Update 7/11/19. 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. Over the years, I've been asked a lot of questions about WITS such as is it a good cert, do gyms accept WITS, etc. To help you figure out if WITS is right for you, I decided to interview people who have gone taken the WITS program themselves. I interviewed 3 people who have gone through the WITS program at different locations. I've kept their names anonymous at their request and made this review a 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.
Other Fitness Cert Reviews
Other personal trainer certification reviews I've created include
- ACE Review
- ACE Cert Review (a different ACE review)
- NASM Review
- NASM TV commercial Review
- NASM CES Review
- NASM vs NSCA Review
- CSCS Review (what I did to pass)
- AAAI Personal Trainer Review
- AAAI Master Personal Trainer Review
- Online Personal Trainer Certification Review
See those reviews for much more information.
WITS Certification Questions
Where did you take the WITS certification?
Everybody said they took their certification classes at community colleges. My personal experience is WITS certification 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 WITS 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 the WITS course last?
Classes usually meet every Saturday for 6 weeks. The classes usually ran for 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 class instructor a personal trainer?
Yes. All stated that their teacher had personal training experience. This is good. It means the instructor has real experience with personal training and did not just learn the information from reading a book.
Did the teacher explain the material or just 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. On the downside, it may mean the teacher is limited in what she/he teaches in class.
What textbook was used WITS 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 for many other good books I own and recommend.
How long does the WITS certification last?
2 years. That is pretty much standard for many different fitness certifications.
How do you maintain the WITS certification?
People need to obtain 10 cec’s (continuing education credits) and pay a recertification fee of $50.
Did the course use a series of tests or only 1 big test at the end?
One person reported having quizzes that were mostly oral with some writing involved.
What's the 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.
What was the format of the test: essay, T/F, multiple-choice, etc?
All said the test was multiple choice.
How long did it take to find out if you passed?
Everyone indicated they knew within 30 days if they passed or failed.
Was the internship part of the final grade?
Everybody told me the internship was not factored into the final grade.
Was the WITS test hard or easy?
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 WITS final exam?
Did the final exam have a time limit?
Yes. people had 2 hours to complete the final exam.
WITS Practical Questions
Where did the practical portion of the final exam occur?
The practical part of the final exam was at the college gym.
What were the parts of the practical?
One person indicated 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.
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 practical 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. Nobody told me they learned what questions they missed. To be fair, 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 told me her instructor offered to help with getting the internship (kudos to that teacher!).
Another person told me the story that the gym she interned at (Anytime Fitness), had never worked with WITS before and felt 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 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 test 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 the 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.
The major areas covered on the WITS exam
One person described it as “hardcore science.”
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 the science so you can understand it. Trust me…
Do you wish you did anything different with prepping for the final?
One person stated a study partner would be a good idea. Another person said not studying enough was a mistake. For the record, I studied over 3 months before I took the CSCS exam – and that's with a BS in chemistry and biology.
Did you need a calculator for the WITS final exam?
No. Calculators were not needed.
Was the test taken on a computer?
No. The written test was taken on paper. It was multiple choice and true and false.
List 3 things you learned from the WITS that you did not know before
One person mentioned calculating target heart rates and VO2max. Another person mentioned things related to muscle fibers and how they work, sources of energy, and oxygen uptake.
Did WITS cover anything about marketing?
No. There is a section in the book about legal issues and laws. Here's my marketing book. You will need to know how to get clients no matter who you are certified by.
Did any gym tell you they did not accept WITS?
No person I interviewed told me they ran into gyms that did not accept WITS.
This is good news. I occasionally have heard stories where some fitness might not accept WITS certifications. My personal speculation is this maybe because big box gyms sometimes hire salesmen (who don't know fitness) as managers.
Also, some managers might accept the organizations 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 so this 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, 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 them in the past. I have always felt going to school for several weeks was an advantage that WITS has over other personal trainer organizations such as NASM.
Did you go through a WITS program? Was it beneficial?
Gilda one says
So, Now what’s is a difference between Level 1 and Level 2?
If someone has a Level 2 can work as a Personal Trainer or not?
Collage gives you level 1 or 2?
Hi Gilda, I looked into this for you. From what I could gather on the WITS website, the level 2 WITS cert has an 30 hour internship. I did not see an internship mentioned for the level 1 personal trainer cert. Here are the pages from the WITS website for the Level 1 and Level 2 courses
WITS Level 1 certification Summary
WITS Level 2 certification summary
From what I can tell, passing the level 1 cert provides the basic information fitness trainers need to know. The Level 2 course pertains the the internship.
It appears to me level 1 should be enough to work as a personal trainer at most gyms (some gyms may requrie level 2. Ask to make sure).
When I compiled this review I was under the impression, courses conducted at colleges included an internship. Im not sure if this has changed.
If Any WITS instrors / students are reading this, your imput is appreciated.
Joe – to my knowledge that information is correct. Level 2 is after the new graduate has completed the internship, which is already part of the WITS PT certification. When I completed mine in 2009, it was only a 20 hour internship with 10 CECs required for renewal every 2 years; now it is up to 30 hours with 20 CECs for renewal.
I am grandfathered into the 10 CECs; however, I do not have the certification that is nationally recognized by NCAA. For that, I would need to pass a new written and practical exam and pay almost as much as it would to obtain an ACE certification.
I would think if a new student is pursuing the PT certification, he or she would want the internship for the same cost.
In response to the question about the difference between the hybrid and regular course, it is explained on the website. The hybrid appears to be partially online with the onsite required for the practical skills.
Judy, thanks for that clarification! So, students can only go through the level 2 program after completing Level 1 AND going through a 30 internship, yes?
Jay DelVecchio says
To help with the inquiry you are basically correct all around. The Certified Personal Trainer Level 1 means you are not only able to work as a nationally CPT but you are realistically twice the certified trainer than the other groups due to the fact that we are the only national certification that is NCCA Accredited to test in not just the written knowledge but also the practical skill competencies.
Employers love that you can actually work with your hands and brains to design and execute safe programs for your clients. Our industry has an 80% turnover from year to year and I think it is all about the preparation and testing to do the job. Our grads perform!
CPT Level 2 is a bonus where you do complete a very detailed 30 hour internship at an employer who volunteers to accept our certified grads. You are put with a senior trainer to work with you and actual clients. As a CPT Level 1 we give you a list of 10-20 employers to set up your work internship experience. If you need help W.I.T.S. will be there. This ends up walking many of our grads into jobs!!
Jay, thanks again so much for your detailed explanation on the difference between Level 1 and Level 2.
Question, when you said there is an 80% turnover from year to year did you mean 80% of fitness trainers leave the industry after 1 year? Or turnover in gym staff? I had not heard that statistic before? Do you have a reference for it (IDEA etc)? Is this stat unique to personal trainers or the entire fitness industry (group trainers, etc)? Just curious.
Jay DelVecchio says
Yes, you must complete the CPT Level 1 before you can take the bonus Level 2
Jay, thanks so much for helping out with this! 🙂
Right now, yes. For me, it was 20 hours. They would need to pass the written and practical exams.
