ISSA Fitness Therapy Certification vs. Personal Trainer Certifications

by Monica

ISSA Certified Fitness Therapist since 2004

ISSA Certified Fitness Therapist since 2004

I get emails about becoming a certified trainer a lot so I thought I would write a quick post about why I chose to become an ISSA Certified Fitness Therapist vs. NASM, NSCA ACE or NESTA personal trainer.

When I first got certified in 2000 I chose IFPA because it was fast, easy, and cheap. They claim to be the leader in PRACTICAL fitness education and I can tell you that is true. IFPA provided me with enough knowledge to review and write about exercise dvd's, weightloss and fitness books, and other fitness products for It also got me a part time job at Bally's when I first moved to AZ but....

I knew IFPA was only a starter cert and that if I decided to become a full time trainer or start my own training business I would need something much better so I looked into ACE, NASM, NSCA NESTA, CHEK, and ISSA personal trainer certifications.

I chose ISSA Fitness Therapy for a variety of reasons but mainly because it allowed me to specialize from the start. Initially when I started training I thought I wanted to work with other moms struggling to lose post pregnancy weight. Turns out I'm much better at working with older folks who seek out training for fatloss as well as a variety of serious issues including pain, cancer, arthritis, posture correction, depression, chronic fatigue, breathing problems, insomnia, etc.

No other entry level certification trains you to handle special needs like the ISSA Fitness Therapy cert. In addition to this ISSA places a lot of value on all CHEK courses that are required to become a CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach and CHEK Exercise Coach/Practitioner which is what I saw myself doing in the future (finally have all my pre-reqs for both).

So my choice had a lot to do with a bigger plan and not just getting a job as a trainer. Of course a lot has changed since then and I'm not working with clients 8-10 hours a day anymore because I'm spending a majority of my time running this site but all of the courses I've taken over the years to maintain my cert are what give me a unique perspective on fitness that you won't find on many other small blogs/sites like mine.

My education and experience working with the special needs population is what has made one of the most highly ranked sites online and what draws visitors ages 35-65 on a regular basis (most sites/blogs like mine cater to a much younger crowd).

So my advice when choosing a certification is to plan ahead and think of the bigger picture. What do you want to do with your life beyond getting your first training "job". Once you know that your decision will be much easier. There really is no best certification and any good fitness expert will tell you that it's continuing education that actually matters most...but there is a cert that is best for you and that all depends on your goals.

What certification did you choose and why? How is that working out for you and do you have any questions for other trainers or advice for people looking to get certified? Please feel free to share below.

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ISSA Fitness Therapy Certification vs. Personal Trainer Certifications

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Occupational Therapy and Fitness/Exercise Therapy
by: Theresa Pham

I really like your website , I've learned a lot from your articles and workout moves as well.
I am studying to become an Occupational Therapy Assistant. I wanted to enroll to the ISSA Personal Trainer program but then their Fitness/Exercise Therapy came to mind. I would like to ask your opinion about which program i should go with. In my mind, I think the Fitness/ Exercise Therapy program is pretty much the same techniques and principles with Occupational Therapy, then should I enroll to this program or go for the Personal Trainer program?
Thank you for your time .
Theresa Pham

difference between ISSA pt and ft cert
by: Monica

Hi Theresa

I'm probably not going to be much help but what you're asking is a very tough question since I don't know what you learn in OT or how you plan to combine OT with fitness training.

My gut feeling says that you're right and you should go with a personal trainer cert. especially if you need to learn the basics of training clients.

The personal trainer cert covers:
basic anatomy and physiology
basic kinesiology and biomechanics
strength theory
fitness theory
training systems
training applications
basic fitness nutrition
weight loss
weight training
sports and fitness exercises
flexibility development
working with clients
working with special populations
sports medicine

I got the personal trainer course materials for free with my fitness therapy cert and can go take the live course any time I want to. It was included with my f.t. cert but not sure if they still do that.

The fitness therapy cert cover:
fitness as therapy
functional fitness
fitness therapy fundamentals
contraindicated exercises
cardio respiratory conditions
metabolic conditions
neurological conditions
orthopedic conditions (this is what I deal with most)
programming for balance and perceptual motor skills
programming for cardio fitness
programming for flexibility and range of motion
programming for strength and endurance
programming for aquatics
emergency procedures
first aid
common medications
medical referrals

You may just want to call ISSA and ask one of their reps (they are very nice people to talk to) and you may also want to find out from potential employers what certs they prefer. You definitely want a cert that is going to get you the job you want : )

I hope all this helps and let me know what you decide.

Thank you !
by: Theresa Pham

Thanks for taking your time to respond to my post. I will do some more research about these two programs. I am tempting to get both of them though.
Thank you !

Seeking Career in Exercise & Nutrition for Mental Illness and Addiction
by: Meghan

I have been working in Sales and Marketing for many years and recently have been looking for a career change. Through my own experience I decided that I would like to work with people who are struggling with Mental Illness and/or Addiction and help them through Nutrition and Exercise. I'm not exactly sure where I should begin, what courses or certifications I should look into. Any advice or direction would be greatly appreciated.


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