Frequently Asked Questions

A: Your Personal Trainer Certification CFT package should include the following:

  • Fitness: The Complete Guide (the largest book in the package; 724 pages)
  • CFT Workbook and Study Guide
  • Fiscal Fitness
  • "How to Complete your Course" information packet
  • Dr. Arria's "Welcome letter"
  • Selected reminders and promotional material

A: The "How to Complete your Course information" packet contains step-by-step review and preparation information for each of the two available testing options: Home Study Examination and Online Examination. Review the packet for study options and testing procedures.

A: The Workbook and Study Guide provides assistance in the retention of the course material. You are not required to submit the workbook in for grading. However, experience has shown that individuals who faithfully use the Workbook and Study Guide achieve greater understanding of the course materials than those who do not use a workbook. ISSA recommends that you actively use the Workbook and Study Guide to prepare for the fitness course examination.

A: You must meet the following:

  • Submission of all course quizzes
  • A score of 75% or better on all sections of the final examination
  • Proof of current Adult CPR/AED/First Aid certificate
  • High School Diploma or Equivalent
  • All fees paid in full

A: Yes, you must submit all course quizzes as part of your completion requirements.

A: Yes, Online testing, for both quizzes and final exams, is the preferred testing method. Online testing saves you the hassle of organizing and photocopying your answer sheets, saves you from a trip to the post office, saves you postage for registered mail, and keeps track of your submissions in your Member Account. What's more, online testing produces a much faster turn-around time for grading!

A: When you complete all of your course quizzes, you will be able to access and begin your final examination.

A: No, quiz scores do not affect your final examination score.

A: You may submit any number of quizzes at a time (a single quiz or a group of quizzes), but you must submit the quizzes in order. If you take the quizzes online, your Member Account will track your quizzes for you.

A: We highly recommend that you take your quizzes online at ISSAtrainer.com. Not only will you avoid the hassle of photocopies, registered mail, and a trip to the post office, you will receive immediate feedback on your performance. In addition, your Member Account will track all of your quizzes for you.

A: Submission of all of your course quizzes indicates that you have studied all of the course material and have enough background information to begin your final exam.

A: Yes, you may submit your quizzes entirely online, entirely by mail, or by using a combination of both.

A: Our server tracks and documents all of your quiz attempts and scores. This information is tied to your personal Member Account.

A: You may take the quizzes as many times as necessary, but we highly recommend that you do so online. If you request additional answer sheets to submit repeated quiz answers by mail, you will be required to pay an administration fee plus shipping and handling costs. Retaking quizzes online is free of charge.

A: Yes, as an enrolled student you are free to use all of the available resources at your discretion. If you would like to take your quizzes online but mail in your final examination, feel free to do so. However, taking your final examination online will reduce the hassle of organizing and photocopying your examination, and save you a trip to the post office and money for registered postage. Also, you'll get your results much faster!

A: You have three testing options and are at liberty to select whichever version best suits your learning and testing style. The examinations are not without difficulty. Remember, if becoming a professional in any field were without challenge, the profession's credibility would be questioned. Also, communication skills are essential to being a successful CFT. We have seen countless trainers who were quite experienced but lacked the communication skills necessary to succeed financially and professionally. Being able to express yourself verbally and in writing is imperative to your success. Don't forget: Our Educational Support Team is here to help! Please contact our Educational Support Team with any questions. Any student caught soliciting another person to take an exam will be immediately dismissed from the ISSA.

A: Yes, there are distinct advantages to submitting your examination online:

  1. You do not have to print, organize, or photocopy your work for your records
  2. You do not have to make sure your name is on every page of your examination; our server tracks your submissions for you
  3. You save yourself a trip to the post office
  4. You save on postage for registered mail (and overnight postage if you are in a time crunch)
  5. You don't have to worry about your exam being lost en route or wonder when your exam was received
  6. Your examination is logged into our grading center the moment you press submit
  7. The Educational Support team will receive your examination on weekends as well as weekdays, leading to a quicker turn-around time

We strongly recommend online testing for all students, especially those with potential job offers or time-sensitive pay increases.

