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Vera Odinokova comments on the adoption of professional standards in the fitness area

An associate in the sports-law practice at Lawitt Hamilton, Vera Odinokova, comments for Rossiyskaya Gazeta on the adoption of professional standards in the fitness area aimed at regulating the fitness industry.

“Fitness is a relatively-new kind of sport in Russia,” says associate in the sports-law practice at Lawitt Hamilton, Vera Odinokova. “Russian legislation simply lacks well-defined concepts for such terms as “fitness,” “fitness-service,” “fitness-trainer” and “fitness-center.” Nevertheless, the dynamic development of the fitness industry demands that we fill the existing legal gaps.”

“This is far from the first time that the initiative to introduce regulatory mechanisms into the provision of fitness-services has been discussed. Concrete steps towards standardization were taken back in 2015, resulting in the affirmation and entry into force of the national standard “Public Services. Fitness-Services. General Requirements.” The document outlines a range of fitness-services and the general requirements binding thereon – but it isn’t mandatory, so providers can apply it on a voluntary basis if they so choose.”

“It’s impossible to say for sure whether this is a good or a bad thing,” continues the expert. “First and foremost, fitness goes beyond the usual services field and requires relying on more than just the Consumer Protection Law. It’s a distinct kind of sporting pursuit directly related to human health. For this reason, it’s unacceptable to leave it completely unregulated. Firstly, this concerns the imposition of exacting requirements on the professionalism of the trainer and quality of training sessions. Fitness-trainers have to be responsible not only for their effectiveness, but also for the safety of their classes – primarily by taking

into account the individual particularities of the target audience under the implementation of a given exercise plan. Certainly, people vying for the title of fitness-trainer need to undergo initial certification, with the understanding that there are many different ways of organizing this certification. In our opinion, what’s required – at a minimum – is to test their psychological health, knowledge of the fundamentals of human anatomy and ability to render first aid. Thereafter, it would be appropriate to conduct periodic audits of their professional competence.”

As Vera Odinokova explained, the wholesale transfer of existing standards in professional sports to the fitness industry is extremely risky from the standpoint of popularizing physical fitness – the public might just lose interest in it altogether.

This is precisely why a balanced approach to regulation in this area is essential.

The expert went on to note that the fitness field lacks standardization not just in Russia but also abroad, where consensus has thus far been elusive on how best to regulate the industry – or whether it should be regulated at all.

Follow the link for the full text of the publication.