AFAA Review 2019– AFAA Cost vs Value, Is AFAA worth it?

AFAA Review - AFAA Cost vs Value, Is AFAA worth it?

Hey there; it’s Coach Tyler here once again. Welcome!

By the end of my AFAA review, you will have a better understanding of what you will learn from this certification.

Whether you are looking for continuing education credits or as your first certification, you will know if it’s right for your style of training. It’s also necessary that you check out my article on the top five training certifications as well as my guide on becoming a personal trainer from scratch.

So, is AFAA legit? Let’s find out!

The menu at the top of this page will answer any question related to personal training that you have. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment here (I’ll respond within 24 hours). Also, visit the home page for the most recent and popular articles.

One other thing that I highly suggest is to take the quiz to see which PT certification is a good match for you and your personality.

AFAA Pros and Cons


Get 3 certs for 1 with the ISSA Elite Trainer Program ($1,400 of savings).

Save 25% on NASM with code PTP25 or Save $200 on the ACE CPT.

Get 50% off MVP study materials for NASM, ACE or CSCS at Trainer Academy
50% off NASM study materials or 50% off ACE study materials or 50% off CSCS study materials
  • Great workshop
  • NCCA accredited


  • Not the most accurate study materials for the test
  • Not very well known by employers

For individuals who like to digest their material in video format, here is the YouTube video I made on the AFAA CPT about three years ago. In general, this article is packed with more information and is more up-to-date.

AFAA Certification Review

Although 99% of online certifications are a scam, AFAA is in the 1% that are not.

To be honest, it is not 100% online. They have a workshop that lasts three days. The AFAA is now a subsidiary company of the popular NASM certification.

This is a middle-grade certification that I would put in the “general” category of certifications.

Let’s jump right into this AFAA review to see what this certification is all about.

If you are trying to get started in the personal training industry, I suggest that you check out my information on how much you can earn as a personal trainer.

General Information on the AFAA

General Information on the AFAA

This certifying agency was established in 1983. I put it in the ‘general’ category of certifications because their program lightly touches upon more than one area of personal training.

AFAA stands for the Athletics and Fitness Association of America, formally called the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America.

It doesn’t go in-depth in any one category, and like any other ‘general’ certification, it focuses mostly on working with overweight individuals, encouraging healthy eating, and correcting sedentary lifestyles.

Similar to most certifications, the AFAA requires that you recertify every two years and you need to gain continuing education credits to do so.

Since AFAA is an online certification organization, the most important question would be: is AFAA NCCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies) accredited?

The answer is YES!

The AFAA Group Fitness Instructor Certification Program is NCCA-accredited but the other certifications are yet to be NCCA accredited as at the time of writing this.

NASM and AFAA partnered together to design a spectacular Group Fitness Instructor program that is well recognized in the health and fitness industry.

Most of the certifications I talk about on this website are accredited by the NCCA. I think that the NCCA has stricter guidelines and is more reputable than the DETC (Distance Education and Training Council) in general.

In my view, both accreditation agencies are excellent.

As a standard practice in the health and fitness industry before writing an AFAA certification exam you are required to have, and bring along to the exam venue, the following;

  • A copy of a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • A current CPR and AED Certification prior to sitting for the exam
  • A valid Identification

Study Materials

Test and Study Materials

Unlike most other certification test questions, the AFAA includes a practical experience section in their exam. The majority of other certifications only offer multiple-choice sections.

To write and prepare for your AFAA Personal Trainer exam, you use your enrollment ID to register and schedule your exam.

You have 120 multiple choice questions with 20 research questions. The latter questions do not count whether you fail or pass them.

You have 120 minutes to complete the test. To pass, you must score at least 70%

The exam alone costs $199.

There is an additional AFAA study guide that you can purchase from their website.

Also, their textbook, “Fitness Training,” will cost you $69. They also have a fitness assessment DVD for $20 and a practice test for $20.

Overall, you should expect to pay around $600 for all the study materials and the workshop.

Your certificate will be sent to you 4 to 6 weeks after you pass the exam. The certifying organization will not release your score until about two weeks after it has verified your score.

Test methodology

As for the practical exam, you have 30 minutes to demonstrate cardiorespiratory workout and the second 30 minutes for body stretch after which you give a verbal explanation of what you are doing.

