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Which online personal trainer certification?

by Matt
(Louisville, KY )

I am having a lot of trouble choosing a personal trainer certification program. It seems that NASM, ACE, ACSM, and NSCA are the most recognized to choose from. My concern is that I want plenty of time to prepare and really learn the material, not just study to pass a test.

I've noticed most all of these certification options only give you 60-90 days to study and take the test. Not to mention I live in Kentucky and would have to fly somewhere to take the test and check out seminars since none seem to be local.

I would like to order the materials and learn at home at my own pace without stressing about flying somewhere to take a test in 3 months, as I will also be starting school to get a degree in Exercise Psychology.

I noticed the ISSA doesn't seem to be the most talked about method but do seem to provide the best option for materials, study time, phone and online support, testing options, and price. I don't want to waste time and money learning material to take a test from a online company who's certification won't get me a job in my career. Any help would be highly appreciated as I am tired from endless research and want to start learning.

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ACSM
by: Anonymous

The ACSM certification is the best. This organization does all the research and sets all the exercise guidelines that the other certifications follow. The ACSM doesn't have a time limit for ordering the study material and taking the exam. You can schedule to take your exam whenever you like at many testing locations. These locations don't have set testing dates, you decide when you what to take it. I have a degree in Exercise Science and took the ACSM Health/Fitness Instructors exam. This is the certification above the certified personal trainer. You may be interested in looking in to this exam if you are studying for a degree in Exercise Physiology. This certification requires all candidates to have a degree in an exercise/health field prior to taking the exam. This certification allows you to work with moderate risk individuals and high risk individuals that have been cleared by a physician, something that cPT are not suppose to do, unless they have the proper degree. You can check out more about the ACSM at www.ACSM.org.

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Go with NCCA recognized
by: Anonymous

ISSA is better then nothing, however if you are going to get a degree in Exercise related fields, then ISSA will not live up to your expectations. Go with ACSM, everyone knows of them, people reference their research / guidelines. If you are really serious about training, be the best you can be.

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ISSA is a good start
by: Andrew

I have been certified through the ISSA since 2001. I was not aware until now that they offer an exclusive online certification complete with testing. I attended a seminar.

I have worked on and off a personal trainer for the past 6 years. Most places I have worked at (Bally's and 24H)respect and know ISSA. There are harder exams but ISSA is one of the better certifications because they take care of their trainers even after they get certified. They also have a job search engine on their website and a forum for any question you could imagine.

You state that you are getting a degree in Exercise Physiology. This would be a great crash course in anatomy,physiology, nutrition, exercise, health, etc. The book for ISSA is over 500 pages and is very user friendly.

I also have a certification through Cooper and AFAA. Cooper is also repected but not so well known. AFAA I am less than impressed with and they seem more to cater to group exercise instruction than personal training.

I am also working a BS program in Health and Fitness. A certification is a good start. A degree is an even better one as long as you are sure thats what you want to do.

Good luck with whatever you choose.


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Living in Texas
by: Anonymous

Check out PFIT run by Dahelia and Wayne Hunt this thorough personal training cert is outstanding. They also have a nutrition and rehabilitation cert too.
You will learn more than with most cert courses.

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ACSM
by: j.t. wood

By far the ACSM cert. is the so called "GOLD STANDARD". EVERY place I've contacted and asked about certifications says that this is true.

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ACSM no doubt
by: Colin

I agree with most others on this page ACSM is probably the best. They are almost always quoted for their standards for exercise and are a very reputable and recognized organization. Their fees are reasonable, their test is thorough and the certification will hold weight. I often site ACSM in my research and am proud to be a certified professional among them.

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ISSA is Garbage
by: Anonymous

Hey Matt,

If you would like to get a job as a personal trainer at a reputable club you’ll need a certification that has met the standards and approval of the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Very few Certifications have the NCCA seal and ISSA is definitely not one of them! I’ve managed fitness centers for over 10 years now and hire trainers on a daily basis. I’ve also held numerous certifications including NSCA-CSCS, NASM-CPT, and ACSM-CPT. Speaking from experience, NASM is the best certification for dealing with the general population. It’s the only certifying agency that teaches you how to recognize and correct muscular and postural imbalances. The following certifications have the NCCA seal, ACE, NASM, ACSM, NSCA, NCSF, NFPT, and NESTA.

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ISSA is Garbage
by: Anonymous

The reason the ISSA is not recognized by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies is because the test is an untimed exam that you can take at home. You can also pause the exam and take the remainder of the test at a later date. Honestly, would you hire a trainer with this cert? I wouldn’t.

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