A: If you take your examination online, our secure server will organize and track your examination for you. Exams submitted by mail must be stapled or bound in a manner that keeps the coursework and examination organized. All final examinations should be typed, not handwritten. Students must be sure to include their name on every page of their exam. We do not allow plastic page dividers, sheet protectors or binders of any kind.

A: If you fail any portion of your Examination, you will be offered the opportunity to resubmit that portion of the examination, free of charge. (This is known as your second attempt at the examination.) Each retest beyond the second attempt (e.g., third attempt, fourth attempt, etc.) will incur a $50 administrative fee.

A: If you do not finish within 4 months, your student account will become inactive. If you fail to complete the program requirements within 4 months, you may request a 2-month extension, free of charge. If you fail to complete the requirements during your first extension period, you may request a final 2-month extension for a non-refundable fee of $99. Completion of the program beyond the final extension period requires re-enrollment.

A: All courses must be completed within 4 months of the official purchase date. If a new edition of a course becomes available during your enrollment period, you will be given the opportunity to upgrade to the latest edition of the course. A voluntary upgrade will extend your enrollment period to 4 months from the upgrade date.

A: ISSA personal training certificates are processed and mailed within three weeks after all certification requirements have been completed.

A: Students who submit their exam online will receive their results via email, using the email address provided at the time of testing. Home Study examination results will be sent by US mail. The communication via email or US Mail will be from the ISSA Educational Support Department. Students may contact the ISSA Educational Support Department for any questions regarding results.

A: All ISSA Professionals are required to maintain a current adult CPR/AED/First Aid certification. If your CPR/AED/First Aid expires before your renewal, you are responsible for updating your CPR/AED/First Aid status. Your CPR/AED/First Aid must be valid for at least 30 days beyond the date of submission.

Two options exist to satisfy this requirement:

A.  A hands-on CPR/AED/First Aid course from an approved provider
-or-
B.  A time-saving, more convenient and less expensive ISSA-approved online CPR/AED/First Aid course.(The ISSA-approved online course also automatically updates the ISSA database upon your successful completion.)

For more information on the ISSA-approved online course, please visit: https://www.issaonline.edu/certification/cpr/.

A: You have 4 months from your enrollment date to satisfy all the requirements of the program: submission of all quizzes, a score of 75% or better on all sections of the final examination, proof of valid CPR/AED First Aid, and all accounts paid in full. You will not earn your certification until you have met all requirements.

A: The American Heart Association and Red Cross are two of the most popular providers in the United States. CPR/AED First Aid classes can also be found through local gyms, fitness facilities, fire departments, hospitals and YMCA's.

A: The ISSA-approved online course also automatically updates the ISSA database with your documentation upon your successful completion. 

Otherwise, ISSA requires a copy of the front and back of your CPR/AED/First Aid card. Copies can be submitted via fax (805.745.8119) or mail (1015 Mark Ave, Carpinteria, CA 93013). Please contact Student Services with any questions you might have regarding CPR/AED/First Aid submission at 800.892.4772.

A: ISSA student identification numbers are printed at the bottom of each certified student's certificate. If a personal training certificate does not indicate the student identification number, the student should contact the Student Services Department between 7am and 5pm, Monday through Friday at 800-892-4772.

A: Policies are as follows:

STUDENT'S RIGHT TO CANCEL

Refunds, if applicable and requested, will be made within 30 days of request via the original payment method. If cancellation occurs at any time within 7 calendar days after the institution accepts enrollment, the student may request a refund of all money paid to the institution. After 7 days, the institution may retain the $95 non-refundable tuition deposit and other nonrefundable fees as applicable (e.g., STRF / S&H / payment plan fees). If third-party payment is used for tuition (e.g., TA, Ch33 GI Bill, etc.), this amount will be charged directly to the student upon cancellation.

Refund Calculation

Undergraduate courses (courses with published start and end dates):

  1. The course start date is considered the first class.
  2. Cancellation after the course start date, but before 60% completion of the term, will result in a prorated refund computed on the number of days completed to the total days in the term.
  3. Cancellation after completing 60% of the term will result in no refund for the term.
  4. Students who withdraw as a result of physical incapacity are entitled to a prorated refund through the end of the term. Medical documentation required.