Thanks so much Judy! 🙂
I’m confused. Whats the difference between the hybrid personal trainer course and the regular personal trainer course. Also, are both courses both NCCA accredited?
Steven, good question. It looks like the hybrid cert combines online training with some in-person work.
As to your question about whether both are accredited by NCCA, I think so but I’m not sure. I went to the WITTS site and saw NCCA listed next to the hybrid trainer and “regular” trainer certs. That made me think they both are NCCA accredited. Can anyone shed light on this?
The personal training certs offered now by W.I.T.S. are nationally certified. For those who received their certifications before a certain date, they are not but still allowed to remain current. I just renewed under the old guidelines.
Thanks Judy. For what it’s worth, I dont blame you for not spending the extra for the NCCA version.
Jay DelVecchio says
W.I.T.S. is not just NCCA Accredited like the others in the written exam but W.I.T.S. built out the infrastructure and received NCCA Accreditation for practical skill competencies exams too, Personal training is a hands on business where you must relate and qualify results to build long term success. W.I.T.S. is the only certification in the fitness industry that qualified with both exams as NCCA accredited. We all have book smart friends that cannot perform. W.I.T.S. insists, like any other health occupation, that you pass both to get legitimately nationally certified.
Hey Jay, nice to hear from you. Thanks for chiming in!
Congrats, Amy!!! WITS was a very good course, and now with NCCA accreditation you should be able to find a job anywhere with your CPT. In fact, when you interview for jobs you might point out that unlike other NCCA-accredited CPT certifications, only WITS provides classroom instruction and practical, hands-on instruction in a gym; both written AND practical exams; and a 30-hour internship (if you completed one). That should help make you an ideal candidate.
As an aside, I spoke with a woman today whose trainer has both a college degree and a cert that’s NCCA accredited. Shes has had knee surgery in the past. Trainer is aware of this yet had her doing lower body plyometrics and pushing a sled with 350 pounds, whcih she could not push very far. I would not chance either of these exercises in someone whose had knee surgery. When I asked why she was pushing a sled with so much weight, she said because the trainer was curious if she could do it. That’s not a good reason to prescribe an exercise.
Certified does not mean qualified and accredited does not mean the cert is better.
All of the Fitness & Wellness Centers (there are 9 in New Jersey and 1 in Southeastern PA) require an NCCA-accredited personal trainer certification. These centers go beyond being just a “gym” — they are medically oriented and each is in joint venture with a hospital or hospital system (for example, the RWJ Fitness & Wellness Centers are in joint venture with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and the Princeton Fitness & Wellness Center at Plainsboro is in joint venture with The University Medical Center at Princeton).
This is why I went with ACSM certification, as it has the greatest emphasis on clinical populations of the various trainer certifications out there, and that was the population I most wanted to work with.
In my experience, the biggest difference between the old, unaccredited WITS exam (as Shaun pointed out) and the ACSM exam is that the WITS exam was basically an exercise in memorization while most of the ACSM exam questions involved applied knowledge.
All the memorization in the world won’t help you much on the ACSM exam if you don’t know how to apply the concepts and do basic mathematic calculations. That’s why I personally don’t think it would be fair to “grandfather in” people who passed the old WITS test — it sounds like the new test is much different and more difficult to pass.
BTW, I don’t recall a question about skin fold calipers for body fat (as you mentioned) on the ACSM exam — but I do remember learning how to use them in a classroom sessions for WITS. They are still used by the nursing staff at medically oriented gyms to help assess body fat percentage in people who seek such an evaluation.
I would agree if you are working with medically challenged populations in a hospital setting then ACSM would be the direction to take. That math you learned will help. In the general population/gym setting there is less math.
Correct also that there is more to being a trainer than memorization. One has to be able to apply the knowledge to real life situations
Thanks for the info on the skin calipers and ACSM. So glad its being de-emphasized. It does have its place but fitness centers shy away from it, probably because of potential liability issues.
That’s good to know. I was thinking about applying at MLH Concordville location since I’m already a Riddle employee, but their fitness center is run by F&W
Judy, give it a try and see what happens. Let us know how it goes 🙂
Three years ago I did my WITS internship at one of the Fitness & Wellness Centers in NJ so I already had a foot in the door when I applied for a personal trainer job there. They did hire me — but with the understanding that to stay employed, I had to get an NCCA-accredited personal trainer certification within 6 months of hire.
In fact, it was the same for all personal trainers with WITS certification who were already working there when F&W first began requiring NCCA accreditation — all of them were “grandfathered in” for 6 months to give them time to obtain a new, NCCA-accredited certification. (Two that I knew went with ACE.)
My F&W gym was a great place to work, with a terrific personal training manager and staff, and I enjoyed working there. In my experience, F&W is a very professional organization and they do a good job of running their gyms. They provide extensive employee training and support — can’t say enough good things about them.
Concordville is definitely worth looking into if you’re willing to get an NCCA-accredited personal training certification. The dozen or so certifications that F&W accepts are listed in their job postings on Indeed.com. Good luck!
I looked at personal trainer postings from the Haverford Area YMCA and JCC Works. Both used similar wording in their requirements:
National Personal Training Certification (NSCA, ACSM, ACE, NEITA, AAAI).
Certified by NSCA, ACSM, NASM, ACE, NSPA or other National Recognized Certification; Candidates must be service oriented, reliable, energetic, experienced and passionate about fitness and helping others
Is my WITS CPT nationally certified? That was my understanding in 2009 before the NCAA certification. Now I’m not so sure.
I became interested in the Strong Women Strength Training Program offered through the Penn State Extension and observed/participated in a class. I am impressed with the program, which is evidence based and developed by Tufts University.
Unfortunately, the PSU Cooperative Extension is not able to continue the same program leader/instructor training but is looking at a similar program. Once training is available, I intend to register, but they’ve been in this transition mode for over a year.
Judy, reach out to the gyms in Havertown and apply. I see no reason why they would not accept WITS. Bring your resume with you and emphasise the rigor and internship needed for WITS and how long you have been in the business. Here’s my review of how to do a fitness resume
Remember to lead with your strengths: emphasis how you can help them serve their members best.
Here’s my review of the Fitness Interview too
You are already going above and beyond what many other trainers do – continuing to improve your education. Your also passionate about helping others. Thats exactly who they are looking for.
Thanks, Joe. Regarding NCCA input on questions. I am not 100% sure, but as part of a team responsible for rewriting the test, we did have to create an exam that included questions from various content areas. We also had to be sure that the questions included a range and proportion of questions that ranged from straightforward memorization to levels of more complex problem solving. I think that was just one part of meeting the standards.
It was pretty involved…even for those of us experts (minimum of Masters and many with PhDs) writing the questions. The answers were also difficult to write as you could not state answers in the negative and or include answers that were confusing and obviously incorrect. No true/false, all of the above or none of the above either.
It really was about creating good questions that tested understanding of the material as opposed to good guessing or regurgitation. In that sense, I think it does increase the quality of applicants getting the certification.
