Are you considering attending an IDEA event, Teresa? Because most of the CEC providers at events like IDEA World give CECs for both AFAA and ACE. Caveat: the last IDEA convention I attended was IDEA World 2012, so my info might be out of date. So if you’re just worried about CECs, you’ll probably be fine, except for that pesky AFAA requirement that you must take at least one course direct from AFAA.
ACE, NASM and PTA Global all have advanced courses that you can access with an ACE certification that aren’t available if you have AFAA.
I have an AFAA group ex certification, and will likely keep it for now (I’ve been teaching classes for over 20 years). However, I do agree (and if I had to choose all over again), that ACE has a quality certification. I have ACE for personal trainer and health coach certs. In addition to the quality of their programs, the ease of renewing my certs together is a plus.
ACE is highly regarded, and their workshops and continuing education are superior. That’s just my plug for ACE, but good luck whatever route you take!
I’ve held NDEITA, AFAA, two levels of YMCA certifications, and two in-house corporate certifications for group-ex. When I got my certification as a personal trainer with ACE, I let the group-ex lapse.
I left my AFAA group-ex certification because of their renewal requirements to take another AFAA course, and they rarely come to our area.
I have the textbooks for ACE, AFAA and ACSM group-ex. ACE and ACSM are both quite thorough. I’ve held enough group-ex certifications that I don’t feel the need to pay for another group-ex test, but if I were to take another group-ex certification, it would likely be ACE so I could save $ in renewal.
While I agree with Martin that the ultimate quality of the instructor is not the certification but the effort and attention that one puts into learning, absorbing, and implementing exercise education, sometimes the certificate itself opens doors. In my area, ACE is more highly regarded than AFAA. ACSM is well known (as is NASM) for personal training, but not as many people even realize that ACSM has a group-ex certification again.