Self-paced certificate courses:

  1. The first completed quiz is considered the first class.
  2. Cancellation before 60% completion of course quizzes, will result in a prorated refund computed on the number of quizzes completed to the total quizzes in the course.
  3. Cancellation after completing 60% of the course quizzes will result in no refund.
  4. Students who withdraw as a result of physical incapacity are entitled to a prorated refund through the end of the enrollment period. Medical documentation required.
  5. Beyond the conclusion of the original 4-month enrollment period, students enrolled in self-paced certificate courses are no longer eligible for refunds in any amount. ISSA accepts cancellation in any manner. However, California state statutes require that students verify cancellation in writing. Therefore, please supplement any verbal requests with written notice within 30 days. Written notice can be in any form including email (billing@issaonline.edu), fax (1.805.745.8119) or mail (1015 Mark Ave, Carpinteria, CA 93013).

Please return materials and textbooks to 1015 Mark Ave, Carpinteria, CA 93013.

A: Students can transfer a course to another student within three months of the original enrollment date. A completed Course Transfer Form, a copy of the current student's photo ID, and a $50 transfer fee must be submitted to the Student Services Department prior to the three-month limit. ISSA courses may only be transferred once. Authorization from a Student Services representative is required for all course transfers. (Contact Student Services at 800.892.4772.)

A: ISSA aims to provide its students with valuable resources such as educational support. Students may contact the ISSA Educational Support line as often as necessary to facilitate learning, even post-certification. ISSA is here to help students succeed! The ISSA Technical and Educational Support Department is available between 7am and 5pm Pacific Time, Monday through Friday at 1.800.892.4772 or 1.805.745.8111 (international). Students may also post questions inside the Members Section to receive feedback from our Technical and Educational Support Department as well as other ISSA trainers who frequent the message board.

A: Course exchanges will be granted within 30 days of purchase. In order to issue materials for the new course, ISSA must receive the original course package in its entirety, postmarked no later than the 30th day of enrollment. A $50.00 administration fee plus shipping costs for new materials shall apply. Students will be subject to the tuition reimbursement schedule of the new course commencing with the reassignment date. Remit a completed Course Material Return Form along with your course materials to: ISSA, Attn: Course Exchange, 1015 Mark Ave., Carpinteria, CA 93013

A: ISSA trainers are required to renew their certification every 2 years. This process consists of a renewal fee, updated CPR/AED First Aid certification, and documentation stating the completion of 20 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). (Please note, fulfillment of this specification is required of trainers only after they have received certification through ISSA. CEUs are not a prerequisite to receiving certification.)

All ISSA Professional Trainers maintain their professional status by:

  1. Submission of the CE Report Form and accompanying documentation of acceptable CE hours completed during the previous 2-year certification cycle. These documents can be uploaded online at: ISSAtrainer.com, under My Account.
  2. Proof of a valid Basic Adult CPR/AED/First Aid certification.
  3. Payment of renewal fees.

A: Member Renewal: $99. The fee must be paid at the time of renewal.

(The $99 renewal fee is waived if all 20 CEU's are earned through ISSA certificate, ISSA-specific CEU's or undergraduate courses.)

A: All ISSA Professionals are required to keep a current basic adult CPR/AED/First Aid certification. If your CPR/AED/First Aid expires before your renewal, you are responsible for updating your CPR/AED/First Aid status. Your CPR/AED/First Aid must be valid for at least 30 days beyond the date of submission.

A: One CEU credit is equal to 1 contact hour of instruction. All 20 units or contact hours must be taken through ISSA, an ISSA Continuing Education Provider, or other ISSA-approved continuing education activity. To be sure that a specific personal training course is approved, please contact the Continuing Education department at 800-892-4772 (Monday through Friday; 7am to 5pm PST), or visit https://www.issaonline.edu/continuing-education/approved-providers.cfm.

A: No, CEUs are not issued for CPR/AED/First Aid training. CPR/AED/First Aid training is a separate requirement for fitness certification and, therefore, will not double as credit toward your CEU requirement.

