Hey everybody, and welcome to another PT Pioneer certification review.
Today I’ll be taking a spin with the WITS CPT, one of the many certifications I can recommend for new trainers dipping their toes in the industry.
My aim with this and other similar articles is to allow you the opportunity to decide which certification will work for you as an individual.
So, we’ll take a look at:
We all have our own unique flavor, and in the same way, different certifications cater to different preferences and circumstances.
That’s why I also recommend you take my quiz, which will also help you discover the best fit for you.
And without further to say, let’s get right into it.
About World Instructor Training Schools
WITS or World Instructor Training Schools was founded in 1993, making it a well enough established certifying agency.
Although not as prestigious or recognized as NASM or ACE, WITS is still pretty formidable and is an NCCA accredited fitness education provider.
While browsing the site, I did find something rather odd concerning their NCCA accreditation.
Their landing page states that they are the only NCCA accredited organization in terms of practical skills and knowledge, while their about page claims they are the first in that same regard.
This would make zero sense unless they meant it to be interpreted differently or perhaps made some kind of grammar error with the site copy.
After further investigation, it turns out that what they meant was WITS is the first institute to have NCCA accreditation in both written and practical assessments.
Other than that, WITS presents a great, standardized opportunity for trainers to obtain the necessary credentials.
The interesting thing about WITS is it’s actually a school. It’s not just an agency that sells academic programs, administers exams, and hands out certifications.
With WITS, you will actually be attending classes and participating in learning activities.
The way you learn can take shape in 3 basic forms. The first form is online classes, the second is a hybrid of online and in-person, and the last one is the in-person classroom attendance.
This all takes place within five weeks, after which you are left to your own devices.
This unique take on the way a fitness cert is administered might have some major benefits, so let’s take a further look.
Pros and Cons
Come along and have a complete overview of the pros and cons of this certification.
Before I begin even to unravel the different aspects and features of WITS CPT, I’d like to lay out the pros vs. the cons and see what works and doesn’t work.
What works for one person might not work for another, and vice versa.
- Administered through different lecture options
- Well established with a robust offering of resources
- NCCA Accredited
The one thing I found interesting and exciting about WITS is the fact that they actually provide a learning experience.
As I said, WITS is a school and not just an agency that dishes out certification programs.
Even better is the fact that you can choose how to participate: online, in-person, or a hybrid of both.
WITS has been around since the early 90s, and while many of the gold standard certs have been around since the 80s, 70s, and even the 60s, WITS has been around long enough to establish themselves well and develop a great methodology over time.
They also provide college credits, which is a rarity in the fitness certification world.
Lastly, they are NCCA accredited, and while it is confusing to try and understand how they relate to their accreditation, they are accredited nonetheless, and for me, that’s a big must!
It’s important to look at the bad side of something in order to form an objective opinion and discern wisely if it’s the right choice.
- Not the most recognized certification
- Website information not up to standard
So the first disadvantage I can point out is simply the fact that WITS CPT is not the most recognized cert out there.
It has adequate weight in the fitness industry, but it’s not going to bust down as many doors as a NASM or ACE cert would.
This might affect you if you choose to go the employment route and start off by working for a gym, but if your aspirations are to be self-employed from the get-go, it’s not a huge drawback.
The next gripe I have doesn’t really impede the quality of the learning experience itself but is rather a minor administrative flaw, which hopefully doesn’t translate into a general drop in standards.
That being the information on the website is a bit confusing and grammatically incorrect in some cases.
Not much to say apart from, they should probably fix that.
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Here, I’ll show you what makes WITS accreditation very valuable and worthwhile.
As I mentioned earlier, accreditation is a big must as far as I’m concerned.
Of course, it’s not always necessary, but for the most part, when you’re dealing with fitness certification, you should go for the accredited ones.
Accreditation indicates that a cert is above board in two key areas: its core content and its administration.
Its content consists of the curriculum and educational resources. The content needs to be based on relevant evidence-based facts and the resources need to support a student towards success in the exam reasonably.
The administration deals with how well a certification handles its implementation of learning experiences and the examination process.
Once both these standards are satisfied, a certifying agency is eligible for NCCA accreditation.
WITS is a special case in that it has a practical component of its final exam accredited by the NCCA. Usually, they just approve of written exams.
This is what WITS tries to explain on their website in less than clear terms, but know you know what they meant because I told you.
Anyways, aside from just allowing you to know that the cert in question has met all the quality control standards, accreditation is also the best way to make sure you avoid courses or programs that won’t benefit you.