As far as “grandfathering in” my thinking is that students wanting to claim they are certified through a NCCA accredited program would have to retake the exam. The truth is that some may fail the exam and thus not meet the criteria set by NCCA.
As an aside, I was actually on the advisory board of a massage therapy school that opened up in Delaware. It was a grueling, time intensive process that took several years and is ongoing to keep their accreditation. Again, it often times felt like jumping through hoops, but without such a process, it is hard to know how the various programs compare, or if they curriculum encouraged a basic level of competency.
I think the accreditation process has its place.
I do agree with you about not worrying so much about who you were certified by if you are currently in the industry. Your time might be better spent by pursing additional education/continuing education on working with specialty groups as a way to stand out from your peers.
I would also mention that personal training is one of the most loosely regulated professions out there from organizations that offer the certifications to what the states require in order to call yourself a personal trainer.
As the profession continues to grow, it is bound to get more regulated, especially when you now have BS programs that are offering it as a undergraduate degree.
Shaun, thanks for that inside look into the process you all took to do the NCAA accreditation. I do see how making a harder exam would reduce the odds of knuckleheads getting into the field. That can always be a win for everybody.
Since WITS is now NCCA accredited, but my WITS CPT (taken before they earned their accreditation) is not, I can retest to earn their NCCA accredited CPT. The cost is $350.00.
However, they require a new practical and written exam. If I do this, I don’t know if my card will say anything different. Another consideration is that I don’t believe WITS has the same name recognition as ACE, ASCM, etc. When I tell other fitness professionals that I am a personal trainer, immediately they assume ACE or ASCM.
They don’t seem to be familiar with WITS.
I see the same thing on job applications or some CEC recerts when the certifying agency is displayed. Just wondering if anyone else has run into this.
I’m still not sure where I’m going with any of this. It will probably depend upon my employment situation in the coming months.
Judy, so WITTS did not grandfather you in when they obtained NCCA accreditation? That’s just not right. To be honest, I think NCCA accreditation is bogus. I never believed NCCA accreditation added anything to the quality of the certification. As I understand it, it really only deals with making sure people dont cheat during the exam. It does not deal with the quality of education.
For example, you know me and how I like to talk about rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdo education is HUGE yet nobody teaches it. Why doesn’t NCCA mandate certification organizations include rhabdo education as part of their curriculum?
Personally, I like WITTS. They don’t put as much into marketing as as NASM etc but that doesn’t mean they are not as good. you had a practical portion as part of your cert – and an internship too. ACE, NASM, NSCA etc. do not. In my book that says WITTS is better even without NCCA.
There is a push these days for organizations to bend to the will of thinking NCCA certs are better. Basically the org pays a lot of money to NCCA -and ongoing too – for the privilege of having the accreditation.
As for the other trainers, who cares what they think. Most fitness trainers only know the name of the org they are certified by. Pay them no mind. As for gyms, most are run by non-fitness people. They also dont know one cert from another. I’m NSCA certified. I rarely mention it to anybody.
Play to your strengths. Instead of telling people who you are certified by, tell them how long you have been in business. Tell them you are qualified, not just certified. We’ve probably had this conversation before, but I’d bypass the gym and go in business for yourself. Your clients will never ask you who you are certified by.
Check out my whats the best personal trainer cert for more on this
Getting back to WITTS. I would NOT give them $350 so that you can be inconvenienced further to prove you know what you are doing. I like WITTS but shame on them for not going to bat for their students on this.
Look at YMCAs and JCCs. I know many hire WITTS instructors.
NCCA accreditation is intended to ensure that certified personal trainer courses meet certain minimum educational standards. Gyms that require it may believe it helps protect them from liability because it demonstrates that they have gone out of their way to ensure that their staff members have received appropriate training/certification as judged by an objective certifying body.
That’s why I think so many gyms now require NCCA accreditation — to strengthen their position in potential liability suits. In fact, their Legal Departments may be the ones requiring it. Just a thought.
Jackie, that’s a great point that it may be a legal issue. If what you say is true, then this kind of feeds into my theory that people are just buying into the thought NCCA accreditation =better cert without any proof. I do want to look deeper into this issue because it comes up a lot.
Joe, I am an instructor with WITS. I was also part of a team of professionals who worked with WITS to help ensure they were NCCA compliant. There is a lot that went into the process.
Their entire exam was revised to ensure that it was testing competency rather than testing “testing” skill. A lot of time and money went into the process, as well as collaboration between professionals who work with WITS.
I don’t think they can “Grandfather in” students as the program had to undergo some changes in order to fully comply.
The basic format of the class did not change. That said their testing did. Many of the questions previously used had to be tossed. I think the exam is a much better indicator of true competency, and it’s very possible that students who passed the original exam would not pass the new version.
Personally, I feel as far as certifications go, WITS is far superior particularly for those people who benefit from classroom time. I’ve taught many students who work out regularly and who think of themselves as being comfortable in a gym who completely fall apart on the practical portion.
Knowing exercises is one thing. Being able to actually put your knowledge into practice with someone who looks very different than you and may have very different goals is much harder. No other certification has a practical component.
WITS also now offers two levels of certification. Level I is passing course and practical. Level II is passing course, practical, and completing a 30 hour internship.
I can tell you, simply studying and taking, and passing an exam does not prepare you for the profession. As a physical therapist, I’ve treated a number of people hurt by their trainers ignorance.
Hi Shaun, thanks for reaching out. I’ve heard good things about you over the years (I really have). I appreciate you enlightening me on the changes which have been going on at WITS.
Question: did the NCAA have any impute on the changing of questions or types of questions that are now used on the WITS exam? Just curious.
As I said I do want to dig deeper into the NCCA accreditation process. I have heard it is expensive.
Like you, I have also encountered those who think they can be a trainer because they like to workout. I’ve seen my share of those who crash and burn when they realize there is more to this business than “lift this weight 10 times.”
Ive always felt WITS was a superior program because of the classroom instruction – and the internship. One of my grips with NCCA is they accredit programs that are less stringent than you guys are.
I know I’m in the minority on this but given the lack of proof NCCA certs produce better trainers, I see the “certifying of the certifiers” just added red tape and expense.
I’m still disappointing former graduates are not grandfathered in. That may be more of a reflection of NCCA rules rather than WITS.
Feel free to share your wisdom anytime here Shaun. You are always welcome 🙂
I got WITS certification in 2015 and ACSM later that year because my gym required NCCA accreditation. I liked the WITS course because of its classroom instruction and both written and practical exams. However, when I obtained my ACSM certification, the course was so much more in-depth and the exam so much harder that it literally made WITS look like a kindergarten class. The ACSM national pass rate was just 53% the year I took it, which is typical for them.
The fact that you need to know so much more to pass an NCCA-accredited exam may explain why WITS doesn’t “grandfather in” people like Judy who obtained the original certification.
In my view it wouldn’t be fair to put earlier WITS recipients on the same level as those who’ve had to pass the more stringent accredited course and exam.