If you fail your exam in the first attempt, you are allowed to rewrite a week later. If you fail again in your second attempt you are given another chance to rewrite the paper after 30 days.

If you fail the exam the third time, you are to wait for a year before you will be given the chance to write again.

It means you still need to study more before attempting it again.

I have met several candidates that have failed the practical test more than once.

I think you should spend time during the 3-day workshop to prepare for the practicals. No one wants to flunk exams on a steady basis, isn’t it?

I think it is good to switch things up by combining true-false and multiple-choice practical sessions with written sections to round out your certification.

Most certifications use a third-party testing center to create their exams, so it makes sense that those tests are only multiple-choice.

ISSA is the other certification that tests practical knowledge.

To get certified by AFFA, you need to attend one of their workshops.

You can find workshop locations based on your area code if you go to their website.

AFAA online Personal Fitness Trainer certification

AFAA online Personal Fitness Trainer certification

The AFAA Personal Trainer certification costs $499.

They have a 4-time Interest free payment plan of $124.75

This price includes entrance to the examination, a study guide and a one-year membership.

Once you enroll for the Personal Trainer Certification program you must complete it within a year.

Get 3 certs for 1 with the ISSA Elite Trainer Program ($1,400 of savings).

Save 25% on NASM with code PTP25 or Save $200 on the ACE CPT.

Get 50% off MVP study materials for NASM, ACE or CSCS at Trainer Academy
50% off NASM study materials or 50% off ACE study materials or 50% off CSCS study materials

You are required to have a current CPR and AED certification upon the completion of your Personal Trainer Certification program.

Note also, that the workshop will be led by an AFAA certified instructor; so brace up!

AFAA Recertification

AFAA Recertification

You know that in the Personal Trainer business, things keep on evolving. Health and fitness professionals keep on carrying out research and studies to create a better way of solving fitness issues and help people better.

That is why you need to get recertified.

An AFAA Certified Personal Trainer must complete Continuing Education Units courses within two years.

AFAA has a number of approved courses for recertification which are designed to help you to improve on your background knowledge around personal training matters.

Below are the AFAA Continuing Education Units approved by the AFAA for a Certifed Personal Fitness Trainer.

  • Special Populations Exercise Specialist
  • Pain Management Specialist Certification. In pain management courses, you will be taught as a personal trainer how to manage old injuries and injury prevention.
  • Personal Trainer Business and Sales course. Here you learn the Personal Training business and how to make money from your profession.

AFAA provided two options for recertification.

You can either pay $99 as a recertification fee every two years or pay $329 to be recertified for life.

The one-time $329 payments shield you from paying for recertification every two years. All you need do is to get your required CEUs from an AFAA accredited organization and your current CPR and AED, and then submit for renewal.

The benefits of life recertification are;

  • The $329 is a one-time payment and you don’t have to pay again to recertify; all you need to do is get your necessary documents for certification renewal every 2 years
  • You get a 25% discount on all AFAA specialization CEUs
  • You get a 25% discount on the live workshop
  • You also get free shipping for any of your orders from AFAA
  • Finally, you get a free 3 credits course for your CEUs every 2 years

AFFA requires that their certified health and fitness professionals spend a minimum of 15 hours (1.5 credits) within two years to earn CEU credits to upgrade themselves.

AFAA also accepts CEUs acquired from other organizations other than their own but you need to pay $25 for verification of the certification for each of the CEUs you submit for certificate renewal purposes.

Be that as it may, you must ensure that at least 2 of your CEU courses are from AFAA approved organizations.

From the day your certification expires, you have a 30 to 90 days grace to submit the required documents and apply for recertification.

You will pay a $25 fee for late submission for recertification.

After the 90 days grace period, you are to start afresh by applying for AFAA Personal Trainer Certification.

AFAA Workshops

AFAA Workshops

Attending the 8-hour workshop is a great way to upgrade yourself. The workshop alone can earn you 8 AFAA Continuing Education Units credit.

You need 15 units to get certified.

The workshop is where real work gets done. That is where you get practical applications of what Personal Fitness Training is about.

At the workshop, there are simulations of real-life situations that every personal trainer may possibly face.

