ISSA Certified Personal Trainer Certification

Personal training can be a lucrative and fulfilling career path because it allows you to help others find their passion for fitness. The International Sports Science Association (ISSA) is a well-known personal training certification body that offers 10 nationally recognized programs, including personal training, bodybuilding, health training, and corrective exercise specialist certifications. This review will take a detailed look at their Certificate of Personal Training (CPT).

ISSA was founded in 1988 and has been helping people find their passion for fitness ever since. Their personal training certification is best for people who are “passionate about fitness and want professional, hands-on programming to get results.” To become certified, you must pass the open-book final exam with a score of 75 percent or higher, although the overall pass rate is 90 percent. This certification covers the basics of personal training for the general population, how to run a personal training business, and how to help clients achieve their fitness goals. This certification is best suited for those who are new to personal training and do not have an academic background in kinesiology or fitness, but still want to work in a gym or start their own business.

Who is ISSA?

ISSA is the International Sports Science Association, founded in 1988. Since its inception, it has issued over 475,000 personal training certificates and is one of the most recognized personal training certificates on the market. The company’s mission is to “Bring healthy lifestyles to everyone in the world through education and community.” Its core values include prioritizing personal connection, health sharing, drive enjoyment, and life resilience and sustainability.

In addition to the three main areas of personal trainer certification, ISSA offers hundreds of continuing education courses such as Nutrition and Professional Development, Bodybuilding Specialist, DNA Fitness Trainer, and Back Injury Prevention. It was the first personal training program to require continuing education in order to maintain your personal training certificate, which was announced in 1992.

Highlights of ISSA Personal Trainer Certification


Since 1989, ISSA has certified more than 475,000 students in numerous certifications. The program offers a textbook, boot camps, videos, support materials, a fast track to certification, a self-study course, and a success coach to help you prepare for the final exam. According to ISSA, there are 90 percent of test takers and 95 percent of passers are employed within the first six months of receiving their personal trainer certification.

There are three routes you can take on their website: Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), Fitness Trainer, and Elite Trainer (which requires a combination of certifications). The most basic package provides only personal training certification, the fitness trainer offers regular training certification, as well as a specialization such as powerlifting instruction or corrective exercise specialist. The last level is Elite Trainer, which includes CPT, specialization and a nutrition trainer course.

Personal trainer certification is accomplished by studying a textbook (online unless you choose to purchase a hard copy of the textbook) or online audio lessons. The core course covers anatomy and physiology, nutrition, health and fitness, program development, and injury and disease. The test consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. They also allow free retests for up to 30 days after the original test date—a huge advantage over others on the market that can have hefty retest fees of $100 or more.

Who should be certified as an ISSA Personal Trainer?

  • Future trainers who want to work with the general public. This is a general certification that does not target specific demographics or populations, such as athletes or people with injuries.
  • People who want to get different personal training packages, for example, an additional specialization (such as a glute specialist), or those who want to double their level with a nutrition certificate.
  • For those who want an affordable certification that doesn’t force you to pay a retest fee.

Who should not be certified as an ISSA Personal Trainer

  • Those who already have extensive experience in kinesiology or fitness. The ISSA Personal Trainer Certification covers more basic information that you would have already covered in a degree.
  • People who prefer a printed textbook but don’t want to overpay. You get the online tutorial for free, but you have to pay $40 if you want to get a physical copy.
  • People who want to work with professional and college athletes can choose a degree over a certificate.

How much does ISSA CPT certification cost?

Depending on which route you want to use your certification, you will have different payment options. For those who want a simple personal trainer certification, you will pay $69 per month for 12 months, which equates to approximately $830.00 in total. For a fitness trainer level that provides CPT and specialization, you will pay about $79 per month, which is about $950. Finally, for Elite Coach, you will pay $99 per month for 12 months, which is approximately $1,190.

