Clear Up The Confusion About Personal Training Certifications

There are personal training certifications that are better for different situations. Almost every day we receive a dozen e-mails from people asking about training certifications so let’s take a look at them.

There are some that are definitely more credible than others, some which are more respected in the medical and wellness arenas and some that require both technical knowledge and practical fitness training expertise.

Almost every gym, fitness center, etc. promotes the fact that they have certified personal trainers.

On all advertisements for these types of businesses and personal trainers themselves, you'll find the word "certified".

But what does this actually mean?

Believe it or not, there are many personal training certificates that are worth nothing!

For the most part, there is no governing body for personal fitness training certifications.

Almost anyone can begin their own personal training schools. This creates quite a problem because there isn't any distinctive governing criteria by which those individuals who bring new personal fitness training certifications to the public would design their testing procedures.

Not only is the general public confused about the types of personal training certifications that are available, but many personal trainers, gym owners and other fitness training experts are also confused.

Personal trainers and those looking for fitness training jobs are well aware that they need personal training certifications, but which ones count? Are there any personal training certifications that are significantly better than others?

On this page and throughout this section on personal fitness training certifications, you'll learn about some that are considered to be higher-quality personal training certifications. The personal fitness trainer certification comparison here will cover some of the basic requirements in order to apply as well as the benefits of applying.

"Personal Fitness Trainer Certification Comparison"

There are only a couple personal fitness training certifications listed on this page. Other personal training certifications that are nationally recognized and are very important have their own pages in this personal training section.

Just use the link near the bottom of this page to return to the previous personal fitness training page to navigate to the other recommended personal fitness training certifications.


AFAA stands for the Aerobics And Fitness Association Of America. It was formed to allow aerobic instructors to hone their skills in a safe, beneficial manner.

It is widely recognized as one of the leading aerobic training certification. With industry growth they have developed additional personal fitness training certifications and specialization programs ranging from general personal training and primary aerobic certifications up to fitness practitioners; which is primarily geared towards connecting to health care and fitness industries.

For the fitness practitioner personal fitness training certifications you need a minimum of a bachelors degree. The AFAA realizes that personal trainers must develop skills that enable them to focus on screening, communication with medical professionals, and one-on-one result oriented interaction.

These personal fitness training certifications also include practical components. This is because you can only learn so much theory before you have to apply what you learn. They require you to possess good knowledge, presentation and leadership skills.


IFPA stands for the International Fitness Professionals Association. In short, it was formed to bring together fitness training education and experience.

The International Fitness Professionals Association helps to bring fitness science into a language that's not only useful but easy for personal trainers to understand.

They offer a complete educational training program and support system for ongoing fitness training needs and questions. They do make a good effort to ensure that every one who has one of their personal fitness training certifications is prepared completely for a career and personal training.

Each of their personal fitness training certifications and programs including continuing education and distance learning is designed to be convenient, affordable, practical, and professional.

Like most other good, high-quality personal fitness training certifications they do offer personal training workshops. This classroom work is available to assist new personal trainers in clearing up any confusion that may arise.


NSCA stands for the National Strength And Conditioning Association. Primarily it has its foundation in sports training.

The majority of professional strength coaches at universities and professional athletic teams employ individuals who have personal training certifications from this organization.

The National Strength And Conditioning Association tries to bring together the world's leading sports training, strength and conditioning specialists in order to improve the working knowledge and abilities of personal trainers and other fitness training professionals.

The National Strength And Conditioning Association is one of the very few organizations providing personal fitness training certifications that are fully accredited by the National Committee for Certifying Agencies, NCCA a federally recognized accrediting agency.

Involved in the National Strength And Conditioning Association are leading fitness training professionals that not only have extensive academic training but also practical expertise in the development of fitness training programs, sports training programs, etc. and exam structure that will ensure the questions are appropriately constructed in order to identify the required knowledge and skills needed.

The NSCA personal fitness training certifications include a practical segment. They also supply a very good personal training insurance program that's only available to certified members.

It is widely known and accepted that individuals with these personal training certifications are very knowledgeable, confident and competent in their ability to train not only the general public but high level, professional athletes in a very safe and effective manner.

ISSA Personal Training Certifications

ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association) personal training certifications are recognized world-wide and are given a very high level of respect.

Fitness trainers, athletic trainers, aerobic instructors and medical professionals in every field of health care covet the ISSA personal trainer certifications.

The ISSA personal training certifications also set the standards for other certifications for personal training in the fields of exercise assessment, nutritional planning, fitness instruction, sports medicine practice and post rehabilitation training.

Certain aspects of the ISSA certifications for personal training are also taught in numerous colleges and universities around the world.

In addition to the tens of thousands of personal trainers world-wide that hold ISSA certifications for personal training hundreds of physicians, chiropractors, coaches, physical therapists, athletic trainers, and health & fitness professionals have various ISSA certifications for personal training.

Another big benefit of the ISSA certifications for personal training is the fact that, unlike other certifications for personal training, there are no extra or hidden fees that you have to pay for after you enrol.

In addition, during and after you complete your personal trainer certifications course or courses, you will still receive unlimited technical support.

This will help you if you have problems with any study material, client questions, training questions or any other problem or questions you have related to personal training.

personal training certifications

Along with your ISSA personal trainer certifications course you also get training and information on how to open and run your own personal training business.

This is an important and very valuable extra benefit because this is the area where you can earn a huge personal trainer salary. Some gyms will only pay you $10 an hour or so but if you have your own personal training business you can charge anywhere from $75 to $500 per session.

Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of the ISSA personal trainer certifications is that Charles Staley, B.Sc., MSS is the Vice President of Program Development.

