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ISSA Certification Review: Pros & Cons

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Workout equipment is placed on a blue background with the words "ISSA Personal Trainer Certification Review" written over top of the image.

Last Updated: April 25, 2024

With a global reach, top-tier ratings, and over 475,000 students worldwide, the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) is a trusted name for personal trainers. Whether you want to start your fitness career or grow your business, ISSA is an industry leader and a popular choice for personal trainer certification.

Curious about the ISSA personal training certification program? Insurance Canopy lays out what to expect. Learn the costs, pros and cons, and how an ISSA certification can benefit you on your journey to becoming a better trainer.

What Is ISSA?

ISSA is a fitness certification organization with the mission to bring healthier living to 100 million people by 2030 through education and community. The cornerstone of that plan is equipping fitness professionals to find and enjoy successful careers.

Thanks to features like the program’s fast-tracked certifications and Success Coaches, ISSA-certified personal trainers have a high rate of finding jobs after their program. ISSA even offers a risk-free job guarantee and partners with the staffing departments of over 6,000 gyms.

A personal trainer studying online in a gym.

Pros & Cons of ISSA Personal Training

Choosing the right personal training program is a marathon, not a sprint. To jump-start your research, check out the highlights of our ISSA certification review in these pros and cons:


  • ISSA programs offer science-focused education.
  • It adds to your credibility—the program has global recognition with students in 174 countries.
  • You’re set up for success, as the ISSA personal trainer certification exam boasts an 89.9% pass rate.
  • Continuing education units (CEUs) include business training courses to help grow your client base and your income.
  • ISSA has the lowest retest fee in the industry at $50.
  • As a new trainer, you’ll have access to more industry information and study guides.


  • Study material bundles can be costly, leaving you with extra fees.
  • Specialized courses lack focus on corrective exercises you might be looking for.
  • You’ll have to pay for recertification every 2 years.

Not sure ISSA is right for you? See more Insurance Canopy reviews of the best personal trainer certification programs, so you can choose with confidence.

What to Know About ISSA Certifications

Founded in 1988, ISSA was one of the first personal trainer programs to offer distance courses and is still a leader in online certification. Digital textbooks, online forums, and live video coaching keep this program flexible and accessible.

Another thing that sets ISSA courses apart is the Fast Track personal trainer program. For an extra fee, this guided study streamlines the normal 12-week course to help you finish in four weeks. Trainers who want to get into the field faster or have more experience may prefer this route.


Trainers must be at least 18 years old and show proof of current CPR/AED* certifications to enroll in the ISSA personal training certification program.

To get certified, you will need to check all of these boxes:

  • Complete the Certified Personal Trainer program
  • Submit all course quizzes
  • Score 70% or higher on the final exam
  • Have current CPR/AED* certificates

*Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) / Automated External Defibrillator (AED)


All ISSA Certified Personal Trainer programs include online practice quizzes, workbooks, lectures, and more. While the basic version gives you the tools to become certified, other plans add options to specialize (with a higher price tag).

The ISSA personal trainer certification costs break down into four tiers:

  • Certified Personal Trainer: $93.28/month or $994.30/year
  • Fitness Coach: $99.97/month or $999.60/year
  • Elite Trainer: $145.80/month or $1,499.65/year
  • Master Trainer: $174.98/month or $1,749.70/year

Compare personal training programs to find options that fit your goals.

Specialized Certification Programs

ISSA courses aim to help fitness professionals level up their careers, whatever their personal goals. Adding specializations and extra certifications can help you stand out in your field.

Trainers can enroll in the following ISSA Specialization Courses:

  • Online Coach

  • Nutritionist

  • Strength & Conditioning (+ NCCPT Exam)

  • Bodybuilding Specialist

  • CPR/AED Certification Program

  • Glute Specialist

  • Kickboxing Instructor

  • Performance Enhancement Coach

  • Powerlifting Instructor

  • Tactical Conditioning Coach

  • Corrective Exercise Specialist

  • DNA-Based Fitness Coach

  • Exercise Recovery Specialist

  • Exercise Therapy Specialist

  • Health Coach

  • Transformation Specialist

  • Yoga Instructor (+ NCCPT Exam)

  • Group Exercise (+ NCCPT Exam)

  • Group Personal Training

  • Indoor Cycling (+ NCCPT Exam)

  • Lifespan Coach

  • Weight Management Specialist

  • Youth Fitness Instructor

  • Senior Fitness Instructor

  • Running Coach

Continuing Education & Recertification

You will need to recertify with ISSA every two years to keep your status active. To renew:

  1. Complete 20 hours of CEUs
  2. Have a current CPR/AED certification
  3. Pay renewal fees

Renewing your ISSA personal training certification keeps you at the top of your game. Even though it takes extra time and money, continuing education can grow your expertise, business, and opportunities. Clients will also benefit from up-to-date information about fitness trends and new techniques.

Personal trainer seated in a gym with a laptop.

What You Can Do With an ISSA Personal Trainer Certification

Insurance Canopy recommends ISSA as the best certification program for personal trainers getting certified for the first time.

The ISSA-certified personal trainer program is designed to support you if you are new to the field. With unlimited access to a personal Success Coach, online materials, and detailed expansion packs, new trainers have the resources to start strong.

Why Certified Personal Trainers Need Insurance

Once you earn your shiny, new ISSA certification, it’s time to go to work. But one thing the program doesn’t provide is fitness instructor insurance.

Even qualified, careful trainers can’t avoid every snapped exercise band or strained muscle. Liability insurance protects you from paying for common claims like client injuries, damage to facilities, and broken equipment.

Personal trainer insurance is highly recommended and it’s often required by many locations where you might want to train clients. The ability to show this extra security net to gyms and other fitness centers can help you find training locales, land jobs, and expand your client base.

Luckily, Insurance Canopy offers top-rated and affordable personal trainer insurance designed to help you meet these requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions About ISSA Personal Training

Is ISSA a Good Certification?

ISSA courses have earned over 10,000 five-star reviews. This organization has almost 500,000 students and is one of the most popular choices for personal trainer certification.

How Much Does the ISSA Personal Trainer Certification Cost?

The ISSA Certified Personal Trainer program costs $994.30 per year. You can pay in full or choose a 12-month payment plan for $93.28/month.

How Long Does ISSA Certification Take?

The ISSA Certified Personal Trainer program takes 4–12 weeks to complete, depending on your choice of the Fast Track or self-guided program. You have six months after buying the program to complete the certification exam.

How Do I Become ISSA Certified?

To become ISSA certified, you must complete online courses and pass a 200 multiple-choice question exam. To maintain your status, recertify, renew your CPR/AED certification, and complete 20 CEUs every two years.

What Gyms Accept ISSA Certification?

Over 10,000 gyms accept the ISSA personal trainer certification. The organization’s preferred club partners list is a strong sample of major gyms that recognize this credential. The personal trainer exam is also NCAA accredited, which many gyms prefer.

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