I first wrote this in may 2011, I teach Zumba now and think this still throws up some interesting questions.
As always this is just my stream of consciousness at the moment feel free to leave or add your own comments and thoughts to it, especially if you have answers to some of the questions I think Im going to ask. This has been buzzing around in my head for the last couple of days.
So for those of you that have been living under a rock for the last couple of years and have no Idea what Zumba is, It’s the global “fitness phenomenon” a latin style dance aerobics class. If you are not in the fitness industry and have never heard of REPS then I wouldn’t be surprised. REPs stands for the register of exercise professionals. Basically fitness instructors pay them to have their name put on a list and they endorse different training programmes that reach their criteria.
From my own personal point of view I do have issues with both Zumba and REPs.
My main issue with Zumba is that I didn’t think of it first! Zumba also gets my back up for a number of other reasons. Anyone can become a zumba instructor without any formal teacher or fitness instructor training, Yes your aunty maud can go and pay her money do a 1 day training course and then start teaching. From my understanding of it, a zumba instructor is taught to just do the class and let the participants follow the movement, the less talk the better, hence a lack of safety cueing.
Because of this Zumba is a bit of pot luck on what type of class you get. If you do it with an Instructor who has experience in the fitness industry and teaching qualifications then Im sure you will have a fantastically safe class and have great fun, I am also sure there are some stars out there that don’t have a formal teaching qualification that are teaching this with common sense and a great personality, But in the same breath I have seen what can only be called poor reproductions of teaching, failure to hear a beat (which I would have thought was a fundamental to a dance class), instructors fitness levels that are rivaled by that of a couch potato, where they are extremely over weight, the class out perform them embarrassingly. Asking their participants to perform moves that at best can be described as controversial. Unfortunately I have seen this type of instructor more than I have seen the good ones. The lack of standard across the Zumba brand is an issue for Zumba and can only be detrimental to their product. No matter where you go in the world a Big Mac looks and tastes the same hence the brands standards of McDonalds allow you to trust them globally. Zumba has failed to create their own brand standard which as I see it will affect their longeviety.
In order to become a member of REPs The criteria is that you have an NVQ or equivalent qualification in fitness. Which level you enter into REPs depends on what level you are trained at. A level 2 is the basic qualification for teaching usually either a gym instructor or exercise to music, these are both combined with an anatomy and physiology certification. The majority of gyms and leisure centers would require both of these certificates to work for them. A level 3 is an advanced instructor this Includes Personal Trainers. Level 4 goes in to specialities and usually requires a number of practical hours at lower levels before even starting train on a level 4.
In order to stay a member of REPs you have to do 2 things. 1 you have to pay your yearly subscription fee and 2 you have to attend courses that give you a certain number of continueing professional development points CPD. And what do you get for your money a certificate and a card and a couple of magazines a year.
My issue with REPs is why do I need to pay them a yearly fee to get a card to say that they have seen my certificates when I have already done that to Fit Pro long before REPs even came around. I wouldn’t have been able to get my insurance with them without doing that, I also wouldn’t be able to work in any of the big gym chains or local authority leisure centres without them having copies of my certificates. If it was a fee as a pre requisite to getting my insurance through them then fine at least then I have a choice in where I buy my insurance from.
But REPs have managed to fool the brain dead Idiots that used to run a restaurant chain in the outer Hebrides that are now at head office running some of the fitness chains in the UK, that their instructors need a REPs card in order to work for them. Each company is paying REPs thousands of pounds for their staff to be on their list instead of saying “you know what our brand standards are so high that we check our staff anyway. We audit regularly to keep up to date on insurance and training, and not only that but we also train our staff regularly and continuously to keep our company at the top of its game. Why would we pay you to do what we all ready do?” Thank fully there is one company in the UK that did just that and it also appears that they are the most successful one!
One of the things that REPs says it was established to do was “To safeguard the livelihood of professionals who have invested time and money into their education”. REPs has given Zumba 4CPD points, Surly this is in direct violation of what it was set up to do. REPs is supporting and endorsing a company that is undermining the validity and necessity of National Occupational Standard Training. Every Instructor in the industry would believe that as a bare minimum you need a NVQ level 2 or equivalent to teach in the industry (and in my opinion to work in the industry, how can you manage someone if you don’t even have the qualification to do it yourself?) If a 1 day training course allows anyone to teach with out any prior qualifications or fitness knowledge then REPs are not safeguarding the lively hood of its members they have just allowed it to be trampled all over.
Zumba is not going away the brand is getting bigger there is Zumba for seniors and Zumba for kids and I hear now Aqua Zumba. I cant fault the company for making the most of its success they have become a house hold name through great multi media marketing. Every morning we have all seen the infomercials by guthy ranker telling the Zumba DVDs. This powerful blanket television marketing has thrust the Zumba name into the public consciousness. Other more established fitness companies could learn from this. Ask the average person in the street if they have heard of Zumba they will say yes ask them if they have heard of Les Mills would you get the same response I dont think so.
But where will it stop? Zumba Personal Training after a 1 day course? By REPs endorsing this, it has opened up a pandoras box, It has failed it members and its Mission statement.
So am I right? Answers on a postcard.