The ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist is one of the best corrective exercise certifications on the market. Whether you want to learn more about corrective exercise, add continuing education units to help you renew your personal training certification, or reach more specialized clients, this is one of my top picks. 

The ISSA remains one of the top fitness certification providers in the world, but they are mostly known for their personal trainer certification. 

But ISSA also offers other courses as well such as the Corrective Exercise Specialist. This specialization teaches you how to correct mobility and movement dysfunction in your clientele.

In this article, we’ll discuss the following details:

  • Content in the Corrective Exercise Specialist
  • ISSA certification cost and value
  • Quality of the study materials
  • Passing the final exam

After reading this article, you will know if the ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist is the right program for your career.

Still deciding personal training certification to go with? Take our helpful quiz, to determine which certification makes the most sense for your career.

ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist Quick Breakdown

9
ISSA Correctives Exercise Specialist Information
  • Exam cost: $639.24 (purchased with study materials)
  • Study material cost: $53.27/month for 12 months
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Exam passing score: 90/125 Scored Questions, Scaled 550/800
  • Exam pass rate: 70%
  • Average completion time: 1-3 months
Pros
  • Solid exercise science principles
  • Effective online resources
  • Great CEU opportunity
Cons
  • Videos aren’t as polished as NASM CES
9
Our Score
Exercise Science Foundations10
Behavioral Coaching9
Client Health Screening10
Movement Screening10
Resistance Training10
Special Population Training7
Aerobic Fitness Training7

ISSA Organization and Corrective Exercise Certification Overview

The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) was formed in 1988 with the mission of increasing the health and fitness of people around the world through giving fitness professionals the tools to succeed in their careers.

ISSA often includes business skills in their certifications, unlike many of the other certification providers out there. 

We also like how everything you need for your ISSA certification is available online. ISSA was the first provider to offer a fully online ISSA personal training certification program, and they make the process easy, from their online learning platform, to getting your CPR/AED credential all the way to taking your certification exam.

ISSA also includes some great deals when it comes to bundling certifications together. 

We at Trainer Academy think that combining extra skills alongside your personal training certification gives an extra edge when compared to other fitness professionals. By knowing about nutrition, or corrective exercise you can work with different types of clients and carve out a niche in the fitness industry, 

Often, purchasing multiple programs at once gets expensive, but ISSA does offer a two-in-on for their CPT and Nutritionist certification.

There’s also a bundle of three with the Elite Trainer Package. You could add in corrective exercise and get a further discount. ISSA offers other courses you can bundle in like their Group Exercise Certification as well or their Strength and Conditioning Certification, which is good if you want to train athletes. 

Check the website just in case, because if this deal is still in effect, you might want to jump on it before it ends. 

Is the ISSA corrective exercise certification legit?

ISSA is one of the biggest names in fitness. Their personal training certification is well respected, especially the NCCA-accredited version. NCCA-accredited certifications often garner higher levels of credibility and the NCCA is the gold standard when it comes to fitness accreditation. 

In 2023 ISSA was ranked on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in America. They’ve certified over half a million trainers in 174 countries. ISSA is certainly legit and has garnered a lot of credibility over the years.

ISSA remains one of the most popular certification providers, alongside the likes of NASM and others such as NCSF and ACE. 

How much does the ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist certification cost?

The ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialization course costs $639.24, which you can pay for in 12 installments of $53.27.

This price puts ISSA about $80 cheaper than NASM’s CES if you include the current NASM discount. If you go by the base NASM price, ISSA is more than $200 less expensive than NASM. 

We always recommend you check the current price of your fitness certification, because even the cheapest training certifications can swap prices at any given moment depending on the time of year and whatever specials the organizations offer. 

Is the ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist worth it?

The ISSA CES is worth it for any personal trainer who wants to learn more about corrective exercise. We wouldn’t recommend getting ISSA’s Corrective Exercise Specialist without first being a certified personal trainer, because Trainer Academy feels that you need a solid base before moving on to a specialization like this.

However, the ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist will pair well alongside any of the top quality personal training certifications. So if you’re certified through NASM or NSCA or ACE, you don’t need to then get the ISSA CPT before you go for the ISSA CES. 

As a personal trainer, most of your clients are going to have mobility issues and restrictions, so becoming a corrective exercise specialist puts you in the advantageous position of being able to recognize these symptoms and fix them.

When you coach someone who’s had a previous injury, you can help fix any imbalances or compensations they’ve developed. You need to remember to stay within your scope of practice. You’re not a physical therapist, but within the scope of a corrective exercise specialist, you can still do a lot. 

Quality of Study Materials

The ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist comes with the textbook, an online study guide and workbook, the final exam and a free retake if you need it, ISSA’s online exercise lab, student forum, practice exam and section quizzes, a free professional website, and online support. 

The lectures are available in audio format, which is useful if you want to listen in the car. 

The guided study program gives you videos to help synthesize the material and show visual examples. When compared to other Corrective Exercise Specializations, we prefer the look of NASM’s videos over ISSA, but the content you learn remains top-quality. 

The Textbook

The ISSA textbook is written by Chad Waterbury, who is a renowned Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program from the University of Southern California. He’s worked as a performance trainer for Athletes in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, UFC, and Olympics. 

We’ve reviewed most of the Corrective Exercise specialization textbooks out there and the ISSA CES is among our favorites. It balances quality content while still remaining readable. 

