Lastly, each week will include a unit quiz. Keep in mind, there may be more than one quiz to complete in any given week. If the reading assignment covers four units, you will have four corresponding quizzes. The quizzes must be completed and passed in-order to unlock the final exam. The quizzes themselves are not that difficult, and it is all open-book.
As we just mentioned, the course is completely, 100% open-book. That means that each quiz, each final exam prep question and even the final exam itself is open-book. There are people who are going to hate on this. I think it is a good thing. Think about when you are out in your field, you should always have access to the information needed, and not just memorization and regurgitation.
I have rated the following main categories on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of difficulty. This should help you.
- Reading Assignments – 5
I am not a huge fan of reading. Some of the reading assignments are multiple units long. Depending on your everyday schedule, this can be difficult to complete in a timely matter. In fact, I got caught up with the website transition that I had to ask for an extension (I never needed to use it as I still completed the certification within the 10-weeks). Just take your time with the readings, highlight and take notes.In terms of the actual content, I love fitness so it wasn’t too difficult for me. My brain does not work the best when it comes to sciences (i.e. human anatomy) so this was more difficult for me. Understanding all the bones, muscles and joints, because there are so many of them, took me some time, but you always have access to your book.
- Weekly Quizzes – 2
Honestly, the worst score I got on any one quiz was an 80% and that was only because I rushed to get through it. You can re-take the quizzes until you get 100%.
- Final Exam Prep Questions – 5
They give you 4-6 choices, some are harder than others, some are more interesting than others. I choose questions that were interesting to me. You have to write a minimum of 250 words, but it goes by pretty quick. Just be sure to incorporate course concepts.
- Study Guide / Workbook – 2
The images and questions come directly out of the readings
- Final Exam – will answer this in the next session.
The Final Exam
The final exam is broken into five parts. They are:
- Multiple Choice
- Picture Descriptors
- Final Exam Prep Questions
- Training Programs Design
The following sections will talk about each and give them a difficulty rating.
Multiple Choice – 3
These questions are very similar to the weekly quiz multiple choice questions. In fact, you will find that a lot of them are reused during this section. Take your time when you complete to make sure you don’t rush through. Read the full question and answer with what you think is the best answer. I flew through this section, hence the easy difficultly level.
True/False – 2
This is again similar to the weekly quiz questions. Some of the quiz questions are true/false. I actually found this section easier than the multiple choice. If you are prepared from your readings and workbook, you will fly through these.
Picture Descriptors – 2
This section will show you a photo of an exercise. Then there will be four multiple choice questions with each photo. It will ask the following:
- What is the name of the exercise?
- What muscle is being worked?
- What is another exercise that would work the same muscle?
- What is the origin point of the exercise?
These are directly out of your course text. Find the exercise and answer the questions.
Final Exam Prep Questions – 5
If you completed the guided study, and followed it, you would have already completed these. You would just copy and paste your answers here. The rating above reflects the original rating from before.
Training Program Designs – 7
You are given two different clients with different lifestyles and different goals. Your job is to design a 12-week periodized program that will help them reach their goals. The only reason I scored this as higher difficulty is because the course text, in my opinion, doesn’t do a great job with program design. That said, every client is different, so this is a not a cookie cutter approach by any means.
The course text does describe periodization. This is what you need to follow. This was more beneficial for me than the sample programs they included in the text. They only included several sample programs so it is natural to get nervous here.
The main thing here is do not overthink the program. If someone’s goal is to lose weight, you know what to do in terms of diet, exercise and tests. Follow your instincts and your knowledge.
The most important part is to showcase your knowledge. Use course concepts. Use what you’ve learned to provide an in-depth 12-week program that you know in your heart is correct. If you are confident, you will do just fine.
You also need to discuss any type of testing you want to perform with your client. Tests the course talks about are VO2 Max, Resting Heart Rate, 1RM, Body Fat Percentage, etc. Make sure to include specific tests and why you think they are important.
You need to discuss diet as well. The 12-week program is not just training. We all know that abs are made in the kitchen. Make sure you use common sense when talking about how you want your client to eat to obtain their goals.
Getting your score from your final exam takes up to three business days. It is rather quick. If you think about it, the multiple choice, true/false and picture descriptors go quick. ISSA has to personally read your final exam prep questions and your training program designs. I got my score back in two days. I passed with a 93%.
Post Final Exam
ISSA requires you to pass your final exam and your CPR/First Aid certification in order to be CFT Certified. ISSA now provides an online course for CPR/First Aid. Their online course is cheaper than the in-person course. However, I will say, from experience, it is not as in-depth or detailed. It’s almost an easier way out. I would recommend going to an in-person course to feel more confident.
ISSA does a great job post certification helping you out. They provide you with client intake forms, business cards, a business website and help with job placement (if needed). You also still have access to the educational instructors. Also, you have your copy of Fiscal Fitness to help you run your own business.
The ISSA CFT Program was a great experience for me. Since I started lifting and eating right, I have always been in pretty good shape. It was by luck, maybe, that it worked out for me that way. I always had a sense I was doing things correctly in terms of lifting for size or cutting. Online articles can go a long way. However, the ISSA program did teach me a lot more than any online blog article.
I learned a lot about the human anatomy and how it works. I learned about muscle groups, and what types of exercises target each. I learned how to work with kids with disabilities or ladies who are pregnant. These are things the internet did not teach me.
Even after completing my ISSA CFT I wouldn’t say I am an expert. Each unit in the course only touches the surface of the topic. For example, Muscular Skeleton could be an entire semester, but in this program it is only one unit.
You have to be OK with the fact that you are not getting all the details with each unit. That’s what they designed 4-year degrees for. The purpose of the ISSA CFT is to give you basic understanding of the human body, how it works and how to manipulate it with exercise and diet to achieve a goal.
The burden still falls on you to continue educating yourself post-ISSA CFT. The certification is good for 2 years. To extend it, you must complete continuing education courses. You should always be learning anyways if you truly want to become the best in the business.
I enjoyed the ISSA CFT program. I like the open book concept. Not because it made the exam easier, but because we always have access to information. It shouldn’t be about memorizations and regurgitation, but about what we’ve learned.
I would recommend the ISSA CFT program for those looking for an online personal training certification program. It is affordable, gives you everything you need and educates yo to be a better trainer. The only downfalls are that their accreditation isn’t accepted everywhere and that there is some bias in the book (towards PowerBlocks and others). All-in-all, a solid CFT program.