Many gyms and employers in the fitness space are bloodhounds for NCCA accreditation and won’t accept anything else.
It’s just easier for them to stick to one reputable standard and ignore the rest.
On top of this, many non-accredited certifications, especially the online-only ones, are potential scams, and you could end up paying for more than you bargained for.
Cost of Study Packages
Join me as I do a review of the cost of each study packages below.
Our next stop in this meticulous look at the WITS CPT cert is how much it actually costs.
From what I could gather, the exam registration fee is $350.
While the site doesn’t specify any study materials, the candidate handbook mentioned that the course does not offer any first-party study material.
I found an online store where you could purchase a bunch of books, so perhaps that’s how to do it.
So as far as cost is concerned, WITS CPT goes for $350.
There is also the WITS Health, Fitness, and Business academy, which goes for $250 for an annual membership.
From what I can see, it’s similar to the membership structures you’d get with certifying agencies like NSCA and ACSM. The only issue is I can’t figure out what benefits, aside from access to CEU courses, this membership provides.
So as far as price is concerned, $350 is not a bad deal. However, this is an exam-only fee, and when you compare it to some other certs and their exam-only packages, the value proposition isn’t too compelling.
Quality of Study Materials
Your ability to prepare for and pass the final exam hinges on the quality of study materials.
For this, I will evaluate them based on a scale of 1 to 10, with zero being the absolute worst and ten being totally flawless.
As I already mentioned, there are no first-party study material options. You are entirely left to your own devices, which is a huge drawback as far as I’m concerned.
The thing is, no matter how broad and generalized the exam content is, there will be a degree of specificity you will need to familiarize yourself with in order to navigate the exam successfully.
The layout and structure of the exam, which I’ll get to next, is always a unique factor, one that requires knowledge from in-house materials and study resources to grasp.
There is quite a good selection of textbooks and study material in the WITS online store; I’d definitely grab a few of these as they are reasonably priced and won’t shoot your total costs up too high.
Overall, I’ll give the study materials a 6/10.
There are no study materials, which is annoying and kind of hilarious, but at the same time, something is being done right since it is such a legit and somewhat recognized cert.
Exam Layout and Passing Grade
As I hinted at, each exam has its own structure and way of being presented.
In the case of health and fitness certifications, most exams are organized around several domains.
Domains are sections or chapters that encapsulate certain key concepts of the curriculum and compartmentalize them for easier learning and assessment.
The first interesting thing about the WITS CPT exam is that it comes in two distinct parts, a written portion and a practical portion.
It isn’t the first certification to do this, but as mentioned previously, it is the first one to have the practical component of the exam accredited by the NCCA.
So with that said, the best way to break down the exam layout is to look at the written and practical components separately.
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The written exam is a 100 question multiple choice paper.
You will have 2 hours to complete this part of the exam, which is quite a bit of time for that amount of questions.
The domains of this portion break down as follows:
- Domain 1: Functional Anatomy and Biomechanics 38%
- Domain 2: Client Assessment 16%
- Domain 3: Exercise Prescription 11%
- Domain 4: Muscular Fitness 4%
- Domain 5: Cardio Respiratory 4%
- Domain 6: Flexibility 3%
- Domain 7: Business of Personal Training 24%
So this exam breakdown is a bit different from what I’m used to in terms of how the domains are weighted.
I typically expect the domains with the most focus to be the ones that have to do with direct client interaction, such as programming and assessment related domains.
Here we see more emphasis placed on scientific principles like anatomy and less on the practical aspects.
Perhaps the practical portion of the exam is where all that changes.
It was also quite interesting to see how much of an emphasis is placed on the business aspect of personal training.
In my opinion, this is a welcome change from what I’m used to.
I’m a major proponent for developing your business acumen in the fitness industry, and it’s an area I feel is often underemphasized.
The practical exam is conducted at authorized fitness centers. This part of the exam is 30 minutes long and consists of one scenario and four main sections.
The practical portion breaks down as follows:
- Part I: Assessments 21%
- Part 2: Warm Up 8%
- Part 3: Flexibility 39%
- Part 4: Upper & Lower Body Exercises 32%
From this layout, you can tell that it’s pretty much just the basic components of a regular workout.
In order to really ace this section, I’d say a good understanding and some experience in coaching clients is needed.
This is probably something taught in the lectures, although no information I could find specifies that.
I’m also not sure why flexibility has such a heavy focus. I would have thought it would be the least emphasized out of the four parts.
Your success in the exam depends on your ability to pass both sections of the test. If you fail one, you will have failed overall.
