After researching what personal training organization I wanted to go with (See all the options I chose from here), I chose ISSA!
ISSA Personal Training Certification
ISSA is the International Sports Sciences Association and the ISSA Personal Trainer Certification is a highly recognized certifications in the fitness industry. They offer a great program that allows you to obtain your ISSA Personal Training Certification at your own pace.
ISSA makes it easy for personal trainers by offering one certification:
The Certified Fitness Trainer (CFT)
The CFT is unique in that it can be taken online including the certification exam! For those studying in rural areas, this is an attractive feature. There’s no longer a need to drive anywhere to take that scary exam! Don’t think that since this certification is all online that it will be a walk in the park though. The evidence is in the textbook. It’s HUGE! Get ready to dive into the world of personal training and read every word of this 727 page book before you take the exam.
What are the costs?
The ISSA personal trainer certification program is straight forward with it’s cost. There are no hidden costs for extra materials you need or exam fees. For around $600, you get all your materials, your exam cost, access to the online training resources and a free tech support hotline where you can get help from trainers. This unlimited phone support is one of the ways that makes this online course less intimidating.
If you fail the test, it’s okay! ISSA Offers Free ISSA Exam Retests
Don’t stress too much about the test. Why? Because if you do end up failing, you can take the exam again for FREE. If you need to take it more than twice, it will cost you a $50 administrative fee each time.
How Long Do I have To Finish My ISSA Online Course?
Another perk to this program is that ISSA gives you 8 months to complete the online course and exam. This is especially beneficial to those who are also trying to hold down a full time job, have children or simply just want to take their time!
You must be 18 years old, have a high school diploma and Adult CPR/AED certified.
The exam has around 160 multiple choice/true or false questions, six 250 word essays and 2 case studies where you make calculations for two test clients and then provide a 12-week program designed to help them meet their goals, along with nutrition recommendations. The exam is open book. You must get a 75% score or better on all sections of the exam to pass.
Once you become certified, it’s not over. Like every personal trainer, you’ll need to take continuing education classes to stay active. While the ISSA personal trainer certification is definitely good, keeping your certification current is not cheap. You must recertify every two years by taking continuing education classes through the ISSA so plan on spending a good chunk of change every two years to keep current.
If you’d like to get some hands on experience before your exam, there is an option to attend a 2-day workshop for an additional $149. You can not take the workshop without being enrolled in the full program.
My Personal ISSA CFT Review
Now that I’ve given you all the details on the program, I’ll give you the real scoop on what I thought about it first-hand.
I decided to take the ISSA course to further my knowledge for training clients via my online personal training progam. I’m all about bettering myself any time I can. Even though I didn’t plan on actually working inside a gym, I wanted to get certified anyway. The more knowledge & experience I have, the better trainer I am 🙂
The book came quickly in the mail and I was able to start my studying less than a week after I enrolled in the course. The book was well written and easy to understand. It was the first time I’ve had a book that I took notes in and highlighted since college. It brought back some memories 🙂
From the time I got my book to the time I took my exam, it took me about a month (and I passed the first time too!). I was working full time at the time but had quite a bit of time to devote to my studying. I hit it hard and was able to take the exam much quicker than a lot of people say.
Even though the exam was open book, it was tough. For the most part, the multiple choice questions were manageable but the case studies and essays were the part that took me the longest.
I split the exam up into two days. I did the multiple choice & true or false questions on the first day. The second day I did the essays and case studies. It was nice to be able to come back to it when I had more time. I am thankful it was all online so I could come back to the exam to finish when I had more time. It also allowed me to think more about the case studies and how I wanted to approach them. I wouldn’t have been able to devote as much time to the case studies if the exam was in a proctored lab on-site.
One thing I wish ISSA had was some hands on experience. I am a hands on type of person who learns best from real life experiences. Since the course was all online, it would have been nice to require an on-site workshop as well.
The thing I liked about the ISSA exam was that it wasn’t all about looking to your book to answer multiple choice questions. You have to demonstrate your proficiency at APPLYING the knowledge on top of knowing it. This is a big bonus for ISSA compared to other certifications.
Overall I feel that ISSA offers a great personal training certification. I think sometimes this certification is underrated in the fitness world. I’ve had friends who are NASM certified tell me that the ISSA exam sounds much harder than the NASM exam. Who knows?!
All I know is I’m happy to have done this course and passed it with an 88% after just a month of studying. Boom!
As you may know, certain gyms require certain certifications. Don’t think that since you got certified by one organization that it will work everywhere. Be sure to do your homework before you pick what organization you get certified through. My tip is to call the gyms that you may want to work at before you enroll to check their personal trainer certification requirements.
The below gyms claimed to hire ISSA Certified Personal Trainers (CFT)
Note: Just because ISSA claims that the above gyms allow ISSA trainers, I’d make a call to your local gym to double check!
Are you ISSA certified? What did you think of the program? Leave any comments below! I’d love to hear from you.