All three purchase options include a flexible training schedule and the option to take an open-book test accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). You’ll also have unlimited learning support from their success coaches and guaranteed employment or your money back. Like most organizations, ISSA requires you to renew your certification every two years. This means you will have to earn 20 continuing education credits (CEUs) every two years. If you earn these CEUs through ISSA, you do not need to pay a renewal fee, but if you choose to go outside of ISSA for these CEUs, you will pay a $99 renewal fee.

Training materials for personal trainers certified by ISSA

ISSA offers many options to study and learn the information you will need to pass the final exam for your CPT. You will have access to the textbook online, but if you want a hard copy of the text, you will have to pay an additional $40 to purchase it. They also break it down into a 10-week plan that determines the pace of your learning. ISSA offers video lectures with key points of each chapter and audio lectures that are broken down into smaller parts for easy listening and memorization. You must also complete 18 tests that will set you up for success on the final exam.

You get access to some useful bonus features for free with your account. ISSA is creating an educational boot camp, a living study guide that includes tips on how to pass the exam. You also get access to an ISSA CPT “genius” who can help you in areas where you are stuck or struggling. A Genie is a professional working at ISSA who can answer any questions you may have and help you with any issues you may have with the program. Finally, you’ll have access to five one-hour training sessions with an ISSA genius that you can do live or on-demand.

Teaching aids
ISSA’s CPT exam study guides are enough to set you up for success. You have an online tutorial that is divided into sections. There are also audio lectures divided into 10 weeks. Each week consists of reading assignments, lecture videos that highlight important information from each chapter, and quizzes to assess your understanding of the material. If you choose to follow the 10-week program, you’ll want to set aside two to four hours of study time per day, depending on your study habits and needs.

To get access to the final exam, you will need to pass 18 tests (with unlimited attempts). They are all multiple-choice quizzes designed to give you an idea of what to expect on the final exam. With the help of tests, you will know which questions you answered correctly and which ones you can study a little more to fully prepare for the test.

Online forum
ISSA runs a CPT Educational Bootcamp that you can take part in. They meet once a week for five weeks to help you with your studies and introduce you to your fellow students. These bootcamps help you find a success coach who can answer any questions you may have, keep you motivated throughout your certification process, and monitor you throughout the process. Also included are “office hours”, i.e. face-to-face meetings with an ISSA genius.

Educational material Medium
ISSA provides a versatile learning platform that has an environment that works well for most learners. While most of the material is online—the digital textbook, forums, success coaches, lectures, and mastermind meetings—you have the option of purchasing a hard copy of the textbook for $40. This certification is mostly designed to be used online, and the resources available to you during the certification course are best used online.

ISSA believes in the quality of its certification so much that the certificates come with several guarantees. Their first guarantee is that you will find a job within six months of completing and passing your final exam. If you can prove that you’ve applied to three gyms within the first six months and can’t find a job, they’ll give you a full refund of the certification fee.


ISSA is a well-recognized CPT and is widely accredited by some of the largest organizations. They are accredited by the National Commission on Accrediting Agencies (NCAA), which is nationally recognized and respected. They are also accredited by the Distance Education and Teaching Council (DETC), which is recognized by the Department for Education.


ISSA is certainly one of the most recognized and respected certifications on the market. Its beginning was one of the first in the world, especially because it does not require previous education to obtain a certificate. It even partners with gyms like Life Time Fitness, Anytime Fitness, Equinox, F45, 24 Hour Fitness, and Gold’s Gym.

Final word

If you’re interested in getting certified as a personal trainer, whether it’s for your personal knowledge in the gym or to make it a career path, the ISSA may be the certification that best suits your needs. With a 90 percent pass rate, free retests, well-recognized accreditations, and a solid training schedule, you can’t go wrong with this certification.

It provides you with the tools to successfully complete the course and gain the knowledge that will help you become a top-level coach. This certificate also allows you to further your education and career with their seemingly endless continuing education credits. As an internationally recognized certification, we believe ISSA is an excellent certification course for those with no academic experience who want to pursue a career in personal training.

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