However, if you fail one section, you will only need to retake that single section, but I’ll get into the retake policy later.
The overall passing grade is as vague as it gets.
According to the candidate handbook, whether you fail or pass is decided by a jury of sorts.
Each question is given an arbitrary difficulty rating and whether you pass or fail depends on how hard the exam is considered vs. how well you are seen to have done; at least, this is my interpretation.
After hunting around, I did come across reports of a 70% passing grade, but this, of course, is based on unofficial sources.
I usually like to use pass rate data as a way of evaluating the difficulty of an exam.
That information was, however, unavailable to me with regards to WITS.
In light of this, I managed to scour the internet and gather some anecdotal accounts of how difficult the exam was.
It seems like it’s actually fairly challenging and requires quite a bit of preparation and focus.
At the same time, most of the reviews and accounts I came across were from people who passed the exam in their first attempt.
That tells me that while the exam was indeed a challenge, it was also not much of an overall barrier.
Knowing the difficulty of an exam can give you a decent advantage when preparing for the exam.
In the case of WITS CPT, I suggest you study as hard as possible, focusing on the key domain of the written portion.
The practical side seems to be the easier one since it’s more of a demonstration than a question and answer situation.
The WITS CPT exam is not easy, so failure is a present danger, and when this happens, you will, fortunately, have the opportunity to retake the exam.
Retakes are common practice with certification exams, and WITS is no different.
After your first failed attempt, you will need to wait 30 days before you can retake the paper.
You are allowed a maximum of 2 retakes every year, with each costing $75.
As mentioned, you will only need to retake the section of the exam that you failed. If you failed both sections, then you will need to redo the entire paper.
Expected Study Time
Expected study time all boils down to the enrolment period.
This is the amount of time you are allowed from initial registration or sign up to the final exam deadline.
Since WITS is a classroom lecture-based experience, the enrollment period is slightly shorter than what you’d normally get from a cert program.
Having a more hands-on approach leads to quicker and more sustained retention of knowledge and skills than a self-study scenario.
Each week consists of 7 hours of scientific principles and practical skills development.
The practical skills segment will learn all the assessment and instructional concepts you will need to demonstrate in the practical exam.
The textbook used by lecturers is the Fitness Professional’s Handbook, which is available on the WITS site store.
Again, this book is not mentioned as recommended reading, but it seems you would need it.
With all that covered, you should be exam ready in just six weeks.
Entering any career field is always done with the prospect of earning a living.
When people decide what college degrees they want to study, what they can earn is often the first or at least one of the first considerations.
As an aspiring personal trainer, it’s important for you to consider this too.
Professional fitness is a growing market with numerous opportunities, and with that comes the potential for a big payout.
At the same time, it also presents a ton of competition since it is such a saturated market.
As a personal trainer in the US, you can expect an average income of $61,713 each year.
This is an average reading, of course, and many factors come into play that will influence your overall earning outcomes.
- Recognition of your credentials
- Other credentials
- Years of experience
Your income also depends on how you differentiate yourself as well as your marketing and sales acumen.
That’s why I strongly advise people who get into fitness to support their trainer credentials with something in business or marketing.
Primary Focus Of Certification
When it comes to health and fitness, the core fundamentals of human health and exercise science are universal and cannot be challenged.
But these fundamentals have different aspects, and it is often the case that a certifying agency will pick and choose aspects to focus on as sort of their theme.
This focus may be a pillar of fitness, a population group, or a proprietary training methodology.
In the case of the WITS, the primary focus of fitness certification has less to do with fitness as a science and more to do with fitness as a business.
As I mentioned earlier, this is quite a refreshing take. I believe there is a pressing need to equip trainers with the skills to run a business just as much as they need to know how to run a training session.
Most health and fitness certifications have a period of validity, after which you will need to renew the certification.
This is typically done through the submission of CEUs or continuing education units.
These time-based credits show that you have maintained your skills and knowledge by engaging in academic activities through your time as an active fitness professional.
The WITS CPT cert is valid for two years, after which you will need to renew it with 20 hours of CEUs.
Certification Take Away
So there you have it, folks, a look into one of the more obscure but still relevant and legitimate certifications, the WITS CPT.
I love their approach to business and entrepreneurship, which is something I always try to push.
I am, however, concerned about the confused state of the website and the information presented therein.
From the anecdotal account, I gathered, the exam and certification seem to be decent experiences.
I’ll give this one a 3.25/5.
It is an NCCA accredited cert, but there are many better options as far as that’s concerned.
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