SINGAPORE – After spending months being cooped up at home with little exercise, more people in Singapore have returned to fitness-based activities amid the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
The surge in community interest has seen more sign-ups for yoga, spin classes and high-intensity interval training 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.
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, 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 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 Mr 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.
Mr Chua 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, chief of industry developments technology and innovation at Sport Singapore (SportSG), 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 rendering 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 courses in standard first aid with automated external defibrillator and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, completed a code of ethics module, and hold 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 the NREP will mean better standards.
Mr Yau, who is also part of Nica’s executive committee, 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 who 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 that take in a sizeable number of exercise professionals, including SportSG, the People’s Association, the Health Promotion Board and the Ministry of Home Affairs, will hire only those registered under the NREP.