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ACTION Certification Reviews (formerly ACT Certification)

Update: a newer version of our ACTION Certification review is now available

Update: ACTION Certification has earned full NCCA Accreditation. And their program is still free making it hundreds of dollars less expensive than similar programs.


I must admit when I first was approached by ACTION Personal Trainer Certification (, formerly ACT Certification) to review their new free personal trainer certification program, my first reaction was “not another certification”.  This industry already has way too many certs which leads to endless confusion. 

But they persisted and invited us to check out their program during their beta testing and I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.


Free Certification

Let’s start with the obvious, the price. 

Yes, you can get ACTION certified without spending a cent with them.  You download their textbook and then you can take the test (online exam is free, but test center fee of $60 applies for NCCA exam). 

At this point I was looking for the catch. 

But after reviewing the textbook and certification exam, it was every bit as sound and comparable to the big name certifications we have been reviewing and discussing for so many years. 

act certification reviewSo why would they give it away for FREE? 

The answer comes in the form of their “Pro Plan”.


The Pro Plan Extras

While the certification is free, ACTION has put together a bundle of extras and priced them at $45 which makes them an irresistible value.  And ACTION Certificationis betting that even the most financially strapped students will want to upgrade.

So what do you get for your money?

First off, is the ability to participate in online instructor lead workshops over the Internet.  Each online class covers either a new chapter in the textbook or special topics of interest for new personal trainers.  An example of one of these special topics is their class on "Trends in Personal Training which is a practical how-to guide to getting started with Boot Camps, Group Classes, Mommy and Me classes, Weight Loss Challenges, Kettlebells, Senior Classes and plenty more.

You can interact with the teacher much like you would in a College lecture course.  This got me really excited because I know most people are lousy book learners and most classroom education options for personal trainers are scarce, expensive and require many months of commitment. 

Other extras include flash cards, practice exams, a business plan (not as good as ours! *see note below*), and various support options including email access to instructors and discussion forums. 

And they recently added $2 million of liability insurance for $105 per year. The amount of money you will save on insurance easily pays for the entire ACTION program.

(Almost) Online Everything

ACTION is one of the few certifications that allow you to take their course and exam 100% online.  The online workshops mean you don’t have to be near a personal training school or a major city to take the exam. It is important to note that if you want an NCCA Accredited certification, you need to take the exam in the testing center, not online.

The NCCA Accredited exam must be taken in test centers in the United States and Canada. It is currently offered in 250 locations making it convenient for most people. Earning full NCCA Accreditation is a big boost for the credibility of the program.

Each student receives a personalized portal page where they can access resources like discussion forums, course schedules, FAQs and study plans. If you can't attend an online class, you can watch a recorded class video directly from your portal whenever you like.

The ACTION Certification Exam

Don’t be fooled by this exam.  It is tougher than I was expecting and really focused on the practical aspects of training.  150 questions, multiple choice with case study scenarios.  You must get at least 70% to pass. 

While ACTION Certification does not charge to take the exam or for retests, the test center does charge a $60 fee to take the exam.


ACTION is saying that trainers must recertify every two years and the cost is $65. CEUs will bring that total to around $150 every two years. This is another huge savings compared to the typical hundreds of dollars the other certifications charge to comply with their recertification requirements. 

Bottom Line

The people at ACTION Certification say they are on a mission to change how the industry operates.  And by offering the first free personal trainer certification program, they are on the way to making some huge changes.  We were impressed with the textbook, the concept of online education, and the student/teacher interaction that is part of their educational focus.  All of this makes ACTION an attractive choice.

But don't take our word for it... read the ACTION Certification Reviews from other students. And if you have tried the program jump in and add your own comments.

Next Page: AFAA Certification

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Update: ACTION agreed that our business plan generator is better than theirs and has licensed our plan for their program. Although the transaction has no effect on our review, we thought we should disclose it. See our policies page for more information.

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