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What Others Are Saying About W.I.T.S.

Sorting Out Certifications

Fitness Spotlight

** The following article is provided for the edification of our WEB readers, who are striving to be their very best!

With the proliferation of groups doing certification it has become a complex picture.

"Getting certified" as a Personal Fitness Trainer or Group Exercise Instructor first began about 21 years ago. The need to qualify an instructor's ability to lead people in safe exercise was a good thing. The fitness industry stepped up to lead, rather than waiting for state regulations.

The media soon began telling consumers to ask about certification. And now the media faces a harder task - that of helping the public unravel the maze of regional, national, and international certifications.

Most certifications are accepted at face value due to their longevity or marketing clout. But, what do the certifications really say about a health club or instructor? What is the philosophy of a club regarding training? Can instructors safely lead from a "national or international" certification after graduating?

The criteria in chart A raises answers as well as questions regarding certification qualifiers. The information was compiled from 11 certification companies' brochures and follow up phone calls to their headquarters. The categories and results may surprise you.

Many management teams select training/certifications based on convenience; in other words, the certifiers will come to the club and complete their task in one or two days. Other management teams make their choice based on the cost factor.

Although these reasons are understandable, what is the message insofar as the facilities' commitment to health care?

A happy, safe ground can be found for both clients and health clubs.

The average aerobic training for well-known training/certification programs is 8.2 hours. The average personal training hours of training/certification is 12 hours. Can a newly certified instructor with 8.2 hours function effectively? And, how much of this total training focuses on practical versus textbook?

Incidentally, two excellent advanced programs - the Cooper Institute and ACSM - have prerequisites to attend their five-day schools.

How do people get up the first rung in the ladder when no one should or would hire an instructor without experience? The certifiers have only three in each area of aerobics or personal training that even focus on the novice. However, all certifications polled claim that their programs could easily be used by novices.

Selection, progression, and standardization of certifications have evolved on simple supply-and-demand criteria. If you want better, ask questions: What did their certification training involve? How many hours of hands-on experience did the trainer get? Have the club trainers all passed tests in both practical and core knowledge application?

You can never ask enough questions when it involves your well-being .

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Certification Cost Core Hours Practical Hours Internship Written Practical Exam Cost Pre-Requisites Days Taught Textbook Included Retest College Credits IACET Recognized BOC Recognized AOTA Recognized Veteran's Training
W.I.T.S. $650 16 16 Y Y Y Included Y 9 N $75 Y Y Y Y Y
AAAI/ISMA $99 7 1 N Y Y Included Y 1 N $30 N N N N N
ACSM $375 14 7 N Y N $219 Y 3 N $150 N N N N N
AFAA $499 25 N/A N Y Y Included Y 3 N   N N N N N
COOPER $595 22.5 10 N Y N $289 Y 4.5 Y $195 N N N N N
NASM/NPTI $599-999 40 40 N Y N $280 Y Home Study Y $199 N N N N Y
NPTI $5,900 300 200 N Y N $280 Y     $199          
ACE $499-699 Home Study Home Study N Y N Included Y Home Study Y $200 N N N N N
AFPA $395 Home Study Home Study N Y N Included Y Home Study Y $50 N N N N N
IFPA $399 Home Study Home Study N Y N Included Y Home Study Y $79 N N N N N
ISSA $599 Home Study Home Study N Y N Included Y Home Study Y N N N N N N
NFPT $329-569 Home Study Home Study N Y N $329 Y Home Study Y $119 N N N N N
NSCA $235-420 Home Study Home Study N Y N $420 Y Home Study N $320 N N N N N


National Certifications
W.I.T.S. World Instructor Training Schools
AAAI/ISMA American Aerobic Association International / International Sports Medicine Association
ACE American Council on Exercise
ACSM American College of Sports Medicine
AFFA Aerobic & Fitness Association of America
AFPA American Fitness Professionals and Associates
COOPER Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research
IFPA International Fitness Professionals Associations
ISSA International Sports Science Association
NASM National American Sports Medicine
NFPT National Federation of Personal Trainers
NSCA National Strength & Conditioning Association
NAFC National Association for Fitness Certification
Recognized and Accreditations
ACE American Council on Education
IACET International Association for Continuing Education and Training
BOC Board of Certifications
AOTA American Occupational Therapists Association
Updated: January 2013

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