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?