That being said, I don’t think it’s fair for WITS to charge $350 to take the new exam. For those who were certified before WITS was accredited, at most they should pay a nominal fee — or preferably none at all — to retest under the new standard.
Jackie, I also balked when I saw it was $350. I’m never a fan of going into debt to be a trainer, given the low pay in some gyms. Ive known others who went through the ACSM exam. They echo your words that its difficult. I do feel they address things (like skin fold calipers for body fat) which in today’s world may not be as practical as in the past. But thats a convo for another day.
Just curious, can you tell the name of the gym which required the NCCA cert?
Joe, I was grandfathered as far as being allowed to renew with 10 CECs for the same certification I earned initially, but if I want the NCAA cert I have to retest for the practical as well as the written.
One of my concerns is that my previous classroom experience may not prepare me for the change in the practical testing. As far as a written test, I was told they provide study guides once someone registers.
So, as I mentioned, if I find that I need a NCAA recognized cert, I am more inclined to go with a more recognized organization, like ACE, for a little more.
Judy, thanks for the clarification. Lets hope the NCCA thing doesn’t become an issue.
Hi Joe, thank you for this objective review. It’s hard to find reviews like this – with no secrete motive – on the web these days. I wanted to become a personal trainer for a while now and have heard of WITS. I want to thank you and everybody who who commented here. You have given me much to think about.
Hi Diane, thanks for saying that. If you have any further questions about WITS or other fitness certs, let me know and I’ll try to help.
Have you heard of equinox gym? That’s the gym I want to work at
Hi Jennifer, Yes I have heard of equinox gym. Are you WITS certified? If you have any questions on getting hired by a gym just ask 🙂
A quick word of caution for you — if you think that WITS exam was hard, you’re not going to find ACSM any easier. I think some of the issues you had with WITS were due to the organization changing its course and exam to comply with NCCA accreditation standards. I hold both certifications (I first got WITS certification but my gym required NCCA accreditation, which WITS didn’t offer at the time, so I needed another training certification).
Since my gym was affiliated with a medical center and has many members with chronic health conditions, I decided to go with ACSM because it has the strongest emphasis on clinical populations. It helped that I was already an emergency medical technician with a strong background in anatomy & physiology, plus I had already passed the WITS exam with a score of 96.
Even so, the ACSM exam was super difficult. Thankfully I passed it on the first go, but only 53% of those who took it the year I did passed it — and that includes people taking it for the 2nd and 3rd time. ACSM always has the lowest pass rate of the various trainer certifications out there, which pretty much translates to the hardest exam.
In deciding which certification to pursue next, you might want to consider the gym you’ll be working at or the populations you want to work with. If you’re going to be working with clinical populations then ACSM is definitely the way to go. If you prefer to work with younger, healthier people and/or athletes, I’m told that NASM, NSCA, or ISSA is best.
ACE has a reputation as an all-around good certification based on cost and exam pass rates. All of these certifications are well known and accepted by gyms/fitness centers. You may also want to consider the recertification period and number of CECs required to keep your certification active. At 45 CECs every 3 years, ACSM is the highest, while pretty much all the others require 20 CECs every 2 years.
In short, there are a number of great trainer certifications out there, so ask around and do your research to help determine which is the right one for you. Good luck!
Joe Cannon says
Jackie and Judy, thanks for saying what you did. I know it will benefit Sara.
I can relate to some of Sara’s concerns. I took the CPT course several years ago, when the internship was only 20 hours, and did not feel it was enough hands on time; also the practicum site was reluctant to allow an intern to do much. If I had to do it over, I would go for the degree but in my case, I didn’t go into this with the intention on complete career change.
I would advise anyone considering WITS or similar cert to supplement it with college courses toward a degree if that person wants a full-time career in the fitness industry. Otherwise, the individual may be looking at working in a chain gym earning only slightly more than minimum wage or pushed into position involving sales commission.
One thing I’m not happy with is the cost of their renewal fees in addition to the cost paid for the CEUs.
Sara B. says
I seriously can’t tell if some of these comments are from people who are fake or people who actually took the course…
I completed a WITS course that began Sept 2017. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS PROGRAM! I have personal experience with training and I’ve worked with many trainers in various settings. I’ve shadowed as well.
The lecture was okay… I wanted to quit half way through but I felt it was too late. It wouldn’t matter because Jay Del Vecchio (the president of the program) doesn’t give a crap. He just wants your $$. I spoke to him myself. He was extremely defensive and rude. He claims that many know about this program and it’s accredited and can be compared to college courses. BS! I have a college degree and certifications in other areas. This is nothing like a college course. I’ve taken much shorter summer college courses that were much more informative.
The lecture workbook was not completely in line with the slides that the lecturer had. They had to look at our workbooks to see what was missing from either our book or their slides. It was not very professional. We were told to not even worry about the text book and to pay more attention to the lecture workbook… I still read the required chapters.
They also told us to mainly study the quizzes at the end of each lecture. We were told the format of the quizzes would be the same as the exam. That was a complete lie! If you don’t have any previous experience in courses like anatomy and bio-mechanics then you’re going to struggle. They don’t cover anything to where it’s easy to understand and sink in. They skim through those subject areas and expect you to learn it.
Some of great lectures and practical info in the workbook had “homework”. Yeah we didn’t even touch that. I wish we did because it would have helped. There were many points in the lecture where the instructor told us not to worry about certain things because it wouldn’t be in the exam. That was also a lie.
I and some others that have training experience were very very disappointed in the extreme lack of information on programming. There was zero lecture covering it. They mention to train major muscle groups and such but zero examples on how to program for clients. There’s a lot of info that was in the exam that was not in the lecture. Not all chapters were required to be read either which I thought was strange.
Passing grade for the exam is 68%. Everyone but one person in our course failed. As in failed horribly. It was very disappointing. After that you’re required to PAY for the retest. Some other and much better certifications like NASM and ACSM allow at least one free retest and the rest either discounted or a fee. They are also more well known than WITS.
I spoke to some managers at a few gyms that WITS has listed and they say they never heard of them. Golds Gym is listed as one of the gyms jay takes that cert. Not a single golds gym in my area knew what WITS was. They had to google it. I showed my workbook and my experience with the course with the lead trainer I am interning with. He was very disappointed in the lack of information and direction the course was lead. I have learned much more from interning on my own than in the course.
After you take the exam, WITS will email you and tell you that they will not release your scores until you evaluate the course. People in my class decided to be nice in the evaluation for the person that was lecturing. The evaluation needs to be in more depth and much longer. I regret leaving a nice evaluation. I should have been 100 percent honest and told him what I really thought about the course and the areas I need to hear prove on.
Almost everybody in my class did not feel prepared to work with clients as soon as we were done. Everyone left the exam confused about what had happened.
WITS had a 30 hr intern form you turn in and it bumps you to level 2 trainer. Yeah that means absolutely NOTHING at any gym. That’s only a WITS thing. Also, 30 hours is not enough. Some courses require 100 or more hours. Its only that; it’s easy for people to just have their certified trainer friends sign off on the form and turn it in without actually interning.