A: The ISSA seeks to uphold its standards of providing top-notch personal training education and information to its fitness trainers. Similarly, ISSA encourages its students to continue their learning with the most cutting-edge information available to health and fitness professionals. For this reason, CEUs earned in excess of the required amount cannot carry over because new information is always emerging in the field of exercise and health. 20 CEUs is the minimum requirement for every 2-year renewal cycle.

A: Upon completion of any ISSA course or approved provider courses, students will receive a certificate of completion/attendance. This documentation confirms completion of the CEU program. For college or university courses, students will need to obtain a copy of their transcripts or grade report to receive ISSA CEU credits.

A: No, students should keep their CEU documentation in a safe place until it is time for them to renew. Students may submit all required documents and fees in 1 renewal packet.

A: ISSA students may submit a petition for an unapproved provider's course. The course must be directly related to the member's fitness profession and educational growth in the professional fitness industry. A petition for each CEU program approval must be submitted and must be accompanied by all appropriate documentation and fees for review. Each petition is reviewed at the discretion of the ISSA advisory board.

A: Renewal packets may be submitted up to one year after the original expiration date. Late fees will be assessed to all applications that are received after their expiration date. For ISSA fitness certifications that have been expired for over one year, the applicant will be required to pay the appropriate fees and retest prior to reinstatement of the personal trainer certification.

A: Failure to complete CE requirements and timely renewal of your professional status may result in the forfeiture of your certification. We encourage you to complete continuing education requirements on time. A late fee will be assessed for applications not post marked by the expira- tion date. The late fee is in addition to the renewal fee. The following breakdown applies:

  • 3 to 6 months late$40
  • 6 to 12 months late $50

Once the completed renewal packet is received, your professional status will be renewed for two years from the date your renewal application is processed.

Example for when your completed renewal packet is received after your original expiration date:

Membership Expiration Date January 20, 2020
Renewal Application Received December 3, 2020
New Expiration Date December 3, 2022

A: Once the completed renewal packet is received, it will take three to four weeks for processing and mailing of the updated personal trainer certification. Incomplete packets will be returned and issuance of the updated personal training certificate will be delayed. Students should make sure the renewal packet contains all the required material and fees prior to submission to prevent time delays.

A: Personal Training deals with the art and science of physical conditioning combined with healthful behavior modification techniques that are preventive in nature, but not corrective, therapeutic, or rehabilitative. There is focus on the use of passive, active, and resistive exercise to maintain and improve human function.

In addition, personal trainers can work with technologies that include:

  • Health and fitness assessments and testing procedures;
  • Injury recognition, appraisal, preliminary treatment, and instruction; and
  • Counseling on wellness and public health issues, including
    • Weight management
    • Smoking cessation
    • Nutritional counseling
    • Stress management; and
    • Disease prevention.

At the date this was revised, there is no licensing for personal fitness professionals in the United States. A personal training certificate does not constitute a license to practice medicine. Unless you are already a licensed health care practitioner, it is important not to present yourself as a physician in any manner. Industry recognition, memberships, and liability insurance are available to ISSA graduates. Students should investigate the laws within the state in which they reside.

When a client comes to a personal trainer for health support for a particular problem, they will have received a diagnosis from a primary health care physician. If not, they should do so. The trainer can educate the client on health and fitness, which can complement any treatment prescribed by the primary health care physician. The focus of a trainer is not on disease or illness, but on fitness and health allowing the body to heal itself. Many primary health care physicians are willing to work with certified personal trainers to achieve the best overall plan for the client.

As a personal trainer, it is important to remember that your suggestions are complimentary to a primary health care physician. A personal trainer cannot diagnose a client as having a particular illness, or purport to treat or cure any disease. This constitutes practicing medicine without a license. However, there is a large scope for a certified personal trainer to educate the client without stepping over that line.

Note that if you are a health care practitioner, you may be able to adjunct your new training to your existing practice. Many RNs, MDs, Physical Therapists, and Pharmacists take the courses for this purpose.

A: Certification is a process by which ISSA, as a nongovernmental agency or association, recognizes the competency of individuals who have met certain qualifications as determined by the ISSA. To achieve your personal training certification from ISSA individuals must meet the eligibility requirements for certification and pass our personal training certification examination.

