I’ve done reviews or my opinions on a few of the certification bodies (AFAA, NASM,P90X, Les Mills etc) and as I’m always learning and furthering my education I thought today I’d share my thoughts on the Fitour certifications. In 2011 I saw an ad in AFAA Fitness magazine for Fitour certifications and workshops. The workshops count towards AFAA CEU’s but a check on the website showed that there were no workshops near me so I just signed up for the email newsletter (as I generally do for fitness websites) and closed the web browser and called it done.
However a few weeks later I got an email newsletter that they were having a deal that weekend: the certifications will start at $1 and increase for every one sold. I decided if I got the price under $50 I’d snag one and review it. Well I managed to get it for $39.99, so I ordered the bootcamp certification as I don’t have a specific bootcamp certification (even though my AFAA Group Fitness means I can teach bootcamp *wink*). A week later I received the book and DVD in the mail and promptly lost track of it under piles of paperwork, to-do lists and work. That meant it wasn’t until earlier this year when I was clearing out my home office that I “found” the Fitour package again, and luckily it was still valid! I could do the certification as long as I did the exam by September 2012.
One afternoon in July I was sitting at home twiddling my thumbs as one of my Personal Training clients was on vacation and I thought “hey Di, grab that Fitour package!” and so I opened the package and dug in…
The package contained a DVD and a book. The book is two books in one, part is the certification I ordered (bootcamp) and Group Fitness Instructor. The bootcamp part of the book is 116 pages. The book is informative, with lots of information on fitness tests, how to run a bootcamp, forms etc. Then goes into a full breakdown of their version of a bootcamp session with exercises and descriptions.
Now don’t get me wrong they do give a lot of information on the business side of bootcamps, the forms, the paperwork, the tracking, the fit tests, the scheduling, the exercises… however 106 pages in the book were dedicated to this and the “fitour way of running an actual bootcamp session”, which left just 10 pages for anatomy and physiology. What? You give people the exercises with almost zero explanation of WHY they are doing the moves? Now I understand that this was bootcamp certification, and maybe this was covered in the group exercise certification? Well guess what, I have that book! Remember this is a two-fer package, flip it over and you get the Group Exercise certification information 😉
Well that part of the book is only 76 pages. To give you an idea, the AFAA BASIC book is over 500 pages! Did the Fitour cover the basics? Yes the absolute bare bones minimum. However it doesn’t care whether you CAN teach. It tells you about the 32 count beat and timing but none of the test is about you showing that you CAN teach. I’m sorry but I’ve seen instructors that cannot hold a beat let alone be on the timing so this is crucial. An online certification should not entitle you to teach. Period! I hope their live workshops are a little more indepth than this, and actually require some teaching in the examination.
So what did I think of the DVD? Well I know my video’s here on the blog are basic, real time workouts, however something that I PAY MONEY FOR from a supposed “national certification” I expect it to be professional. Let’s just say I was disappointed Usually these certifications are $100+ and NO WAY was this DVD/Book package worth that kind of money! I’m not saying the lady didn’t do a good job, she was pretty professional, but the quality, the camerawork etc just wasn’t professional. I’m sure my crappy camcorder could have done just as good a job! Plus everything in the DVD was in the book, so kinda pointless, unless you’re more of a visual learner.
So what about the exam? Well from the date of buying the certification, you have one year to take the exam online. As my date was September I was good to take the exam. I’d read the book (ok kinda! I didn’t read ALL the book) and I skimmed the DVD so could I take the exam and get the required pass percentage? Well let’s try it!
I had 3 hours to take the exam, 100 questions. Yeah, if you’ve done ANY fitness certification you’ll know how laughable this is! Even my NASM wasn’t 3 hours for 120 questions!!! And that was proctored. But here is a cheap online certification giving me 3 hours to do this certification online, in my own home (in my PJs if I wanted). So, I hit the exam button and off I went. Out of 100 questions I had to look up about 5 questions in the book, I had three hours, I could have looked up EVERY question. I checked the answers because their opinions and protocols were different to other professional bodies, and my hunch was usually right 😉 40 minutes later I hit submit and PASSED! Now remember I read the book through once, barely, and skimmed the DVD… THAT AFTERNOON!
So pros and cons
- online: I get it, this is the major selling point. However AFAA now does online certification. But you have to do the practical component via video chat. The fact that there is no video TEACHING element to this makes it null and void IMO.
- Quick. Thin book, hour long DVD and “3 hour” exam. I took 40 minutes on the exam and passed. Even though I only read the book that afternoon. Again I understand I have existing fitness knowledge but it’s ridiculously easy!
- Easy. 100 questions in 3 hours means you could literally look up every one of the 100 questions in the 3 hours to ensure passing! They need to shorten the time. Laughable!
- Poor quality, it’s cheap for a reason! Save the $$ and spent the same $100+ with AFAA on an APEX weekend, group fitness/step/kickboxing certs all $99
- Not worth the paper it’s printed on. You have to print out your own cert! So literally not worth the paper it’s printed on! I did get a certificate mailed to me about 2 months later but it was pathetic.
- Not nationally recognized, regardless of what they say on their website it’s NOT nationally recognized. I know some fitness directors and none thought this was a good cert to have and only kept the instructors because they’d been teaching at the gym prior to them taking the job.
So bottom line, what’s my opinion on Fitour? Skip it! If you want to break into the fitness industry opt for a nationally recognized certification which means one of the BIG names: NASM, ACSM, NSCA. If you are looking at group fitness the top two would be ACE and AFAA. Would getting Fitour cert get your foot in the door? Maybe? However if *I* were the fitness director of that gym, I’d laugh you out the door, no way! Sorry but it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.
The ONLY exclusion to this would be if you are like me and already have the above mentioned national certifications like ACE/AFAA or a PT cert like NASM/ACSM or NSCA. For example: maybe you get a group fitness certification with ACE or AFAA and want to do pilates, then yes maybe go ahead and do a Fitour certification. Again though if *I* were the fitness director I’d want to see you shadowing another fully/properly certified instructor before taking your own classes. See even then with pilates/yoga/cycling etc I’d advise going with AFAA instead. Their workshops on the APEX weekends are only $99 and well worth it for the practical experience and CEU’s! Online certifications are just not as good as taking real life certifications because you need the HANDS ON experience.
So why did *I* take the Fitour certification?
I took the Bootcamp certification for research purposes because a lot of instructors I have heard of around here have the Fitour cycling certification. Most are cyclists that want to teach spin classes. I learned that it’s SUPER EASY to pass the fitour certification .I’d be totally surprised if ANYONE fails, afterall you have three hours to take the exam, you can look up EVERY question in 3 hours! I hate to sound like a certification snob but taking an online test should NOT enable you to teach spin. Someone having NEVER sat on a bike before should not be able to take this test and be able to go into a gym and teach a class. Period! Same with their other certs.
Sometime soon I’ll do a flashback post to my first certifications, my RSA and AFAA.
Well that’s my 2cents for what it’s worth, all personal experience and personal opinion…. I hope it helps someone.
So tell me – do you have a fitour cert? What was your experience like?