Nothing is monitored which is very stupid of them. I intern because I have an awesome and EXTREMELY knowledgeable trainer I’m working with and learning so much from. I’m not done with interning and I’ve already surpassed the minimum 30 hrs required.
This course was a waste of $$ and time. I only continued to have the cert paper. I’m going to take the ACSM exam in a few months.
Joe Cannon says
Hi Sara, so sorry you had a bad experience with WITS. I really do appreciate you sharing all that you did. I know Jay and have always found him to be a good guy. I did not know that students had to evaluate the course before getting their grades.
As for most gyms managers not knowing about WITS, Ive heard this before. I can only assume it’s because most gym managers are not fitness people but sales people. They only hear about the squeaky wheels like NASM ACSM et.c that clamor for attention. Some trainers may only be familiar with who they are certified by. Thats my theory take it for what it is. Even so, I’m saddened by your experiences.
Can you tell me the location of where you took your WITS class? I’ve been told WITS monitors these comments. Maybe your words can help them improve going forward.
Good luck with ACSM. Here is an ACSM review that may help you.
I am studying to take my WITS personal training test next week. I found out today from another student that WITS considers this course for students that have some kind of exercise physiology background and anatomy knowledge. I have been having a hard time with some of the book.
The terms and language they use is definitely advanced and not in layman’s terms. I wish I had known that before, however i feel a little sense of relief that some prior knowledge was expected! I do not see the study test for $6 like mentioned way above. I know this is an old thread but is it still available ?
Joe Cannon says
Hi Christin, Yes, this thread is still available. I just went to the WITS website. I dont see practice test at all on their site. If it helps you I did locate a flash card Q/A on another website: http://www.flashcardmachine.com/wits-personaltrainercertification.html
I dont know if they are associated with WITS or not but I glanced over the questions and answers and they looked correct to me.
I wish you had reached out before now. I know you would have benefited greatly from my personal trainer book. Unlike others, I dont use big words and when I do I make sure you know what I’m saying. Here’s Personal Fitness Training Beyond The Basics
Let me know how your exam goes next week and do share what you think of their test so you can help others prepping for WITS.
Jackie Boyle says
I took the WITS personal trainer course in 2015, and our instructor provided all enrolled students with a WITS website link to the practice exams. The practice exams were definitely helpful to get an idea of what kinds of questions would be asked on the exam, but they did NOT give the actual exam questions.
We were also given a course outline on the first day of class that the instructor taught from. Pretty much everything that was on the exam was covered in the outline (more or less a study guide), and that’s mainly what I studied from. You still need to read the assigned book chapters, but if you received a course outline and link to the practice exams, by all means use them!
If your instructor didn’t provide a link to the practice exams, ask about it.
BTW, I had to obtain another personal trainer cert after WITS because my gym requires an NCCA-accredited certification, which WITS did not have at the time, so I went on to get ASCM (having already taken WITS definitely gave me an edge). The good new is, WITS is currently in the process of obtaining NCCA accreditation, which would open up more job opportunities for you since more and more gyms are requiring this now.
Good luck with your exam!
Joe Cannon says
Jackie, thanks for helping Christin with her questions and I also thank you for bringing WITS and NCAA accreditation. NCAA and other accrediting agencies has been pretty effective in making gyms believe accreditation is needed.
I took the WITS certified personal trainer course at my local community college last year and thought it was a great class. The instructor was engaging and very knowledgeable. I liked the fact that the instruction format took place in both the classroom and the school’s gym, and I also appreciated having to pass written and practical exams. I had no trouble lining up an internship — the gym where I have a membership let me do my internship there and even offered me a job — BUT I had to be willing to obtain an NCCA-accredited personal trainer certification within 6 months of hire, which is a standard that MANY gyms now require, and one that WITS doesn’t yet have.
I chose American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), one of the more difficult certs to get and the one reputed to have the strongest clinical emphasis since my gym is affiliated with a hospital system. Their exam pass rate was only 54% last year (2015), so nearly half of all people taking the exam failed it.
ACSM’s course and exam was so hard it made WITS look like a kindergarten class, but thankfully I passed it on the first go. The fact that I had taken WITS first was a blessing because it provided great background for the more in-depth ACSM course. I’m really proud to have achieved ACSM certification because it’s highly respected in the field and gave me instant “street cred”. I have since heard that WITS is revamping its course and exam and applying for NCCA accreditation, which I think is a great idea. Hopefully they will get it soon.
My advice to those seeking to get into the field is to check the employment requirements of the gym(s) you’re targeting to see if they require NCCA accreditation before you decide on which certification to go with. You can also research people’s comments online — including forums such as this one — about various certification courses and their exams. Some organizations (like ACSM) provide annual exam pass-rate statistics, which can be helpful in choosing a course.
Joe Cannon says
Hi Jackie, thanks for sharing all that. Yes the NCAA is one of the companies that basically “certifies” the certification organizations. Others also exist. I think this is the industries attempt at policing itself rather than one day having government oversight. Given your gym is associated with a hospital, I think going with ACSM was a good choice. Congrats on passing!
I took Wits personal trainer program at my local community college. I liked the instructor, he used to book and actual real life situations he had. The only problem I have with the class is the interneship, they give you no help in finding one.
Joe Cannon says
Hi Bill, thanks for sharing. How did you eventually find an internship?
Brian Weaver says
Brian Weaver says
First off…I think you “nailed it” Joe. I retired from the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 2012 and wanted to do something I love so I became a CPT. I chose W.I.T.S. for two reasons. (1) They have actual class time, unlike so many other “more respected” certs. (2) They have a “practical exam” which MOST others do not.
The written test is NOT open book and you can’t take it at home. We only had 6 people in my class and only one person besides me passed both tests. If that were strictly an “online” course, the other 4 would be CPT’s. So I feel it DOES eliminate some folks because your knowledge doesn’t do you or you client much good if you can’t convey it.
I currently work for a hospital owned gym and run a boot camp class twice a week. and I explained my view of their concerns about W.I.T.S. and they hired me. The only real draw back I saw with the W.I.T.S. course was that if you don’t already have a good bit of experience in the gym and actually doing “hands on” workouts, the course will probably not have enough “practical” training.
Joe Cannon says
Brian, thanks so much for the feedback! I’m so glad you are getting to do something you enjoy. I’ve met many who worked in the prison system who are personal trainers or became one after they retried so you are in good company.
I was one of 4 people that passed the written exam. I’m a nursing student so that gave me an advantage. As far as reputation, as a nursing students Who has to demonstrate his skills and clinical application to progress each semester, I found it odd that a personal trainer exam wouldn’t require the same. This is why I was not impressed with NASM Or ACE Or any of the other alphabet soup certifications.
From my understanding There are about 4 certifications (basic pt certifications) in the country that require you to demonstrate your coaching ability.
Joe Cannon says
Hi Jo, thanks for sharing. Much success in your nursing career too!
Tom P says
I also have the WITS cert and I think it’s pretty good. However it’s not NCCA approved.