Certification provides both personal validation and validation for employers and consumers of the certificate holder's professional competence in the fitness field.

Specifically, certification:

  • Demonstrates to colleagues and superiors a dedication to quality healthcare and to the highest standards for conduct of fitness professionals.
  • Presents solid evidence to employers that an employee has trained and has been tested to implement best practices and apply current technology solutions, in addition to any abilities that in turn advance the organization.
  • Sets a person apart from uncredentialed job candidates.
  • Assures current knowledge through continued education and verification of base level competency.
  • Holds value to employers because it supports a worker's ability to uphold fitness industry standards and regulations, thereby potentially saving organizations from potential liabilities.
  • Catalyzes career development by augmenting resumés and adding recognition to candidates' capabilities. Since credentials appear after a person's name, they announce expertise with every signature.

A: As ISSA fitness professionals it is imperative that we keep up with the ever-changing and evolving recommendations for health and physical fitness that have a direct application for fitness programs and exercise recommendations.

ISSA is the industry leading first fitness organization in the U.S. to be accredited by a federally recognized agency. We are proud to be accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). The Accrediting Commission is:

  • Listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized agency
  • Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
  • Recognized by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA)

The International Sports Sciences Association is also an NBFE Affiliate, which allows ISSA trainers to sit for NBFE's National Board Certification Examination.

A: The definition of licensing is to give authority or formal permission from the proper authorities to perform certain acts or to carry on a certain business, which without such permission would be illegal. Requirements differ from state to state.

A: Accreditation by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) assures students that ISSA provides the highest quality in education. Because DEAC is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, students can access armed forces tuition assistance and even transfer ISSA courses for college credits.*

ISSA's accreditation by DEAC was based on state and federal agency reviews, financial audits, on-site inspections, student and alumni surveys, and a rigorous process of self-examination. Accreditation 'assures students that [ISSA] operates on a sound financial basis, has an approved program of study, qualified instructors, adequate facilities and equipment, approved recruitment and admissions policies, and advertises its programs truthfully.'

Institutions accredited by DEAC are examined to:

  • Have clearly defined and well stated learning objectives
  • Offer educationally sound and up-to-date courses
  • Provide satisfactory educational services to students
  • Demonstrate student success and satisfaction
  • Have a competent and academically qualified faculty
  • Carefully screen students for admission
  • Promote its courses truthfully
  • Be financially and administratively able to deliver quality educational opportunities
  • Have an effective research and self-improvement program

DEAC accreditation means that ISSA merits public confidence and delivers on its promises.

*College transfer credits are determined by individual institutions. Check with your college advisor to see if ISSA courses qualify at your institution.

A: The National Board of Fitness Examiners (NBFE) is a not-for-profit association dedicated to promoting excellence in the fitness profession through standardized and unbiased National Board examinations. NBFE exams will assess the competencies of fitness professionals currently working in the field and those who are newly graduated from a national certification program or college with approved curriculum. Assessments are designed, developed and deployed based on scopes and standards of practice as defined by the NBFE and its six advisory boards. The NBFE will serve the needs of state licensing authorities, fitness certification organizations, health clubs, colleges, the military, the medical profession, fitness trainers and the public.

A: The NBFE was formed because there are no regulations or national standards for Certified Personal Trainers. In recent years, the fitness industry has received harsh criticism by the media, Medicine, health clubs, and the public. Currently, an individual with no experience and minimal competency can buy a certification. Due to these contrasting standards and the lack of regulation in the industry, several states have legislation pending or in discovery to regulate the fitness industry without input from industry stakeholders.

On March 20, 2004 members of the NBFE met with the heads of many national certification organizations and International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) executives to discuss plans to establish national standards, and the development and deployment of national board exams.

A: Members of the NBFE will determine scopes, standards, and content for all NBFE assessments. The NBFE will draw members and input from six Advisory Committees representing all areas interests of the fitness industry. These committees are as follows:

  • Certification Organizations Advisory Board
  • Fitness Professionals Advisory Board
  • Health Club Advisory Board
  • Higher Education Advisory Board
  • Medical Advisory Board
  • Military / Armed Forces