Becoming a Personal Trainer with ISSA


Becoming a Personal Trainer with ISSA

Reading Time: 6 minutes 33 seconds


Date: 2019-10-14T00:00:00-04:00

Have you ever looked at becoming a personal trainer? Have you ever wondered where to start? There are a lot of options on the market. Knowing where to begin is the first step to becoming a certified personal trainer.

Personal training is a growing industry. In fact, Bureau of Labor Statistics states there will be a 13% increase in personal trainers over the next 10 years. This growth is noted as being "faster than average". Right now is the best time to become a certified personal trainer!

What is an ISSA Training Certification?

There are a variety of fitness trainer programs available. Knowing what to look for in a certification is your first step to being successful. You need to start with knowing what questions to ask.

What Do I Want to Get Out of My Program?

There are many directions your career in personal training can go. One thing is for sure, you need to get a personal training certification first. After you are certified you can start to build your specialties and watch your client list grow!

Here are some popular options in the health and wellness profession.

Personal Training

A personal training certification is key to working in the fitness industry. With so many programs available, your certification program should cover the following:

  • Anatomy

  • Physiology

  • Nutrition

  • Program design

  • Exercise techniques

  • Adaptations to training

  • Safety and emergency procedures

As a personal trainer, you can work one-on-one with clients in the gym, at the client's home, at independent studios, and in corporate wellness facilities. Personal trainers may also find themselves working with small groups, training clients who have similar fitness goals.

Strength and Conditioning

Looking to work with athletes? A strength and conditioning certification course prepares you to meet the specific demands of working with athletes and athletic teams. Completing the course and certification exam shows potential clients you have what it takes to improve their strength, speed, agility, and coordination. Ultimately, making them better athletes.

Group Exercise

Group fitness is a specific area for the fitness trainer who works with large groups of individuals in a class-type format. The fitness trainer creates fun and effective classes that incorporate a variety of implements and music. Other formats of group exercise could include:

  • Step aerobics

  • Indoor cycling

  • Yoga

  • Fitness dance classes

  • Kickboxing

Youth Fitness

Youth fitness is a growing section of the fitness industry. Today's youth are more involved with sports than ever before. Holding a specialty in youth fitness shows parents you are skilled in shaping the minds and bodies of young athletes. This program begins with safe and effective exercise programming for youth.

Senior Fitness

Senior fitness is another area that is seeing extreme growth. It is estimated by 2030, the number of Americans over the age of 65 will grow to over 63 million. By 2050, the number is expected to grow to over 83 million. As our "baby boomers" are now into retirement and striving to live a healthy lifestyle, they are seeking personal trainers who have expertise in areas specific to their needs.

These clients have the time, money, and motivation to work with a personal trainer. Now is an excellent time to specialize in senior fitness. Holding a specialization in senior fitness, along with your primary personal training certification, shows your clients you have the knowledge to help them achieve their fitness goals while understanding their health issues and the limitations they may have due to those issues.


A nutrition certification can appear as many different titles in the market. In addition to the title of Nutrition Certification, watch for other titles like Nutritionist or Sports Nutrition Certification. Holding a specialty in nutrition, along with your personal trainer certification, equips you with the knowledge to help your clients meet their nutrition-related fitness goals. This could include weight loss (or weight gain in some cases) and helping clients understand how nutrients work in their body and what impact that has with exercise.

If you want to work with athletes, pairing a strength and conditioning certification with a sports nutrition program gives you the one-two punch! You'll be able to design training programs that improve an athlete's speed, strength, and power. At the same time, you'll understand how to fuel that athlete so they can perform at their peak every day.


Bodybuilding is another area a lot of fitness professionals focus on. This certification program includes education specific to the high demands of training for bodybuilding and physique competitions. This specialty has a focus on the specific program design that has been proven effective in this area. You will understand training variables, rest, recovery, motivation, and nutritional strategies specific for succeeding in bodybuilding.

Corrective Exercise

Corrective exercise is a growing specialty for fitness professionals who want to help their clients identify movement dysfunctions and use corrective exercises to reduce pain and discomfort. Corrective exercise is also used to prevent low back, shoulder, or knee pain.

Master Trainer

Once you're certified and have specialty certifications under your belt, you can look at becoming a master trainer. Not every organization has this elite level. When asking yourself questions about which certification to get, be sure to ask yourself how you can advance your career as a fitness trainer with the organization you choose.

As an example, the ISSA's Master Trainer program includes the personal trainer, nutritionist, and four other specializations of your choice. This allows you to demonstrate to your clients, employers, and peers that you are equipped with a comprehensive foundational knowledge of science and practice in personal training, nutrition, and fitness programming for special populations.

Which Personal Training Certification is the Best?

The answer to a question like this depends on what you are looking for. There are some organizations that focus on one topic or another. There are other organizations that have a little bit of something for everyone. Organizations like ISSA have certification courses to meet everyone's needs.

First, identify what is important to you and the types of clients you want to work with. Next, research fitness organizations and determine which one will fit your needs the best. You want to focus on organizations able to meet your growing needs as you advance your career as a fitness trainer. Look for who has a variety of certification courses and continuing education opportunities.

Is educational support important to you? Seek out an organization committed to your success. As you research options, you'll find some offer no support, and some offer unlimited support. ISSA is committed to your success and all students have unlimited access to educational support professionals.

If you are looking to take your career to the next level, look for an organization with a master trainer program. This program will set you apart from your peers.

Becoming a Personal Trainer with ISSA

Now, let's get down to what it takes to earn a certification by ISSA.

How Long is the Program?

There are a couple of options fitness professionals can use to get certified. Course material can be sent online or by hard copy (you get to pick). The program is set up as a self-paced program. That means you can get it done as fast as you want or have the time you need to fit it into your busy life. The program includes:

  • Study guide and workbook

  • Practice exam and section quizzes

  • Online exercise lab

  • Audio lectures and written lecture notes

  • Online student forum

  • Educational support

What Are the Requirements?

The requirements for becoming a personal trainer with ISSA are consistent with industry standards an include:

  • Being 18 years of age or high school diploma (or equivalent)

  • CPR AED certification

Some organizations may require a minimum of a bachelor's degree. ISSA has developed certification courses for fitness professionals covering all aspects of the education needed by fitness professionals to be successful on the personal trainer exam.

Steps to Becoming a Personal Trainer With ISSA

  • Research certification options

  • Enroll in a certification program

  • Complete the certification course

  • Use education support options

  • Complete the certification exam

Sounds to simple to be true? It's not! It really is that easy to get started in personal training.

Just Got Certified... Now What?

This is a question that is asked a lot. Once you're certified, it's time to find a job and do what you have been training to do! Remember, personal trainers work in a variety of locations, such as:

  • Gym

  • Spas and resorts

  • Cruise ships

  • Senior living facilities

  • Community centers

  • Corporate wellness centers

  • Clients' homes

  • Personal trainer studios

As you begin gaining valuable experience, it's time to start thinking about specialty certifications. You will have clients of all types seeking help with their health and wellness. Having those additional certifications will expand your clientele and your skill.

No matter what you do, you need to continue to gain knowledge and skill in a variety of health and wellness areas. This will keep you equipped with the necessary tools to support your client's fitness goals.

Ready to learn more? Start your journey to becoming a personal trainer with ISSA.

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