Do you think the cert would get more attention if it were? Most hospital based gyms won’t
accept it because of that reason. Just a thought.
Joe Cannon says
Tom P, I dont know if it would help WITS or not. I think WITS could get more out of better marketing than anything else. For example, when I searched facebook for their page, “WITS” didn’t turn up the page. I had to physically type in the whole name before it showed up. I think if more gym owners knew that WITS entailed going to school for 6 weeks, it would carry a lot more weight than being NCAA accredited.
Honestly, NCAA doesn’t matter to me. The same goes for other organizations that “certify” the certification organizations – and there are several of them out there (NCAA appears to carry the most weight though). I’ve seen the paperwork involved with getting accreditation through at least one of these organizations -it’s like a cavity search! In the past, I also taught the “prep course” for another one of these organizations and it was no different than what I normally teach for AAAI/ISMA. While I can appreciate the goal to raise up the industry, I look at it as a way to suck money out of certification organizations.
Really glad you are happy with your WITS cert!
You sent me here from the BodyBuilding forum so I figured I’d finally share my experiences. I took both the ACE and WITS CPT programs. At the time, I had already been studying for my ACE certification and was looking for class-time to supplement my reading. I found WITS at the community college listed as a 3-credit college course.
What I will say about WITS is it has potential. Offering classroom interaction and lab-time isn’t offered through many of the more accepted certifications without a pricy add-on. Unfortunately, what they do offer by way of the classroom was a disappointment.
Our teacher clearly knew her stuff. She had a master’s in kinesiology and a certification through ACSM. But upfront she told us that the WITS program was an eight week “crash course” in personal training. The required textbook is comprehensive and covers all of the same anatomy, physiology, and professional skills covered in the ACE manual. WITS also provides a workbook that highlights the fundamentals.
I can’t speak for all WITS locations, but my experience was underwhelming. The teacher spent each class reading verbatim from the workbook, essentially reciting what we needed to know to pass the exam. Likewise, our time in the lab covered the functionality of basic exercise machines and assessment tests.
What was uniquely bad about my experience was the location of the lab. Living in Center City Philadelphia, I opted for the community college location because they have a gym and I can walk there. However, WITS uses a commercial gym in the northeast corner of the city. Many of us spent the first day figuring out how we’d get there from the college, and in each class, about an hour was wasted commuting to the gym in crowded cars.
If WITS were considerably less expensive it might serve as an excellent introduction to the industry for someone with a very basic understanding of exercise science and fitness in general. But in that regard, it offers about the same level of learning as the many fly-by-night weekend Groupon deals. If you’re looking for the kind of introduction WITS does offer, the same money would be better spent on a credited college course in physical education.
While ACE doesn’t offer classroom or lab time, it does offer extremely effective online and over-the-phone tutoring from very receptive and enthusiastic professionals. They don’t just want you to pass the exam, they want you to grow from the experience. ACE does offer some of the usual add-ons like flashcards and additional manuals. Some may find them useful depending on your learning technique, but I found the flashcards unnecessary.
One of ACE’s biggest advantages is its very comprehensive website which contains daily study tips and is constantly being updated with additional learning material. This is perhaps the biggest divide I found between ACE and WITS, and where WITS really seemed to fail: their attention to detail and to their students and graduates.
Upon passing the ACE exam, the ACE website opened up to even more resources, tools for tracking my required CECs, a free professional website, and an abundance of tips on the various avenues with which to start a career. On the other hand, WITS never offered individualized access to their website, and the website is very bare-bones and poorly designed.
In the end, ACE was very committed to my comprehensive understanding of the material – evident in both a robust exam and enthusiastic tutors – and they continue to serve as a valuable resource to trainers holding their certification. They have a good reputation for a reason.
WITS seems to operate more like an arbitrary certification, something that offers a relatively easy “CPT” to add after your name on resumes. Obtaining a WITS certification is very similar to receiving one for Business Analysis or Project Management. It’s something employers want and WITS will help you get it.
As an emerging field with more and more gyms requiring certification, I think WITS will eventually have to step up their game. Again, they have potential that other programs don’t. With eight classes each eight hours long, their teachers have the time to cover the same material covered in a 3-credit college course, plenty of time to ready someone for the field.
Unfortunately, it seemed less like a physical education classroom and more like an adult driver’s ed course. I really don’t want to fault my teacher or her assistant because they knew their stuff, but I have a feeling WITS holds them to pass-fail requirements they need to meet.
In order for WITS to continue justifying charging the same price as ACE and other programs, they need to beef up their extracurricular resources, website, and general attention from their organization. They have the tools and access to the classroom, if they tapped into the resources they have, they really could be one of the top CPT programs.
Joe Cannon says
Wes, thanks for sharing your experiences. I think you did a good job at giving an unbiased testimonial and I’m sure your constructive criticisms will be considered.
Davida Singleton says
Can anyone offer any studying tips! My exam is 1 month out. I need help. Please and thanks
Joe Cannon says
Davida, do you mean with the written or practical part of the test?
Study the workbook they handed out on the first day. And their website has a practice test you can buy, $6 or something like that. You get the questions and answers. If nothing else you will get a feel for how the format of the test will be.
Proud WITS Instructor says
I’m and instructor for WITS and so maybe I can give you a different perspective.
First I have a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Science and a Professional Master of Physical Therapy. I have over 15 years of experience working in outpatient orthopedics and sports medicine. I also taught group fitness for over ten years and have worked as a personal trainer in multiple settings.
In additional to my University education, I have completed additional training and certifications in Youth Fitness, Group Exercise Fitness, Pre-Post Pregnancy, Cycle Reebok, Personal Training and over 600 hours of professional continuing education for Physical Therapy spanning everything from advanced nutrition to yoga as a therapeutic tool. I am also completing an advanced certificate in Sports Nutrition through Western Carolina University.
I was honestly surprised by the scrutiny I received during the hiring process. In addition to submitting my educational background, I was required to submit several references (which were actually checked.) WITS also requires their instructors to go through an online version of the course (the entire 5 week course–last week for students is testing–as well as supplemental administrative videos, which includes passing quizzes and tests.
Furthermore, WITS has offered me several opportunities to complete additional training through them, which to me is to their benefit.
This is an entry level certification, which is meant to serve as a starting point for trainers…not an end point). WITS has taken great pains to standardize the experience, but I imagine that some instructors are better than others. We are required to follow a power point presentation, although we are encouraged to supplement with our own personal experiences. There is a lot of material to get through, but I always feel as if I have time to expand on a topic. They provide a manual which contains all the power point slides and notes as well as quizzes, detailed info about the internship requirements and process, lab manual and expectations/grading sheet for the practical.
They also provide a sample test online for students. The test is 100 questions, and it is hard. They tell students up front they will be expected to spend 2 hours outside of class for each hour in class. The practical covers health screening, blood pressure/vitals, fitness assessments to include 3-minute Step Test, Push-up Test, Sit-up Test, Flexibility Screening, YMCA Bench Press. Several other assessment are covered but not required for the practical. We also cover basics of cardiovascular programs, strength programs, flexibility programs, warm-up, safety, spotting, common training errors, program customization among other things. At this point there are 6 week and 9 week versions of the course.
