps Are NOT For Introverts

Are you by nature a shy, reticent or private person? Then fitness boot camps will NOT suit you at all.

With its high-octane, high-energy atmosphere where team cheers, group hugs, high-fives, back-slapping and other forms of bodily contact amongst participants the NORM, fitness boot camps may very well turn out to be a fitness program from HELL for the introvert.

Also, due to the very social and dynamic nature of fitness boot camps, the type of personalities attracted to this format of exercise are usually those who are the direct OPPOSITE of introverts: the LoudColourful, Assertive, In-Your-Face types – whom introverts may simply find it hard to click with!

In a nutshell, fitness boot camps – though a highly popular and effective form of fitness program here in Singapore – is simply NOT for everybody.

It may be more suitable for some, but not so for others…..

Whatever it is, always consider your own personality, your own needs and the whole range of factors mentioned above – before committing yourself to any fitness program.

For more information on Singapore Fitness Boot Camps or Singapore Personal Training Services, please feel free to contact us today!


Obsession With Fitness Tools : A Singapore Perspective

March 14, 2012

Image of a fitness tool in use.In recent years, a disturbing phenomenon has emerged within the Singapore fitness scene – that of groups of exercise enthusiasts, or even fitness trainers/coaches – who go around advocating fitness training centred around a single, particular choice/type of fitness equipment.

Whether this tool is a Kettlebell, a Suspension Strap, a PVC Tube or a type of elastic Band, the message is inherently the same: “Use this one piece of equipment for ALL your fitness needs” !!!

These “fitness cults” often go about preaching and propagating their “One-Tool” message to the public, their followers and trainees, strongly advocating that their particular piece of equipment is the “Be All and End All” of fitness.

The more extreme ones would even convince their ‘tribe‘ to forego ALL other forms of training that require the use of other tools, equipment or approaches, and just rely on that ONE tool for every fitness workout!

On top of that, followers are also often goaded into “investing” in their very own personal “new-fangled” tool – not only for themselves, but also one for every family member, relative, colleague etc ….

And unfortunately, many ignorant consumers (and even some trainers) have been sucked into this scam, feverishly centering ALL their workouts around that one piece of tool, and falsely believing that ALL their fitness goals and dreams are going to be realized with that one piece of equipment!!!

To put things right, once and for all, we – at Singapore Fitness Professionals Network – would like to advise all fitness consumers and fitness professionals in Singapore that:

Regardless of what you read/hear out there, there is absolutely NO – NOT ONE – single piece of equipment in the Entire Universe – that can scientifically develop ALL the fitness components of the Human Body, or meet EVERY fitness need/goal of a person – solely by itself. 

As any certified strength coach or bona-fide personal fitness trainer – worth his/her salt – would tell you, your BEST BET for building optimum fitness, health and a great body – is to use a combination of fitness approaches, together with a VARIETY of fitness tools and equipment (preferably of the functional-kind) to hone your physique.

Anyone else (even if he/she professes to be a professional, expert or “guru”)who suggests otherwise, is simply ignorant, misguided or has hidden agendas of his/her own.

Much as we know that every piece of fitness equipment has its own merits, NONE can provide your body with absolutely ALL the moves, resistance, angles and planes of movement that your body requires for All-Rounded Balanced Development.

So the next time, if you chance upon anyone trying to sell you the idea that all you need to get that Dream Body of yours is to get their latest single piece of fitness “wonder-kit”, please check their fitness credentials or pedigree, and tell them off politely: “Thanks, but NO thanks!”


Ethics Within The Singapore Fitness Profession

February 6, 2012

image of fitness trainingIn Singapore and in other parts of the world – which have an active, vibrant fitness scene – trainers, coaches and instructors who provide professional fitness services of one kind or another are expected to abide to a code of ethics governing their interactions and transactions with members of the public.

