WITS stands for World Instructor Training Schools and is one of the organizations that certifies personal trainers. They have been around since at least the 90s when I first heard about them. Lately, I've been asked a lot of questions about WITS—is it a good cert, do gyms accept WITS etc. —but since I've never obtained this certification, I thought the best way to tell you about it would be to interview people who have gone taken the WITS cert themselves. So, I interviewed 3 random people who have went through the WITS program at different locations and times. I've kept their names anonymous at their request and I've divided this interview into question and answer format to help you quickly get to the answers you want. If you are WITS certified, feel free to add your comments at the end, in case I missed anything. Here is where I list reviews on other fitness certs.
WITS Certification Questions
Where did you take the WITS certification?
Everybody said they took their certification classes at community colleges.
My experience is that WITS classes are often held at local community colleges. If you get circulars for colleges, the classes are usually located in the health and wellness and/or personal development sections.
How much did the WITS certification cost?
The cost of a WITS cert can vary depending on where it's offered.For example,one person said the program was $585 while another told me it was $475. Another person I interviewed paid $699. These differences are likely because of the deals that WITS has with different colleges.
How long did each class in the course last?
Classes usually meet every Saturday for 6 weeks. The classes usually ran 7 hours. The mornings are used for working form the book and the afternoons consisted of practical issues such as how to do fitness assessments and learning strength machines etc. I was told that every week a different topic was covered.
Was the teacher of the class a personal trainer?
Yes. All stated that their teacher had personal training experience.
Did the teacher explain the material in easy to understand language or did he/she repeat what the book said?
All 3 people responded that their instructors basically read from the book. Keep in mind that this does not mean that all WITS instructors do this. One person mentioned that the powerpoint presentation used by the teacher might be a “company issued PowerPoint.” I'd imagine that this might make some sense if the final exam etc. is standardized ―and I assume it is. Using a standardized approach ensures that everybody teaches the same thing.
What book did WITS use in their course?
The book was called the Fitness Professional’s Handbook by Howley and Franks.
Tip. This is a very good textbook used in many colleges. I own a copy myself. See the resource page of this site for many other good books I own and recommend.
How long does the WITS certification last?
What do you need to do to maintain the WITS certification?
People need to obtain 10 cec’s (continuing education credits) and pay a recertification fee of $50.
Did WITS use a series of tests during the course or only 1 big test at the end?
One person reported having quizzes that were mostly oral with some written.
What was a passing grade for the WITS test?
The final exam was 70% on the written test. People needed at least 70% on each of the 5 parts of the practical exam.
WITS Test Questions
Was there a comprehensive final exam for WITS?
Yes. There was a comprehensive written final. People needed at least 70% to pass the final exam.
Was the test essay, T/F, multiple choice etc?
How long did it take you to find out if you passed?
People indicated that they knew within 30 days.
Was the internship part the final grade?
Everybody indicated that the internship was not factored into the final grade.
Do you feel you needed to think during the final exam?
Yes. One person said that the test had several trick questions but could not recall what topics the questions were related to.
How many questions on the test?
Did the WITS final exam have a time limit?
It was 2 hours.
WITS Practical Questions
Where did the practical portion of the final exam occur?
The test was at the college gym.
What were the parts of the practical?
One person indicated that these were the 5 areas on the practical portion:
- 2 sections devoted to fitness assessments
- 1 Warm-up section
- Demonstrate stretches for 5 different muscles
- Upper body exercises: demonstrate exercises for 2 muscle groups
- Lower body exercises: demonstrate exercises for 1 muscle group
What was the WITS practical like?
Students were given a scenario. One of the fellow students acted as your client while the teacher observed and took notes. People then took turns being the trainer/client.
Note. Some people said the teacher for the practical (and final exam) was not the same as the person who taught the 6 week class.
Did you learn that day if you passed the practical?
No. The results of the test came within 30 days. People needed at least 70% in all sections to pass.
Did you learn what questions you missed on the final?
No.People did not learn what questions they missed.
This is normal when it comes to fitness certifications. Most organizations will not tell people which questions they missed on a test.
WITS Internship Questions
Was there an internship for WITS?
Yes. There is a 30 hour internship, People have to complete the internship within 1 year of taking the course. At least 3 of those hours need to be devoted to actually working with a client.
Did WITS help you obtain the internship?
Two people indicated that they received a list of gyms in the area that accepted WITS interns. There were also guidelines in the workbook to follow and forms for the gym to fill out. If a gym is not on the WITS internship list, people can request to have that gym added.
One person added that her instructor offered to help with getting the internship (kudos to that teacher!).
One person related the story that the gym she interned at (Anytime Fitness), had never worked with WITS before and felt that when it came to the part where the intern needed 3 hours to work with an actual client, that she was at a loss as to how to do it within the guidelines of the gym.
Note: To me, this sounds like a problem with that particular Anytime Fitness Franchise and not WITS. I believe the gym should have instructed the intern on how they do things.
WITS Personal Trainer Testing Tips
How did you prepare for the WITS final exam?
People said they studied assessments, warm ups, quizzes and chapters in the book where they felt they were weak.
Did the teacher offer any advice?
People indicated that the teacher may give ideas about what you might expect to see on the final exam. The teacher might not know however what the test consists of until the end of the program.
It's also possible that the person who issues the final exam is not the same person as the teacher of the classes. Two of the people I interviewed noted that final exam teachers were not the same as the person who taught the class. The same may also be true for the practical exam too.
What were the major areas of material on the WITS exam?
Exercise physiology, exercise prescription, anatomy, bio-mechanics and nutrition. One person described it as “hard core science.”
Note. This is VERY common for all personal trainer certification programs. All personal trainers must know science. My book Personal Fitness Training Beyond The Basics explains that science so you can understand it. Trust me…
Did you made any mistakes when preparing for the final exam?
One person stated a study partner would be a good idea. Another person said not studying enough was a mistake.
Did you need a calculator for the WITS exam?
Was the test taken on a computer?
The written test was taken on paper. Multiple choice and true and false.
List 3 things you learned from the WITS cert that you did not know before you took the class
One person mentioned calculating target heart rates and VO2max calculations. The other person mentioned things like related to muscle fibers and how they work, sources of energy, and oxygen uptake.
Did the WITS classes cover anything about marketing or interviewing for a job?
No. There is a section in the book about legal issues and laws.
Tip. Here's my book on personal trainer marketing
Did any gym tell you they did not accept WITS? If yes, what reasons did they give?
No person I interviewed told me they ran into gyms that did not accept WITS.
This is good news. I occasionally have heard that some gyms might not accept WITS certifications. My personal speculation is that this may be because big box gyms sometimes hire salesman (who don't know fitness) as managers.
Also, some people might accept the organizations that they hear mentioned over and over again. This name is usually “NASM.” See my review of the NASM TV commercial for more insights on them.
Was the WITS Cert Good?
All of the people I interviewed stated that overall, they were disappointed with the WITS personal training class they attended. Keep in mind that I only interviewed 3 people for this review so that may not reflect the feelings of others who have gone through the program.
Feel free to share your personal thoughts below so others can learn from you and your experiences.
Most of their frustration seemed to stem from the instructors who taught the course and to a lesser degree, the lack of guidance with the nature of the internship. I'm sure there are very good WITS instructors out there, so this review is not meant to be a defaming of the organization by any means. Personally, I like WITS and have been complimentary to WITS in the past and have always felt that going to school for several weeks was a advantage that WITS has over other personal trainer organizations such as NASM.
What do you think?