The text book is comprehensive and well-structured and probably goes into a little more depth than someone lacking a science background is comfortable with, but this is not a flaw of the book or the course.
In addition to obtaining 70% on the exam (which is actually tough…they are tough questions that require a real understanding of concepts being tested), they also require that students achieve 70% on each of 5 separate sections for the practical. If students fail they have an opportunity to retake for a fee. Students must also complete a 30 hour internship and show proof of CPR certification.
WITS also offers a supplemental online version of the course discounted to 75 dollars. Students can miss one class/practical but no more in order to sit for the exam.
The courses are usually held at a community college and for this reason attract students with a range of backgrounds and interest. This is both a strength and weakness of the course, as not everyone fully intends to work as a personal trainer…some people simply want to learn more about personal fitness. Gym facilities can also vary depending on the college hosting.
As far as WITS not being known or recognized? My feeling is that this is sad. WITS really is trying to take the personal fitness certification to the next level by providing practical training and a more rigorous testing protocol. I have nothing but good feelings about what they are trying to accomplish and have accomplished, and I am proud of my work with them. I can not guarantee that this course is for everyone. I’m sure a lot depends on the instructor and the student’s expectation/needs, but I fail to see how what they are trying to do does not raise the bar compared to a home/study alternative.
WITS is also big on feedback and ask students to evaluate their entire experience. They give students a chance to comment on the course and the instructor. I can’t speak for their customer service as a student but have found them responsive as an instructor. Recently, I have seen that although they do not tell students what questions they got wrong they do provide info about content areas. For example, as part of the testing results you will learn that you got a 60% on the nutrition area and 90% on legal area kind of thing.
I offer to stay in contact with all my students. I make recommendations for internships (though this is really the responsibility of the student) and I will go as far as contacting them if I feel that I have a future opportunity that they might be interested in. My experience is that most students are happy/satisfied with the process as a whole. I base this on the course evaluations I read and the ongoing relationships I have with past students.
Joe Cannon says
Proud, Thanks for writing and sharing your unique experiences as a teacher for WITS. I’m positive that everyone reading your comment has benefited greatly from them.
You have a fantastic background. If you want to share your name or website and the areas you teach, I’m sure people would appreciate that also.
This article does help, as do the comments. I was on the fence about taking WITS at my local community college or taking ACE or ACSM online. I believe that I will end up with ACE, just because I like the packages they offer better along with the fact that they are a powerhouse in the industry.
I have called around to gyms in my area inquiring about the internship and they replied that their customers want a certified trainer, not an intern. That’s just my personal choice based on the fact that I am a self-paced learner.
My biggest issue with ACSM is just the lack of study tools and help provided. After doing my research and making my spreadsheet, ACE is the best choice for me.
Joe Cannon says
Paige, I think you will be quite happy with ACE. As I mentioned in your email to me, here is a post on the ACE test that should help you http://joe-cannon.com/ace-personal-trainer-test-study-tips/
Its sad about what you said about gyms not wanting interns. I don’t think they understand what an asset an intern can be. Id bet if you went to a smaller facility (not a big box gym), you might get a better response.
I just completed the WITS course only to find that the medically based fitness clubs near me no longer accept WITS certification. I asked my club’s manager why (he’s a former WITS instructor himself and had only good things to say about the course), but he wasn’t sure.
These clubs grandfathered the trainers who have WITS certification, but they had to acquire another acceptable certification within a certain time frame.
So, it looks like I will be signing up for another cert course while the training is still fresh in my mind. I was thinking about ACSM or NASM — does anyone have any advice on the various online courses? I thought the WITS course was plenty challenging and don’t want to get in over my head.
Joe Cannon says
Hi Jackie, that is so strange! Can you tell me the name of the medically-based fitness club? Maybe I can try to find out whats going on? Have you tried to reach out to WITS to see if they can do anything on your behalf? The founder of WITS is Jay Del Vecchio. I know him and he’s a nice guy. You might try reaching out to him personally to see if he can shed light on this?
As for other certs,since you mentioned this health club chain is medically based. Because of that I’m tempted to say ACSM but that is the easy answer. Do you have a list of certs that the health club chain does accept? The clubs manager should be able to tell you other organizations they accept. I believe with your WITS cert, you should have no trouble passing most other certs out there. A few that I like that your club might also accept include:
I linked to their websites so you can check them out if you want more info on them.
I’m not generally a fan of NASM and you can read my reviews on them for why.
Again, let me know the name of the club and I’ll try to see what might be going on.
There are multiple fitness centers in NJ affiliated with a major university hospital system. The certifications they accept include:
I thought they also accepted ACSM, but I don’t see that on the list. Nor is AAAI/ISMA, IFTA, or ACE on the list. Perhaps WITS training is deemed to be not as thorough as the certifications noted above?
The 36-hour WITS course was compressed into 6 weeks (with the 6th week consisting of both practical and written exams), so it was quite intense and challenging. I already have a bachelor’s degree, so it’s not like this is my first experience with a demanding class. I did at least 2-3 hours of reading, prep work, and studying for each hour spent in class. It was a great course with a terrific instructor and I learned a lot.
Since my goal is to work with the older population (aged 50-80 years), a medically oriented fitness center is the place to be, so it looks like I’ll need another certification if I want to seek a job there. Still, I was a bit surprised that online courses, which do not include a practical component, are acceptable while WITS training is not. But I honestly don’t know enough about the online certification courses to judge why they are preferred.
As you mentioned, I’d like to think that my WITS cert would help me pass any of the acceptable online certification courses, but I can’t assume that because there’s no way for me to compare the content or requirements of those courses with WITS. I’m at a loss for how to choose one, to be honest.
My advice to prospective trainers is, if you have your heart set on working at a particular club or facility, check first to see if there are certifications that they do/don’t accept.
Joe Cannon says
Jackie, I am equally shocked that the gym would accept NCCPT (an online cert) but not WITS. WITS is superior in my opinion.
I’m sure ACSM is on the list even though its not formally listed. To not accept ACSM would be just dumb on their part. Ask about AAAI/ISMA. I teach for them in NJ as do others. I also focus- where possible -on older adults. AAAI is only $99 so if that’s an option to get your foot in the door, then so be it.
Have you ever considered being a self employed trainer and marketing yourself directly to the people you want to help? That’s definitely an option for you.
I agree with what you said about checking the gym you want to work at first. it’s one of the points I made in my review of how to be a personal trainer.
I just became certified through WITS this summer/fall. I really enjoyed the program. Yes, the classroom section does follow slides/power points. The instructor did make the comment that that is what they have to do. You are given a workbook for lecture and lab, which basically the classes/slides just follow the workbook page by page.
The six week Saturday program is really 5 weeks, as the testing for your certification is done on the 6th and final Saturday. I was able to do my internship at the gym I have been a member of for quite a few years, a gym which was not on the list they provide.
