Right now I am studying ACE (American Council on Exercise) to be certified as a personal trainer. I also plan to shortly start studying one of their specialty certifications, and I’m going to choose their functional training certification.
There were several decisions that led me to choosing this certification, one of those being cost; I wanted cheap, but not too cheap, and I felt ACE’s priciest bundle fit that. But there were several other reasons as well:
- They are certified by the NCCA, which is the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. I was originally going to go with ISSA, and I still am interested in eventually studying them, but they’re not accredited by the NCCA, and I want to ensure I’m certified by an organization that is accepted anywhere and everywhere.
- I read that they were a good certification to start with. Not only is their cost something I can handle, but I have zero background in science anything despite being a self-professed science junkie. I originally wanted to be a zoologist, but anything beyond pre-calculus terrifies me. So the fact that people said ACE is good to start with was very attractive to me. This isn’t to say I’m looking for an easy way out, because…
- I like that they practically offer an entire online classroom if you purchase their entire course bundle. You get quizzes, videos, and two practice exams to work with. I also like that an activity book comes with the textbook and that the exercise science textbook has workbook pages in it. The exercise science videos also include questions you can answer–and a DVD comes with the science textbook. You also get flashcards. All of this has been incredibly helpful to me.
- I’ve read that the ACE-IFT model, which is their integrated fitness training model, was very useful as far as program creation is concerned, and having thoroughly read through the textbook, I do see the IFT model being extremely useful in my career. In fact, I’ve been utilizing this model on my friend, and it has thus helped him out so far. Granted, I want to try another certifying agency, just to see a different approach on exercise programming, but I like that the IFT model is focused on the average person you’re going to train. It’s the perfect blueprint for program design, and I would not say it’s some one-size-fits-all thing. I’ve read that some certifications are far more science-heavy and focus less on program design. While I think the science is important, it’s just as important to know how to implement that science in program creation, and ACE does that. ACE bases a lot of their guidelines on ACSM or NCSA anyway.
- They offer a lot of specialty certifications, many of which I am interested in. I plan to do functional training as my first specialty, then nutrition, then weight loss, and then I’ll go from there. They also have a group fitness instructor certification I’ll probably try to earn within the next year or so. Not only do they offer plenty of specialty certifications, but they have a lot of CECs, which are continuing education credits, that you can earn from them. This certificate seems promising when it comes to giving me a lifelong education.
Now I’ve read that apparently the exam is among the easiest exams. I can’t really attest to this considering it’ll be my first PT exam, but I will say I’ve had to study super hard, just to pass the two practice exams. A lot of it is applied knowledge; thus, there are hardly any recall info questions on the practice tests. I took the first practice test and didn’t even bother scoring it because I knew I didn’t do well. I did well on the second one, but I spent a month studying before I decided to retry the first practice exam.
I’ve also read a few horror stories of people who have taken the exam but have failed it a few times, mostly because they can’t nail the application questions. Also, even if you have a degree in exercise science, if you don’t know their model, you’re likely not going to pass the exam. From what I’ve read online, several people with degrees in exercise science skipped reading over the manual and went straight to the exam…only to fail.
But, at the end of the day, it’s the trainer that makes the cert.