It is not wise to skip the workshop because that is where the real action takes place. They also hold small lectures at the workshop but these are mainly for physical training and not the theories in the study guide and textbook.

You are required to attend the workshop within an 18 months period before it expires. If you, by any chance, miss the certification workshop, you would have to pay the full price again.

No refund, because that’s on you!

AFAA Online Personal Training Fitness Certification

AFAA Online Personal Training Fitness Certification

The online version of AFAA PT Certification does not exclude you from doing the physical training that the Personal Training workshop entails. The only difference is that you need not be present physically in the workshop.

With the online version, you are provided with 14 online lecture videos coupled with digital copies of study guides and practice questions.

You also have a 50 minutes online session where you can talk to the AFAA fitness instructors and ask them questions.

This video conference is very interactive and beneficial.

If you want an extra session with any of your instructors you are required to pay $40.

The AFAA online Personal Trainer Certification will set you back $499.

Referral Programs

AFAA referral programs allow you to earn a minimum of $50, and up to $300 worth of credits.

This referral credit can be used to purchase any AFAA program within a year. Your friends only need to insert your special code/name at the time they are registering for you to get your credit.

Note, however, that only the Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Fitness Trainer certifications are available for this referral program.

AFAA Review Conclusion

My overall rating:

If you’re still having trouble finding which training certification is for you, take the quiz to help guide you in the right direction.

Most people say that the test is a lot harder than the practice exams they provide.

In any case, doing well during the practice exams does not ensure you will pass the final test.

The study materials provided do not prepare you very well for the test. It’s not that the test is difficult; it’s just that the study materials do not match up to it.

The workshop, on the other hand, I found extremely helpful.

Getting practical hands-on experience is one of the most interesting parts of becoming a personal trainer.

Overall, I think it is an “okay” certification for beginners even though I do not like the fact that it is not NCCA accredited.

I strongly advise that you should check with your potential employer to see if they accept AFAA. The gym I worked at when I went to school did not accept certifications that weren’t accredited by the NCCA.

If you ask me, I would recommend you start out with a certification that has excellent study materials such as ACE or NASM because you will find it much more comfortable and less stressful going through one of those programs.

They are highly recognized within the industry and have a fantastic curriculum as well as useful study materials.

I suggest that you check out some of my other personal trainer certification reviews such as ACE, NASM, ACSM, and NSCA.

Also, make sure to check out my comparison certification section to see articles like NASM vs ACSM, ISSA vs NASM and NSCA vs NASM!

I highly recommend that you check out the AFAA site for more information, and drop me a note in the comment section to let me know what you think about this review!

6 thoughts on “AFAA Review 2019– AFAA Cost vs Value, Is AFAA worth it?”

  1. Hi Tyler! Great website! I’ve been addicted to it the last few weeks. Quick question for you… Do the NASM and ACE certs have any emphasis on group fitness? My goal is to be a group fitness instructor and wondering if I should start with AFAA or go right to NASM (which I’m leaning towards). Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hello Aubrey,
      The national Academy of sports medicine is a general personal training certification and does not really touch on group exercise fitness. If being a group fitness instructor is your primary goal, you should definitely consider getting a group exercise certification. I like the ones from ACE and NASM. I think it is a great complementary certification to any general CPT. That being said, I think that getting a general personal training certification first is extremely important. I hope this helps

  2. jillian varetimos

    I took my AFAA test today and failed and I am extremely frustrated!!! I studied my butt off, studied all of the things I was suppose to, all quizzes at the end of the chapters, mid-term, and practice test all in which I passed. I found the exam at the testing facility to not be anything like the practice ones, a few similar questions but a lot of grey areas. I am very disappointed and I do not know what to study now for my re-take.

    1. Hello Jillian,
      I’m so sorry that you did not pass your Exam for the athletics and fitness Association of America. Just like in the exam from NASM (same company) The exam can be very confusing and just like you said have a lot of gray areas. Unfortunately I do not have a free study guide or practice exam on my website for the AFAA (yet!). I do recommend using space repetition flashcards in order to study some of the more difficult topics. Try to focus on the chapters that were giving you the most difficulty as well. I believe that you will come back stronger than ever and actually retain the information for longer because of the setbacks. You got this!

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