There’s really only one reason to get certification, and that’s to get a job. If you really think you’ll retain more than 15% of the info after the exam, then the joke’s on you. Logically speaking, would you hire someone who spent less than a month studying for a career to become your personal trainer? I’m assuming no one is nodding. I’m sure ISSA and a Mike Mentzer certification is interesting stuff, but most gym owners (who actually need pft’s) have never heard of them. And if you have no experience to go with that order (I’m assuming you don’t), then you won’t be receiving many paychecks from that gym. Bottom line: Become certified by a nationally-recognized organization.
Now I know that ACE is the “poor man’s” certification, but it will get you a job. It also helps that this test is easier than that art class you took in jr. high. I’m also positive it is offered in Toronto about 2-3 times/yr.
A more logical choice is the ACSM HFI exam. You will have to study a bit for this one. There’s also a practical. The great thing is that ACSM is highly recognized by the medical community. The term “gold standard” becomes synonomous. That leaves that stepping stone open when you get sick of training fat, arthritic women and gay, middle-aged men (trust me, except for the occasional hot babe, stockbroker and h.s. athlete, these populations will become very familiar to you). Those medical guys will also require a degree and some experience for you to officially break the shackles of the health club.
Which leads me to my next point: If you want to become educated and qualified, get your degree (ie. Exercise Physiology). Only around 30% of pft’s actually have a college degree. If you are one of those, you WILL get a better job($$). People say “Well what about former athletes?”. Surprisingly, many athletes have trouble training people other than themselves. Remember, throughout their careers they were advised mostly by strength coaches, athletic trainers, etc. (and this is the reason I still have a job). Many may become educated and make a good trainer, but many will fail.
Sorry to go off on a tangent, but I hope that will help. Oh yeah, you will never have to retake these exams as long as you read an article or two (CECs) about your career. Good luck.