Ok, so your certified by AAAI/ISMA and your personal training certification is about to expire. How do you maintain your cert and get recertified by AAAI/ISMA? This is the question I want to address and along the way I also want to give you some tips to reduce the odds of you letting your certification expire by accident. By the way, this information is also true for people who hold ANY AAAI/ISMA certification also. After you're done reading this, see my posts on the AAAI Personal Trainer exam and AAAI/ISMA Master Personal Trainer exam
When Do I need To Recertify?
The very first time you become a certified fitness instructor with AAAI/ISMA, the certification is good for 2 years.
After that initial 2 years are up, you will have to get recertified each year.
Do NOT let it expire.
How do I re-certify for AAAI/ISMA?
If you are trying to get recertified by AAAI/ISMA, all you need is 8 CEUs (continuing education units).
CEUs are also called CECs –continuing education credits. Both mean the same thing.
The good thing about AAAI/ISMA is that ALL of their fitness and health programs count for 8 CEUs. So to recertified, the easiest way would be to just attend another AAAI/ISMA class and you are good for another year.
You do not have to take the same class again to get re-certified. For example suppose you were certified as a personal trainer. You don’t have to take the personal training class again to recertify as a personal trainer. You could take their sports nutrition certification class or their yoga certification class.
You could take ANY class offered by AAAI/ISMA. So, you could take sports nutrition, spinning, group fitness instructor, older adult fitness, yoga etc. ANY class that AAAI offers will allow you to painlessly re-certify.
Tip. No matter what class you take, remember that there is an additional $20 re-certification feel that needs to be paid in addition to the cost of the class. Failure to pay this $20 will hold up getting the new, updated certification. While this $20 paper work fee is usually collected if people register directly with AAAI/ISMA, those who take classes at colleges, likely have not paid it if they paid the college for the class. As a rule I suggest people recertiying call AAAI and pay the $20 to speed up the re-certification process.
Also, you do not have to take the tests of these other classes to get recertified either. For example, suppose you wanted to take the Yoga class to recertify in personal training. You just have to attend the Yoga class – you DO NOT have to take the Yoga test.
There is a full list of classes at the AAAI website (click to visit their site)
Another really easy way to recertify is to attend one of the AAAI conferences. By attending the conference, you are automatically recertified for another year. The conferences have dozens of classes going on at the same time so it’s a fun way to learn a lot in a short time too.
Each year AAAI/ISMA holds fitness conferences in Atlantic City NJ, Baltimore MD and Colorado Springs CO. They are all listed on their website. If you are on their mailing list you may even get emails about these.
Tip. Also see the AAAI/ISMA Personal Trainer Test for more info on how to prepare for that program.
AAAI/ISMA lets you take any program they offer because there is more to personal training than just the “personal training class”. AAAI/ISMA has over 25 different programs so taking a different class each year should not be a problem.
Can I take the same class to get recertified?
Sure you can. You can also take the same class, taught by someone else too. For example, suppose you were certified in personal training by me and you want to take the same fitness trainer class offered by:
That would be great because while the overall gist of the program will be similar, other instructors will cover topics that I did not cover. This will help you be a better rounded personal trainer.
In addition, remember you can take ANY class AAAI offers to recertify too. For example, suppose you want to take an older adult certification AAAI offers. You could take that – instead of personal training – and it would still re-certify your personal trainer cert.
How much does it cost to recertify?
Each AAAI class is $99. If you take the class at a college or attend a AAAI/ISMA conference, then the cost might be slightly more. When you recertify, there is also a fee of $20 to cover the new certification they will send you. When AAAI has your fees, they will send you a new cert in
about 4-6 weeks, if not sooner.
Remember to pay the $20 re-certification fee to AAAI/ISMA to get the new, updated certification.
How do I get my fitness certification number?
I know that some gyms like LA Fitness often ask people for the “certification number”. This is the number on your fitness cert that identifies you to AAAI. LA Fitness –and other gyms – will often ask for your fitness certification number so they can report it to their corporate offices and get you hired faster.
If you call AAAI, they may be able to give you the certification number over the phone – no promises though!
AAAI may also be able to fax you a cert if you need it faster –but they may charge you for this. When in doubt, it’s best to call AAAI and ask them about this. Their # is 609 397 2139.
Read the gym scams post for more insights on what you might run into.
What about other fitness organizations?
If you have taken classes or certs from other fitness organizations such as ACSM, AFAA, ACE NSCA ect. they can help, but AAAI gives them a maximum of 4 CEUs. AAAI mandates that at least 4 CEUs to come from a AAAI/ISMA approved course. In other words, AAAI values their classes as more important than other organizations. The same thing happens with most other organizations as well.
So the easiest way to stay in the AAAI family is to accumulate 8 AAAI CEUs per year. Each AAAI/ISMA class is 8 CEUs.
I do encourage people to attend seminars and workshops from other organizations if those topics are of interest to you. Recertifying or not, the education you get will help you in the real world.
How to stop the cert from expiring
If your personal trainer cert expires, you WILL have to take the personal trainer test again. Each AAAI certification has an expiration date. Go check what that date is!
To ensure your fitness cert does not expire, I suggest you choose a date that’s at least 6 months before the expiration date and put it a calendar program like MS Outlook or Google Calendar. That way when the date arrives you will get a reminder.
Don’t put your fitness cert in a drawer and forget about it. Trust me. I get a lot of emails from people who did this and the cert expired. Once your certification expires, you will have to take the test of that fitness cert again.
The gym asked me for my cert
NEVER give your certification to the fitness center you will be working at. Give them a copy of the certification. If the gym loses your certification, you will have to pay AAAI $30 for a new certification. Many people make this mistake. There is no reason why a gym would need the actual cert.
If the gym manager says they need the actual cert, trust me when I say, they don’t know what they are talking about. All they need to make sure the cert is legit is the certification number. Also, if they give you the excuse that they want to post your cert on a wall and want a good copy, you can make a very good color copy on most home printers. Staples etc. can also do it for you.
I know stressed fitness trainers get when they need to get recertified but it doesn't have to be this way. AAAI/ISMA makes it very easy for you. The trick is to not let your fitness certification expire. If you can do that, you will be ok.