I AM A CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER! And I am so proud of this accomplishment. Though I’ve always been a fitness enthusiast and have thought about getting my personal training license, I never thought I would pull the trigger and actually do it.
While researching the astronomical number of personal training courses to choose from, I was very overwhelmed and did not know which were actually credible. Obviously price was a huge factor in the course I chose, but most importantly, I wanted to choose a program that would give me credibility and provide me with the best information possible to excel as a personal trainer. I felt like there weren’t any great resources comparing different programs, so I thought it might be helpful to write an honest review of my experience with and thoughts of the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s Certified Personal Training Course.
NASM is one of the more decently priced options. They have a ton of “packages” to choose from ranging from $600 all the way up to $1,500. I strongly believe it’s not necessary to purchase anything other than the most basic one, which is the self-study package. My bachelor degrees have nothing to do with exercise science, or the human body whatsoever, and I had no problems learning the content. By purchasing the self-study package, I had access to the online version of the textbook, chapter reviews, videos, and quiz for each module. I also purchased a physical copy of the textbook for $50, which was well worth it because computers can be distracting when trying to read.
I can’t speak for the other packages; maybe they are great and offer you additional information to help you in your profession, but I easily got everything I needed to pass the exam with flying colors from the self-study package. The exam fee is included in the cost of the package, but if you fail, you have to pay a $199 retesting fee. If that’s not study motivation I don’t know what is.
After purchasing the package, you have 6 months to take the exam. I liked the time constraint because it makes you actually discipline yourself to study. I designed a concrete schedule and planned out exactly what content I was studying each week to keep me on pace. Realistically, I think I could have passed the exam after 2 months, but I waited an additional 3 months to really pound the information into my head. This isn’t like college classes where you simply memorize material to pass exams and forget all of it the next day. I wanted to absorb every ounce of information I possibly could because I want to be the best personal trainer I can possibly be.
My process for learning the material was I first read the entire textbook chapter by chapter, watched the chapter video, and completed the module quiz. I also handmade flashcards for each vocabulary word which was a giant waste of time in my opinion. I finished going through all the material in the first 2 months, and then slowly digested each chapter one more time, this time taking notes of things that I thought would be helpful for me to review a third time. I basically made a giant 18-page document of all the concepts that I wanted to review before the exam.
I was extremely prepared for the exam and I thought it was really easy—too easy, honestly. Anyone can pass a damn multiple choice exam. I feel like it should have been more hands-on to make sure you can physically do exercises and stretches correctly and give instructions on how to do them. It was a 120-question, closed-book, all multiple choice exam that was taken on a computer. There are proctor sites all over the place, I didn’t even have to travel out of my city. The best part is you find out your results right then and there! The most helpful things to ensure you pass the exam is to take all the quizzes and practice exams they offer. They emphasis the most important concepts and there are even repeat questions on the exam. Make sure you know what sort of movement each of the muscles make and you’ll be good to go!
NASM takes away your online access to the materials just days after you pass your exam. It would be helpful in my future work to be able to refer to the content that I learned, so I recommend to save and/or print any material you want access to.
Lastly, NASM tries to act like they are going to be there for you with any questions and are super friendly when you’re purchasing the package, but aren’t too polite after the fact. I had to contact my advisor a couple times during the course and the way she talked to me made me feel like I was inconveniencing her. I had emailed my advisor after passing my exam to ask her how to update my address because I didn’t want my certificate to be mail to the wrong place and she sent me back a phone number and that’s it. No congratulations on passing your exam, no hello or thank you, just a phone number to call to change my address. Customer service wise, they did not impress me.
In conclusion, I am happy with what I’ve learned from the NASM CPT course. I now have an educational background to backup my passion for fitness and for that, I am very happy. I feel confident in my abilities to assess current fitness levels of clients, prescribe stretches to fix muscle imbalances, and design exercise programs. I do feel like I would still be quite scared to take on a client who has some sort of chronic disease because there are a lot of precautions that need to be taken when working with certain populations, but I know my confidence will grow with time. I am going to shadow a personal trainer for a while at the gym I go to in order to get that hands-on experience and see personal training in real time instead of reading about it. Like most things, I think on-the-job training will be the most helpful in becoming a great personal trainer.
To maintain your certification, you must complete continuing education courses every 2 years. NASM has a lot of interesting courses that I see myself taking the future, it just sounds expensive. We are talking about human bodies though so investing in knowledge is so important.
I know that this certification from NASM is credible in the world of fitness and I do not doubt that if I seek a personal training position at a local gym, I wouldn’t have a problem finding one. At this point though, I want to focus on creating my own business whether that be online or at home. I already have a lot of people coming to me for help so I am going to explore this avenue and take it from there. My passion is to help others discover a healthy lifestyle that they love and that is exactly what I intend to do!
If you have any questions about the exam, content, or anything NASM related, I would be happy to answer them. Get in touch with me via email firstname.lastname@example.org.