What Is AFAA Certification and How Much Does It Cost?

AFAA certification

You want to be a personal trainer, but first you’re doing your research. There are about a bajillion personal training certification programs out there, and it’s tough to discern which one is right for you. You’ve seen some stuff online about AFAA, so you’re wondering, “What is AFAA certification and how much does it cost?” We’ve got the answers.


What Is AFAA Certification?

AFAA (Athletics and Fitness Association of America) is an organization dedicated to growing the number of fitness professionals. In business for over 35 years now, AFAA has been certifying people to work as personal trainers, group fitness instructors, health coaches, and more. Its certifications are recognized in over 73 countries, so signing up for AFAA doesn’t limit your career to the US.

To become AFAA certified, candidates must complete a comprehensive training program and pass a rigorous exam. The training program covers a variety of topics such as exercise science, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, injury prevention, and exercise programming. Additionally, candidates must demonstrate their ability to lead a group fitness class and provide proper instruction and modifications for various fitness levels.

Obtaining an AFAA certification is beneficial for individuals who want to enhance their career opportunities in the fitness industry. It not only validates their knowledge and abilities but also increases their credibility as fitness professionals. AFAA certified instructors and trainers are sought after by fitness centers, gyms, and studios as they are known for their expertise in providing safe and effective workouts.


How Much Does an AFAA Certification Cost?

It really depends on which certification you’re wanting, so here’s the itemized list for you:

  • Personal training certification: $499
  • Group fitness instructor certification: $399 to $799
  • Indoor cycling instructor: $449


Note: The above prices aren’t taking specials into account, so they could be a little cheaper when you do your research on the AFAA website.

Included in the cost of each certification: Study materials, tutorial videos, practice quizzes with answers, a digital subscription to American Fitness Magazine, and more.

Of course, there are other costs to consider: Like getting your CPR/AED certification if you don’t already have it (or need to renew it), getting a state-issued ID, getting your GED (if you don’t already have a high school diploma), etc.


Should I Get an AFAA Certification?

Part of doing the research here means weighing the PROs and CONs of getting certified with AFAA. What could go wrong? Why choose them over the other certification programs? Let’s review:


PROs of AFAA Certification

AFAA is NCCA accredited, meaning that it’s a nationally recognized program. The workshops and online video tutorials are easy to follow and teach the subject matter very well. AFAA’s recertification fees are cheaper than some of its competitors, and even if they weren’t, it has a “Recertify for Life” option, where you won’t have to worry about recertifying ever again, as long as you pay $299 up front.


CONs of AFAA Certification

AFAA Certification, despite being a long-standing organization with nearly four decades of establishment, carries certain disadvantages that are important to acknowledge. One significant downside is its comparatively lesser recognition among employers, especially when contrasted with other established certification programs like NASM and ACE. This drawback may affect the perceived value of the certification and, consequently, the employment opportunities offered to the AFAA-certified trainers.

Further compounding this issue, feedback reflected in online reviews points to another significant concern. Numerous reviewers have revealed mismatches between the exam questions and the provided study materials or online practice quizzes. This discrepancy not only increases the exam’s difficulty level but also affects the certification’s credibility. It might lead potential candidates to reconsider applying for the certification. Consequently, such criticisms can also affect the overall reputation of this organization within the fitness industry. Therefore, while AFAA does have several attributes, these challenges can impede its reputation as a certifying authority. In summary, prospective applicants need to weigh these cons against the pros before deciding to pursue AFAA Certification.

AFAA Reviews

In a few other blogs, we included reviews for ACE and NASM, ranging from 1 to 5 stars (or from “recommend” or “do not recommend” if they were Facebook reviews). To give you a realistic view of your future if you get AFAA certified, we’re including AFAA reviews and following the same pattern.


Sarah A. Recommends AFAA on Facebook

“If you’re about to take the exam or considering the course, don’t let these negative reviews fool you. I had zero problems with customer service. The exam questioned the material that they had given me to study. Everything lined up and was logical to me. I would definitely recommend them and look forward to the next thing I’ll learn through AFAA!”


Landon H. Gave AFAA 1 Star on Facebook

“To say that I am disappointed with the poor customer service would be an understatement. It is an absolute joke. The way they’ve basically taken someone’s money and said, “Oh, oh well. not our fault we had the wrong zip code,” and offer no remedy for obtaining the certification and product they paid for is reprehensible. You guys would rather take someone’s money than do the right thing in find solutions so that you keep happy customers. What a joke. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves.”


Manual A. Gave AFAA 2 Stars on Facebook

“I felt very misled by getting high passing scores on all of my quizzes and pretests and then failing my test. Although the pretest seemed similar, the actual test turned out to be quite different. In addition, a large portion of the questions were subjective. Furthermore, the study guide failed to adequately prepare me for the types of questions on the actual test. Consequently, I regret using this company for my certification and wish I had chosen a different one.”


Christine R.C. Recommends AFAA on Facebook

I was a little nervous after reading all of the reviews of those who did not pass the test. I actually pushed the test out so I could study more. Passed the test yesterday and although the test was not easy I felt the study materials left me more than prepared. As long as the you read the textbook, take all the practice tests multiple times (I took the practice final exam so many times my final score was 120/120) and study the study guide and flash cards you should be fine. Also taking a variety of classes for a more hands on experience is very helpful. I definitely recommend AFAA and will use them in the future.


Jeannie C. Gave AFAA 3 Stars on Facebook

“I have been a AFAA certified member for over 20 years. Their recert fees have recently changed and not for the better. I really appreciate the recert for life option at $299 but it should apply to both certs. I have the group and PT and there has always been a discount on the re cert fees. Really $600! Very disappointed!!”


Want to Be a Personal Trainer?

You found this online article because you want to be a personal trainer, but you’re not sure which certification program to choose. If you have a heart for changing lives and helping people grow, then consider getting a specialized certification with Strong Education. Our certifications enable you to work with children and adults with special needs. You’ll be able to identify with and help clients with both physical and cognitive disabilities in the future. Sign up today!


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