State Approved Degrees don’t make you a professional

A young boy was born in this world with a not so optimal genetic signature. Weight was always an issue for him. From a young age the battle was constant. He tried almost every diet and exercise regime available. At one point, he delved into the matter deeper. Having the internet at his disposal he started learning about biology, fitness and diet. He transformed himself into a very fit and healthy individual. He beat the odds and he did it all by himself, “unprofessionally”.

Our friend though got cornered by a union/lobby group. They were desperate to protect their trade like so many other dying professions. The socialist spirited union, demands all fitness professionals to have state approved degrees. So they used the coercive force of the government. They sued him. His professional training business was in trouble. He caved in and he went ahead to get formal training. Shortly after he became one of the zombies. He picked up the regime of the lobbying group. He started bad mouthing those who did not have the appropriate qualifications. He called them dangerous and unprofessional, public enemies. He forgot that just a few months ago he was in the same pool as those whom he was accusing. He forgot that for a decade he was the dangerous, unprofessional one who was able to transform himself through self learning and dedication.

Now let’s move to the leader of the union. He has what most people refer to as “formal education”. Most countries though would not consider his degree for serious profesional work. He tried to get employment abroad but failed across the board. You see, his “formal education” was acquired from a poor European country that has a reputation of selling degrees. The students are almost always castaways that failed to get admitted to traditional British, German or even local Universities. They are also known as “Last Resort Universities”.

Those who shout the most, have the most to fear.

There is a reason we don’t see pilots and surgeons fighting to protect their profession. It is extremely hard to fool the average person with fake expertise. The market will reject the phonies almost immediately. But this is not true for personal training professionals, graphic designers, sociologists, psychologists or economists. In the age of the internet, all one needs is a passion for knowledge. Most people went into debt only to find out that a university basically teaches you basic google search skills and writing composition. And it does all that through… the previous students. Very rarely you see successful professionals get into teaching. If they do so is because they really made an impact in the outside world first. This is also the reason why you see people like Zuckerberg get honorary degrees from institutions that they rejected. In a sense, this is the ultimate victory from the professionals and the absolute humiliation from the university’s part. The aforementioned union leader, that now coerces others through the government had a short lived career in personal training. He then went to work for a space that expertise doesn’t matter; College teaching. He is not the only one. The same story repeats over and over no matter the profession or country.

People who are trained from universities or by themselves can be good or bad professionals. There is absolutely no correlation between the two unless you want to get into some really dodgy narrative-statistics. The most prominent argument? “Knowledge”. Mind you, the field upon the argument is made is irrelevant. One can find something similar in almost every field. Take a look at the research finding below;

A survey of 115 health fitness professionals revealed that a bachelor's degree in the field of exercise science and possession of American College of Sports Medicine or the National Strength and Conditioning Association certifications as opposed to other certifications were strong predictors of a personal trainer's knowledge, whereas years of experience was not related to knowledge. These findings suggest that personal fitness trainers should have licensing requirements, such as a bachelor's degree in exercise science and certification by an organization whose criteria are extensive and widely accepted, before being allowed to practice their craft.

The first part is absolutely true. People who are trained from a specific organization in order to get a specific certification acquire that specific knowledge. Non-trainees do not. One does not need research to come to this conclusion but I guess we need to excuse all those grants in “research” somehow. (topic for another time).

The second part of the study is completely baseless. Not having the specific state-approved knowledge should not be a factor for disallowing someone from practicing. The state-approved certificate or the university is not the ultimate fountain of knowledge. Nothing is. The claim from the study sounds more like the medieval Catholic Church trying to convince it’s subjects that they are the only legitimate path to reach God. The arguments are exactly the same (years of experience, professionals in the field, power, etc). The punishment for not following suit, similar. Fine and then imprisonment.

The argument though still persists in most people’s minds as it did back in Medieval Europe. "Isn’t a state-approved professional less likely to cause an injury at the gym?" one might ask. The objective answer is that we simply do not know. We do not have any evidence for this allegation as this kind of research would be impossible to test and replicate. This is also the main reason why sports science is not really a science. It’s an art. Everybody is different and cannot be isolated for proper scientific insights. Only broad conclusions can be made. The human body is too versatile in its movements.

