Looking for a fitness trainer? A new national registry can help, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

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

After spending months being cooped up at home with little exercise, the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in recent years saw a surge in community interest as more people signed up for fitness based activities such as yoga, spin classes and high-intensity interval training or HIIT sessions.

To boost professionalism in the fitness industry, a new National Registry of Exercise Professionals (NREP) will be rolled out in three phases from April 2023. It will also help build capabilities, especially in the area of safety and knowledge.

The exercise professionals include personal trainers, fitness coaches, aerobics instructors, spin instructors, yoga and pilates instructors, sports performance coaches, and other fitness and wellness specialists.

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

Mr Eric Chua, parliamentary secretary for the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth said that certified exercise professionals with relevant accreditation play an important role as more Singaporeans adopt sport as a way of life. He was responding to MP Xie Yao Quan (Jurong GRC), who had asked in Parliament what the ministry’s plans are to help these professionals refresh and update their skills.

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

Mr Roy Teo, Sport Singapore’s (SportSG) chief of industry developments technology and innovation, said the registry is a “starting point” to better understand the industry and to maintain certain standards. He added: “During Covid-19, there were difficulties in reaching out to everyone and render assistance. In the case of exercise professionals, there are a lot of them who are freelancers and self employed. Hopefully through NREP, we can capture a lot more information and reach out to them when necessary.”

The first phase of the NREP will see memberships handed out to exercise professionals who have completed the following: Standard First Aid with AED and CPR, code of ethics module, relevant fitness or exercise certifications.

They will also get free membership with the National Instructors and Coaches Association (NICA) in the first year. This will allow them to enjoy benefits that include mediation support for workplace disputes, training funding to defray essential course fees and business networking and resources.

Another benefit of the NREP is that it will give the public greater assurance when engaging accredited exercise professionals who are listed on the registry, said Mr Teo.

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

He added: “Having NREP will mean there is a basic requirement that will need to be met and a national registry will set the standard. For clients, especially those that are very new to signing up for fitness related services, if they know that their trainer or instructor is on the NREP, they can feel more secure.”

From April 2024, government agencies who hire a sizable number of exercise professionals including SportSG, People’s Association, Health Promotion Board and Ministry of Home Affairs will only hire those registered under the NREP.

In a later phase, the NREP will implement an accreditation framework to drive continual education and capability development in the sector.

President of the Singapore Fitness Alliance Sean Tan supports the move, saying: “Singapore has one of the most developed and mature fitness and wellness industries in the world, and NREP will help exercise professionals with their skills and knowledge development, and career advancements.

“Over time, to be registered in NREP, exercise professionals will have to have some basic exercise or fitness certifications, which will cover topics like anatomy and body mechanics. These will help ensure that exercise professionals continue to prescribe exercise with no or little risk to injuries.”

On Monday, it was also announced that the Singapore Sport Hall of Fame will be refreshed to recognise athletes who demonstrate a sustained contribution to sport beyond medal achievements.

It will include a new category for sport leaders such as administrators, coaches and scientists.

Set up in 1985 to honour the Republic’s top sportsmen and women, the Hall of Fame has 57 entries to date, including football icon Fandi Ahmad, Olympic champion Joseph Schooling and five-time Paralympic gold medallist Yip Pin Xiu.

To further elevate the Hall of Fame to the sporting equivalent of the Cultural Medallion, Mr Chua also announced that the President will give out the awards starting from 2023.

Dr Su Chun Wei, chief of the Singapore Sport Institute, said this was prompted by the need for the Hall of Fame to “continue to stay relevant and resonate with Singaporeans”.

Dr Su added: “We looked at how other sectors like the arts celebrate their most talented artists and we see the need for the sports industry to anchor strongly in Singaporeans’ hearts. We have significant individuals amongst the fraternity who have contributed to the sports scene and we want to give them an opportunity to be considered for the Hall of Fame. It will give us a chance to celebrate our leaders in sport that have dedicated a life of service to sport and Singapore’s society.”

Also announced in Parliament on Monday was an additional $100 of ActiveSG credits for Singapore citizens and permanent residents aged four to 12. They will receive the additional $100 credit in their ActiveSG account on May 1, which can be used to offset the cost of programmes such as ActiveSG Academies and Clubs, leagues and competitions, and cover entry fees for swimming pools and facility bookings.

Since 2014, a one-off $100 ActiveSG credit has been given to all Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents when they sign up for an ActiveSG membership. Non-ActiveSG members aged four to 12, who sign up as a new member between May 1 and Oct 31 will receive a total of $200 ActiveSG credits.

Eligible individuals can sign up at myactivesg.com or via the ActiveSG app.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong also provided other updates on Monday.

Developments in the Kallang Alive precinct are on track, with the Kallang Football Hub and Kallang Tennis Centre due to be completed in 2023.

For the Unleash The Roar! project launched in March 2021 to lift local football and unite Singaporeans, Mr Tong said there are plans for an expansion in the number of Schools Football Academies (SFAs) and to increase the programme intake. He also announced that its inaugural scholarship will be launched in 2023 to send footballers to overseas academies that offer good quality education alongside the best football training environment.