These code of ethics are usually set forth by the respective fitness organizations that issue certifications to trainers, and most, if not all, have codes of conduct such as: providing quality instruction to clients, not discriminating against persons irrespective of race, gender or age, respecting other fellow fitness professionals and carrying oneself with utmost integrity and professionalism.

And to our knowledge, the majority of Singapore Fitness Pros do abide to these ethical codes and have little, if any, problem living up to them.

Unfortunately, like in every other industry, there are always some black sheep among the community who blatantly disregard these ethics for their own agendas.

Below mentioned are some of the common ethical shortcomings observed among a small segment of fitness professionals within our community:

1. Trainers Who Are More Interested In Selling “Fitness Products” Than Coaching Itself

These trainers are the ones who believe in pushing sales of supplements, pills, powders, and other fitness products onto their unsuspecting clients. In fact, for some of these trainers – the profits from the sales of these products far outweigh their earnings from coaching itself! However, from an ethical point of view, this business of selling should be frowned upon as it demeans the fitness profession, and distracts from the real purpose why clients sign up for fitness lessons in the first place – basically for instruction and NOT for the purchase of fitness products.

2. Trainers Who Discriminate Against Segments Of The Population

There are also some trainers who are extremely selective and discriminatory in whom they choose to be their clients. In fact, some of them have been known to set certain arbitrary criteria when it comes to selecting clients: for example, they are only willing to take-on clients who come from certain well-to-do districts (usually the landed private property areas), belong to a certain social/economic status, or who are from a certain ‘teachable’ age group. Prospects/clients who do not satisfy these conditions are summarily dismissed by these trainers and told to “look elsewhere”. Again, such arrogant and discriminatory behaviour have no place in our fitness industry.

3. Trainers Who Do Not Abide By Their Fitness Contracts 

When a business transaction takes place between a fitness professional and a willing client, a paper contract or agreement is usually signed by both parties to acknowledge the terms and conditions under which the service will be provided and payment to be made. Unfortunately, there are known cases of trainers or instructors failing to abide by the agreed terms listed in the contract, or those who short-change their clients even after signing a contract, resulting in much inconvenience, disillusionment or even monetary losses on the part of the clients. Again, this is something extremely unbecoming and unsavoury for anyone who professes to be a professional in the fitness industry.

4. Trainers Who Get Into Inappropriate Relationships With Their Clients

As professionals providing an honourable health/fitness service to mankind, a high level of moral integrity is to expected among those who call themselves fitness professionals. Unfortunately, a small minority are always willing to forgo their morals and indulge in inappropriate or ‘hanky-panky’ relationships with their clients – either for individual gain or as a consequence of their own flawed characters. In Singapore, there have been cases of trainers having sexual relationships with married clients, being involved in straight/gay/group sex with casual prospects and openly offering special services” as part of their ‘fitness packages’. Not only does such behavior go against every grain of conduct for fitness professionals, it also casts a misleading and negative light on the profession as a whole, unfairly tainting all other trainers along with it.

6. Trainers Who Discredit Other Fellow Fitness Professionals

Whether it is out of pure jealousy, professional envy or industry rivalry, there are always some trainers or coaches who simply have no qualms discrediting their fellow fitness pros for their own individual gain. Perhaps thinking that it would help them gain an upper hand when it comes to attracting clients, these trainers would resort to spreading unfounded rumours, speaking ill-will, gossiping, or simply distorting facts regarding other trainers in order to cast a bad light on them. Again, such behaviours are not to be condoned as they merely serve to put the industry down and sow seeds of discord and suspicion among fellow trainers.

As bad as they may seem, the above ethical shortcomings are fortunately NOT the norm in the Singapore Fitness Industry.

However, the fact that they exist – shows that much can still be done to improve the state of ethics within the fitness community here.

Ultimately, the onus falls on each individual trainer, coach or instructor to uphold for himself/herself – a high standard of ethical behaviour as becoming that of a Fitness Professional – and to recognize that the benefits of adopting such sound ethical practices will eventually far outweigh any short-term gain or temporary advantage that any ethical short-cut may bring about in the long run.