Kevin Durant, top NBA player, had an army of doctors, physiotherapists, fitness professionals and yet he got misdiagnosed and suffered great professional and personal setbacks. If this happened from professionals with no state-approved degrees we all know what the narrative would be. These stories are the rule, not the exception in professional sports. Yet, the union lobbyists choose to omit these cases since they weaken their argument that they fight for the "good of the people". They do not. They are just trying to kick out the competition by force because their "expertise" and results are indistinguishable from somebody who is an autodidact.

Unless you are inept with basic instructions, following a youtube video won’t make much of difference compared to someone who is a state approved professional demonstrating an exercise live in the gym. For one, they might as well have bought their degree from a dodgy university like our union leader above while the passionate youtuber might have actually done the work and learned more. The youtuber gets followers based on satisfaction. You can see their reviews in the comments. The union leader only tries to secure a qualification by force, regardless of performance. Only someone with significantly low confidence in their abilities resorts to such pathetic tactics. There is a reason people prefer to buy things from approved sellers on ebay while avoiding those who try to sell them things at the door. Now imagine if the cops came at your door as well, forcing you to make a purchase because the online product “does not meet the state’ s requirements”.

The elephant in the room is that more and more people are getting injured at the gym. This happens in an era were more and more state approved professionals are working as fitness professionals. This is true for almost every western country. One would ponder; why on earth we get so many more state approved professionals yet injuries are skyrocketing? Shouldn’t it be the opposite? Same thing happens with psychologists and psychiatrists while depression and suicide are on the rise. Imagine being sick for eating a specific food and the solution the state-approved professionals suggest involve eating the same food. And no, the answer is not because everyone claims to be a professional trainer and thus the industry is filled with phonies. A few decades ago there was absolutely no regulation and the injuries were far less across the board.

The answer to all these shenanigans is rather simple. Physical and fitness education, social sciences and the like are not formal sciences. These state approved professionals follow specific book-approved practices that are not suitable for everybody. They don’t have the answers more than self-educated people do. If someone gets injured under a state approved professional then the excuse is that something went wrong with the exercise or it was the customer’s fault. If something goes wrong with a non-state professional then it was definitely misinformation and bad knowledge from the trainer. This is some next level meta-bias.

The matter of fact is that an individual like our friend in the introduction, with passion to change and help themselves, is far more likely to acquire the proper knowledge for the profession. He will know first hand all the struggles associated with the process from diet to psychology to exercise. He will be very careful not to repeat the same mistakes with his clients. While his peers were going to school and were forced to memorize material in order to pass exams or meet deadlines, he was studying day and night with no research boundaries and no time related restrictions. He was self motivated while his union friend tried to satisfy his father by acquiring a higher degree. Who would you choose to train you if you knew that all these details were playing in the background? The self motivated professional who transformed themselves or the loser who is trying to force others into accepting his skills and knowledge through the force of the state?

For most professions, the university is useless. State-approved university degrees and state approved employment aim for one thing and one thing only. Control. And the State knows control better than anyone else. It has convinced everybody that some bureaucrats sitting in some chairs know more than the people trying to make a living. The matter or fact is that those who strive to control others the most, do so because they fear being excluded themselves. They know deep down that they are not good enough. They give up the practice and begin political propaganda and/or teaching in order to survive.

I know no skilled professionals that have become union leaders, politicians or bureaucrats. Only those who got rejected from the real world seek refuge in the government's pouch. Weak knowledge and expertise usually needs the state’s authority in order to survive.

Citizens should be free to choose professionals considering they present themselves with what qualification (or not) they have. The customers are citizens that vote, bear children and drive cars. They should be able to engage in free association and signing legal documents that their trainer bears no responsibility for any injuries that might be caused in the process of training. This is how good ideas perpetuate. Not by force but with freedom.

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