If you don't know who Charles Staley is then you need to find out. Mr. Staley is one of the foremost authorities in the health & fitness business and his personal training programs are among the best and most successful.

This is another thing about personal training certifications that you have to take into account. If your training ability and knowledge cannot guarantee success for your clients you'll have a very though time staying in the personal trainer business or making any money at it.

Here is a little bit of information about Mr. Staley to better understand why the ISSA certifications for personal training are at the top.

Charles I. Staley, B.Sc., MSS, is a sports conditioning specialist and Vice President of Program Development for the International Sports Sciences Association. Mr. Staley is also an Olympic weightlifting coach, as well as a master's level track and field competitor.

He has coached elite athletes from many sports, including martial arts, boxing, track & field, football, Olympic weightlifting, and bodybuilding. Staley has written over 150 published articles, and has lectured extensively on the topics of human performance and sport training.

He has recently authored a text on conditioning for the martial arts, and has several other books in the planning stages. Staley's award-winning site, is ranked among the top 50 in the world in the health & fitness category.
With the ISSA certifications for personal training and the fact that Charles Staley is involved, you can be confident that you are getting the best.


AFPA (American Fitness Professionals & Associates) is a practical and current training certification course that is based on current exercise science, sports medicine and nutrition guidelines.

The AFPA has 17 different personal training certifications in the main fields of personal training. This helps you determine what certification program is the most appropriate for your needs and goals.

Attention Fitness Professionals!

If you want to become a personal trainer or if you are already certified and want to increase your knowledge of human anatomy, then 'Animated Anatomy' is just what you need.

It is the easiest and quickest way to become an expert in human anatomy in just a few short weeks.

The AFPA also provides many "continuing education credits" for many of the better personal training certifications courses. This is one aspect that all of the top personal training certifications require to keep training certifications current.

In order to keep your personal trainer certifications up to date, in both knowledge and training ability, you must maintain current certification by submitting "continuing education credits".

Usually your initial certification is valid for approximately one or two years. You then need to obtain extra credits during this two-year period and submit them in order to prove that you are up to date in the personal trainer industry and to retain your certification.

The AFPA makes this easy regardless of what personal trainer certifications you currently hold.
While the AFPA does not require any pre-requisites they do suggest that it would be to your benefit to have some education in the field of human anatomy.

Some of their more specialized personal trainer certifications do require that you have a minimum of a 400 documented hours of one-on-one personal training experience.


The National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT) was founded in 1988 and their certifications for personal training are now among the most certifications for personal training world-wide.

The NFPT currently has over 100 professional testing sites in the United States, Canada, Mexico and elsewhere.

The NFPT provides:

  • Affordable, convenient, comprehensive, and applicable personal trainer education;
  • Credentials for consumer recognition of competence;
  • Provides certified affiliates with ongoing education;
  • Has a network of support and provides professional & profitable services to each certified trainer;
  • Facilitates and encourages the exchange of ideas, knowledge, business experiences, and financial opportunities between all fitness administrators internationally;
  • A very informative and up to date member magazine.


The Nesta (National Endurance & Sports Trainers Association) personal training certifications have been around since 1992.
The majority of personal training certifications offered by Nesta are inexpensive when compared to others.

Nesta also offers an extremely large number of diverse personal training certifications. Chances are that if you are looking for very specific personal training certifications you'll find it with Nesta.

NESTA certifications for personal training have been around since 1992 and are growing rapidly. They have currently certified over 8,000 top personal trainers in more than 20 countries.

Personal trainer organizations like NESTA do follow a code of ethics and have high standards. This is very important because some just send you on your way after you pay a large certification fee.

Nesta does have some minimum qualifications you need to meet before you can be accepted, they include:

  • A minimum age of sixteen and possess good reading skills;
  • You should have some basic resistance training, aerobic, martial arts, or yoga experience;
  • You need to be familiar with resistance equipment and exercise machines.

NESTA does require CEUs for re-certification of its personal fitness trainers. Nesta requires 4.0 CEUs or 40 contact hours every 4 years to maintain certification.

Nesta's certifications for personal training courses tend to be less expensive than a lot of others.

Become a personal trainer and have a successful career in personal training. If you have any questions about personal training certifications, almost any certification in personal training in fact, there is a lot of help out there for you. This wasn't the case 15 or 20 years ago, but it is now.

Ace Personal Fitness Trainers

Aerobics Certifications

ACSM Training Certification

Yoga Instructor Certification

Are You A Personal Trainer?

If you are a personal trainer please let others know what personal training certification you have, and why you like it. How has it helped you succeed in you your personal training career? Are you an independent personal trainer or do you work at a fitness center? Do you think being an independent trainer or working at a gym is best? Tell us why.

Every personal trainer has a story to tell. Share yours

What Other Visitors Have Said

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The Best Personal Training Certification Is Ace 
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CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) 
I am a personal trainer/sports performance coach here in Orlando, FL and have worked with the University of Florida Athletic Association as an assistant …

CPTN NSCA And NPTI Certifications 
I have a CPTN Certified Personal Trainer Certification (CPTN-CPT) and I'm also presently enrolled in a fitness leadership certificate program at the YMCA …

So Many Personal Training Certifications To Choose From! 
Hi... I'm confused about what personal training certifications are the best. I recently relocated from California to Oklahoma... (yes, I really did …

A.C.E. (American Council on Exercise) 
Hi, My name is Joe Alagno and I have earned an A.C.E. Personal Training certification. This was the first thing that I did right out of college with my …

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personal fitness trainer certification comparison