Introduction

Section One: Corrective Exercise Science

Section 1 of the ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist goes over the fundamentals of how the body works. This serves as a foundation for your understanding of what to do when things go wrong. 

You’ll learn skeletal function, cartilage and ligament function, and what joints do. ISSA covers muscle attachments, roles of muscle, how force-couples work, fascia lines and includes charts showing insertion and origin for all muscles. This last point is essential information for corrective exercise because in order to correct movement dysfunction, you have to know how the muscles work together.

ISSA details functions of the nervous system and its components, how motor neuron commands work, spinal cord sends signals, and neuroplasticity. 

Then ISSA gives you a chapter on anatomical positions and planes of movement, how joint actions move through these planes. In order to do a proper movement analysis you need to know which plane the exercise occurs in, so this information becomes essential once you start working in the field. 

Finally, ISSA goes over how balance works, motor learning and motor control.

Section Two: Corrective Exercise Practice

In Section 2 of the ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist, ISSA teaches you how to take all the science and apply it in a coaching context. 

This begins with determining if corrective exercise is appropriate, and proper goal setting. You get the ever familiar client questionnaire sheets and the PAR-Q. You’ll recognize this from your personal training certification, but you’ll still need to apply this as a corrective exercise specialist. 

One of our favorite chapters is called “Create a Just Right Challenge” and this details motivating clients, giving feedback, and how to use loading/reps/tempo to create the optimal program. One of the challenges as a personal trainer is creating enough of a stimulus that clients keep progressing, but not so much that you overwhelm them.

The ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist also goes into why fewer corrective exercises is better, and how to conduct a movement analysis.

Finally, you get strategies for restoring mobility, alignment, and stability and some soft tissue assessments. 

Final Exam

At the end of each chapter of the guided study program you take a quiz to see your comprehension of the material. After you finish all the chapter quizzes, you can immediately take the online final exam.

Unlike the NCCA-accredited ISSA CPT test, the Corrective Exercise Specialist is an open-book non-proctored exam. You can refer to your notes as needed.

You also get one free retest should you fail the first time taking the test. 

Average Income

According to Glassdoor, Corrective Exercise Specialists can look to earn on average $70,000 in the US. This is similar to the average salary of a personal trainer, which Glassdoor estimates at $78,000. If you are a personal trainer who also specializes in corrective exercise, you can certainly earn more, which is what we recommend.

CEU Requirements

Because the ISSA Corrective Exercise program is a exercise specialist course, you do not have to recertify every 2 years, however, the ISSA CES will give you 20 continuing education units, which can fully recertify you CPT from ISSA. This is slightly better than the NASM CES, which gives you 1.9 CEUs when you need 2.0 for NASM CPT recertification.

Certification Take Away

What we liked:

  • The curriculum is thorough and up-to-date
  • The website is easy to use
  • Inexpensive compared to NASM

What we didn’t like:

  • Videos aren’t as good as NASM

Overall, we give the ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist a 9 out of 10.  If your career goals include working with clients to prevent injury, the ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist is a good option for you. 

 By helping individuals optimize their movement mechanics, Corrective Exercise Specialists play a crucial role in preventing injuries, enhancing athletic performance, and promoting overall physical well-being. We know that corrective exercise can take your personal training to the next level, because it allows you to take care of your current clients and work with clients who’ve been injured in the past and want to stay healthy. 

You must remember that as a corrective exercise specialist, you are not a physical therapist, but you can still take the principles in the Corrective Exercise Specialist and use them to great effect in your coaching. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What does a Corrective Exercise Specialist do?

A Corrective Exercise Specialist is a highly trained professional who specializes in identifying and addressing musculoskeletal imbalances and movement dysfunctions in individuals. They work closely with clients to assess their posture, movement patterns, and muscle imbalances, using various assessment techniques and tools. Based on their findings, they develop personalized exercise programs that focus on correcting these imbalances and improving overall movement quality. These programs typically include a combination of stretching, strengthening, and mobility exercises, as well as recommendations for lifestyle modifications to support long-term improvements.

How long does it take to complete the ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist certification?

The ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist certification typically takes around 6-8 weeks to complete. This comprehensive program is designed to provide aspiring specialists with the knowledge and skills necessary to assess and correct movement dysfunctions in clients. The certification process involves a combination of online coursework, practical exercises, and a final exam.

How do I prepare for the ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist exam?

To prepare for the ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist exam, it is important to follow a structured study plan. Start by thoroughly reviewing the ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist textbook, which covers key concepts and principles related to corrective exercise techniques. Additionally, make use of online resources such as practice quizzes and interactive modules provided by the ISSA. Engaging in hands-on practice with clients who have specific movement dysfunctions can greatly enhance your understanding and application of corrective exercises. Finally, consider joining study groups or seeking guidance from experienced professionals in the field to gain valuable insights and tips for success on the exam. 

References

  1. Salary: Corrective Exercise Specialist (November, 2022) | glassdoor. Glassdoor. (n.d.). https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/corrective-exercise-specialist-salary-SRCH_KO0,30.htm
  2. Salary: Personal Trainer (November, 2022) | glassdoor. Glassdoor. (n.d.). https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/personal-trainer-salary-SRCH_KO0,16.htm

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