The 5 Best Personal Trainer Certification Programs Money Can Buy

11/24/2020, Chicago // KISSPR //

More than most other industries, personal training has survived the COVID-19 pandemic surprisingly well. Not only have successful trainers been able to transition their existing clients from in-person, indoor sessions to outdoor or virtual, trainers nationwide have noticed an uptick in client demand due to the pandemic’s negative effect on our physical activity levels.

Turns out, staying at home more often means moving less. And moving less is exactly the problem trainers set out to fix.

If you’re looking to become a personal trainer and you’d like to get certified, you’re not alone. There are literally dozens of options to choose from, and not all programs are created equally. More than any other programs, though, there are three companies in particular that stand out above the rest for their quality of instruction, decades of experience, and stellar reputation.

The best personal training certification programs are:

1. American Council on Exercise (ACE)

2. National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

3. International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)

Let’s go over these three programs in more detail and show you how to find the best deals for each program.

1. American Council on Exercise (ACE)

More than any other program, ACE Fitness deserves a spot at the top of our list. There are three primary reasons why ACE is a cut above the rest: the range of specializations they offer, the level of support students receive, and their reputation among top gyms and health and fitness institutions across the country.

First, their specializations. The “personal trainer” umbrella encompasses a lot of different methods, including group fitness, nutrition, behavior change, sports performance, and more. In fact, ACE offers about 15 different specialist options for students to take advantage of, making their program a perfect fit for just about anyone looking to get into the fitness space.

Students at ACE receive unparalleled levels of support and accountability throughout their training program. From Facebook Groups, Video Learning, and Live Study Webinars, all of your most pressing questions are just a click away from being answered by a trained ACE Fitness instructor.

Lastly, the ACE Fitness name is recognized worldwide as being a leader in fitness education. In fact, Gold’s Gym chose ACE as their exclusive fitness training provider across all their locations. Given that Gold’s is the world’s largest gym chain, this is quite high praise.

As of this writing, ACE is currently offering 50% off all study programs. Click the link to learn more.

2. National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

Having earned its reputation as a science-based training program, NASM is a worldwide leader in fitness education.

NASM was founded in 1987 and is best known for their highly-respected Optimum Performance Training (OPT) learning model developed by Dr. Mike Clark. The OPT Model emphasizes stabilization, strength, hypertrophy (muscle growth), maximal strength, and power. It serves as the bedrock for NASM’s entire training program and has been trusted by fitness professionals and world-class athletes for over 20 years.

Like ACE, NASM also offers a wide array of specializations and advanced credentials, including classes in nutrition, group instruction, women’s fitness, senior fitness, MMA conditioning, and more.

The most popular program retails for $1499, but their current promotion takes 40% off their regular price for a limited time. Best of all, you can make monthly, interest-free payments for the duration of your program.

3. International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)

True to its name, the ISSA Certification carries just as much weight internationally as it does here in the United States. Known as the “international” certification, ISSA is one of the few certification programs that can be completed entirely overseas.

On a related note, ISSA is also a completely virtual program. While this distinction may have been seen as a negative by students who would prefer in-person instruction, COVID-19 has changed that entirely. Over the past year, ISSA has seen a surge in popularity due to its long history as a virtual program. While other programs have had to quickly adjust to this new normal we find ourselves living in, ISSA has been unfazed.

ISSA’s four training levels are Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Coach, Elite Trainer, and Master Trainer. As their names imply, each level incorporated added levels of specialization and expertise. Naturally, each level corresponds to a different price point, with the Master Trainer coming in at around $3000.

Each level comes with a comprehensive fitness guide, workbook, a marketing and business guide, practice exam, sample quiz, online student forum, and unlimited support from certified ISSA-trained fitness experts.

ISSA is also unique in that it offers a job placement guarantee. If you complete the program and are unable to find employment within 60 days of completion, you will receive your entire tuition payment back. That’s a hefty promise to make, and is indicative of ISSA’s confidence in their training program.

Click here to check out ISSA’s latest program specials, as they are also known to offer steep discounts to their training bundles during the holidays.


Regardless of which program you choose, all three of these organizations have established their reputation for excellence in the fields of fitness and health. ACE, NASM, and ISSA are the three leaders in the personal training industry and any student who completes one of their programs should have no problem finding employment, or setting out on their own to open up their personal training business.

If you are looking to make the entrepreneurial leap and go into business for yourself, be sure to take advantage of the resources offered in the program that you choose that relate specifically to becoming a business owner. While the fitness work itself may look the same, the steps needed to thrive as an employee and employer couldn’t be more different.

Most of all, keep in mind that a fitness training program is only as valuable as you allow it to be. Keep an open mind at all times and don’t forget to make personal connections along the way. In the end you’ll find that these were the most valuable of all!

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