One of the reasons I choose WITS was for the internship aspect. I felt it would be a great way to network and start to get to make connections in the field. In fact, I have kept in touch with the instructor.
I’ve worked in the medical field for nearly 20 years and am looking to switch careers. I only started working out consistently and with a trainer about four years ago, but I loved how much better it made me feel and just the positive/ inspiring attitudes in that are found in that field. That’s why I decided to become certified myself. Hoping I can help people feel better about themselves as my trainer helped me.
I have not found a job at a gym yet. Some of the gyms I’ve talked to have not heard of W.I.T.S, so I do have to enlighten them a bit. When the internship aspect is mentioned, I notice they seem to perk up a bit. I’ve also heard trainers say if they’d known about or been able to do an internship during their certification process they definitely would have.
So, I would recommend them. I do plan on getting certified through ACE as well, just because that is one of the well known ones. I figure it can’t hurt to get another certification.
I would also like to add that W.I.T.S seem to give to plenty of opportunity to get your continuing education, some of them free. I just got my certification in October and have received monthly emails for a free CEU opportunity. They are hour long webinars and then just pass the quiz afterwards (email it back to them within the designated time) and you get your credit.
Joe Cannon says
Michelle, thanks for writing and sharing your insights on WITS. I really appreciate it as I know others here do as well. Keep me posted on your ability to get a job. Id think with your cert and background in the medical field, that you probably will be snatched up pretty quickly by a health club.
Happy New Year! 🙂
I am happy to report that I took the ACE personal trainer exam on Wednesday and passed! Also, a month ago I landed a part time position at a YMCA Wellness Center that opened across the street from the hospital I work at.
So far, I have only been able to be a wellness coach and work “floor time” as my manager wanted me to pass the ACE before I could personal train (he had not heard of WITS). So far so good! And I like that there is no “hard sale” of products or sessions at the Y.
Joe Cannon says
Michelle, that is fantastic! Congrats on passing the ACE exam! I also like the YMCA for the same reason as you! Much success and keep me posted on how things are going 🙂
Is it really necessary to get a personal trainer certification when you already have a BS in Physical education??
Joe Cannon says
Vic, I think it depends. Do you think you will work at a gym? If then, then Id say yes. Gyms often require a personal training certificate. They vary in the organizations they accept. Here is my review of how to be a personal trainer for more information on this.
If you think you will be self employed, then it may not be neceesary although do ask personal trainer liablity insurance companies for better insights. They also may require you to have a cert even if you have a college degree. Im not sure about this so that is why I recommend it.
I can tell you that a certification may be a good thing regardless if find yourself not needing it to get a job. I have a MS degree in exercise science. Very little of it was about “personal training.” I think the value of the cert is that it helps people apply the science of exercise and health.
Judy Leahy says
I wanted to comment that the WITS renewal fee has increased this year to $75.00. Previously it was $50.00, still significantly higher than what AAAI-ISMA charges. I can understand the higher cost for their fitness certification, but to charge that much to have their staff review the courses and issue a renewal certificate doesn’t seem right to me. I could pursue another certification for less if I felt like going through the testing again.
Joe Cannon says
Judy, thanks for the update on that! Merry Christmas 🙂
Thanks Joe. Merry Christmas to you too!
I really enjoyed my certification course. The instructor was more than qualified. In fact she had a masters in exercise physiology. She went above and beyond for the class and mainly spoke using clinical terms so that we may get used to using those terms. One thing you might have missed was I was required to get my cpr certificated before I received my certification.
Joe Cannon says
Raphael, thanks for the feedback. Im really glad you benefited from the WITS course you took.
I obtained my certification through WITS this year and interned at a local gym that Did Not know about WITS but was willing to give me a shot. They realized quickly that I knew my stuff and hired me. I kid you not that I studied a lot and the instructor was excellent and has many certs. She could not veer off for too long for she did have to follow the guidelines of the course.
At the beginning of each class she reiterated studying the Anatomy section for it could be the make or break it. Many scenarios on the final that contained Anatomy.
I started with ACSM on my on and felt it was too heavy and would get confused. This class is the same but breaks it down for the basic trainer with an instructor that can answer questions.
Joe Cannon says
Lana, that’s fantastic and I am so glad you had such a positive experience – and equally glad you were hired quickly by the gym you did the internship with. 🙂
Peter Spaziano says
I was certified by WITS about a year and a half ago. I enjoyed the experience of the instruction. I feel very good about my cert. I am now working as a PT at the local YMCA and love it.
Joe Cannon says
Peter, thats great and I’m glad you are doing well at the YMCA. I think Ys and JCCs are both great places to work!
I received my PT cert from WITS as well at a local community college. At the time, the internship was only 20 hours, which I obtained on my own at a YMCA, but I did not think there was enough hands-on time with clients. I have no criticisms about the classroom instruction. The instructor used the book but didn’t read from it and added from his own experience.
Joe Cannon says
Judy, thanks for the feedback. Are you working at a personal trainer now?
Not at the moment, but I keep my certification current and have trained people on my own. I don’t have enough flexibility to work at a fitness facility right now. I need to keep my full time job for the salary and benefits.
Joe Cannon says
Judy, I totally understand, it can be a challenge at first.
I looked at taking that course but after reading mixed reviews, I am still thinking of going with ISSA
Joe Cannon says
Mike, thanks for the feedback. Here is an interview I did with an ISSA trainer and I covered ISSA in my review of online personal trainer certs.
D Casco says
Caution, WITS does not have an NCCA accreditation which is a standard in reputable certifications, making WITS very limited. The top 4 personal training certifications are ACSM, NSCA, NASM and ACE, all have the NCCA accreditation.
Joe Cannon says
Hi D Casco, for what it’s worth, I think the idea of accreditation -by NCCA or any other organization -is not needed. I feel its an attempt by organizations to get money from fitness certification organizations. Basically the fitness certification organization pays these accreditation companies money for the privilege of being listed as accredited. While accreditation may “level the playing field” by ensuring that all organizations teach basically the same stuff, I think any organization that was sub par would eventually be downgraded by people. In other words, its in a fitness organizations best interest to provide the best information and education they can to their students. That’s my 2 cents anyway.
That could be said about any accreditation for certification and licenses. However, NCCA accreditation is what the majority of fitness employers and other fitness organizations desire, and often require. For example, as a comparison, any one could prepare taxes but most individuals would prefer going to a CPA. Everyone is entitled to a personal interpretation, but at the end of the day, it’s what the fitness employer or other fitness organizations look at, unless studying for personal knowledge.
Joe Cannon says
Hi Dave, thanks for sharing. I hear what you are saying and I see your logic. If there was just one such organization, I could understand it but there is more than one org and I feel that confuses people.
Just so you know, the WITS personal trainer certification is NCCA accredited. That is the reason the instructor is different from the tester and why they don’t have much info about what’s on it (they’ve never seen it)
Hi I just completed the wits course and now it’s accredited by ncca
Amy, thanks. Congrats on passing the WITS certification. What will you be doing now that you are a certified personal trainer?