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Updated September 20th, 2016
Certified Personal Trainer, CPT
The NASM-CPT is the most widely chosen certification among fitness professionals, making it the most widely accepted in the industry. As a future personal trainer it is important to align yourself with the most reputable certification and we believe that NASM is just that which is why we are giving you an objective way to learn about NASM reviews.
The way that you receive your CPT credential is by passing the NASM CPT Exam. This is done by learning the information from the NASM CPT Textbook that is most relevant to succeeding as a personal trainer. NASM will attempt to provide you with expensive education packages ranging from $300 – $1500 dollars (on top of the $500 test), but most people agree that their education is confusing, which is probably why the pass rate is at a low 60%.
The best and least expensive way to pass their exam and learn the information you need to be successful, is by purchasing the exam and textbook separately and relying on education that focuses on the test specific material. We highly recommend the Audio Lectures, Practice Tests and Study Guide package (only $199) from Fitness Mentors.
They go into specific detail regarding what makes it onto the test so you can better prepare yourself for what to expect. They also add the real world experiences and examples that teach you how to use the material to train your clients more effectively. Whichever way you chose to learn, NASM should be your top choice as it is accepted at almost any training facility.
Extra Credentials are like super setting your favorite two body parts, it pumps you up! (insert Arnold voice). When you are already a NASM Certified Trainer, I highly recommend focusing your continuing education on sales or sticking with their other certifications, as they transfer to equal the amount of CEU’s you need to recertify (1.9 CEU’s + 0.1 CEU for CPR). When choosing your additional certs, think purpose. What credential is going to make you more valuable to the type of clientele you want to attract? Below is an honest breakdown:
Corrective Exercise Specialist, CES: People with Pain AKA almost everyone. The CES certification is far and away NASM’s best cert, as you will learn extremely applicable information. It forces you to understand origins of pain and how to fix it. My biggest concern with my training was learning how to always progress in strength, athleticism and body image, while avoiding any training associated injury. Here’s the truth, if you don’t have perfect flexibility and muscle balance, you are on your way to finding injury. In the CES materials you learn about all the mobility issues that can lead to these injuries. Beyond this, the value you can build knowing and understanding your clients’ pain is immense. Imagine you look at the most basic movement patterns of someone in their everyday life and are able to tell them about how their overactive Pec Major is giving them that shoulder pain they have been dealing with for months. They are blown away. Another great thing about this cert is that the test you have to pass, which is NASM’s hardest by far, makes sure you have completed your studies and understand these difficult topics. All of this combined makes the Corrective Exercise Specialist Certification a true educational experience that is held to the highest standard.
Fitness Nutrition Specialist, FNS: People who want a trainer that will be able to explain more than how much brotein is in their brotein shake. AKA everyone. With a huge mess of information out there on nutrition, it is extremely important to be able to differentiate the good from the bad. When put simply we can say things like, avoid processed food; eat whole foods; avoid Trans fats, but we need to understand why these things are important. The Fitness Nutrition Specialist by NASM takes a detailed college level textbook and goes to town on understanding everything you need to know about PRO, CHO and FAT, as well as all of the vitamins and minerals, what they do and where to get them. Although there is no definitive way to eat (some may argue otherwise), being able to analyze the true nutritional content of what you are eating and understand why you are eating it, the knowledge gained through the Fitness Nutrition Specialist Certification will help you to boost your own and your clients’ fitness goals.
Performance Enhancement Specialist, PES: People looking to perform better at a recreational sport (get real, you’re not gonna train the Kobe or Lebron), or youth athletes. AKA not many. Unless you are planning on focusing your fitness career in sports specific training or you are a competitive athlete yourself, the Performance Enhancement Specialist may be of little use. The market for sports training is not a large one, and typically caters to high school and college aged clientele, which usually don’t have room in their budget for private training. It’s not to frequent that business men come to personal trainers looking to become a better running back or shortstop. In review of what you are learning there are great things about the PES. Through the assessments chapter you are introduced to some great sports specific assessments that can expand your repertoire when considering performance as a goal. Also they have a great Olympic xenical lowest price Lifting chapter that is essential to understand for improving explosiveness and power in sports that have those needs. Same goes for the plyometric chapter. If you like understanding concepts behind why these types of training will benefit athleticism, then the science based information throughout the book will be a great resource. Overall the PES is great, but remember it has a very specific and small market. Certifications to explore that will benefit your sports based training knowledge would be the USA-Weightlifting’s (USAW) Sports Performance Coach and National Strength and Conditioning Association’s (NSCA) Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. These certifications are very focused on the college and pro level setting and it would not be easy to carry out their training programs in your typical commercial gym.
Weight Loss Specialist, WLS: NASM’s attempt to teach you the same stuff you already know and charge you for it; it does sound pretty badass though; AKA Fat People or 70% of the Population. Where is the Jacked and Tan Specialist? I may sound a little harsh towards this certification, only because they beat the law of thermodynamics to death (calories in vs calories out). When will NASM jump off the government recommended nutrition band wagon and realized there is more to altering body composition; ie. Hormonal Optimization, Macronutrient Ratios, and eating low inflammatory profile foods to name a few. Unfortunately they don’t discuss any alternative methods to weight loss, and just repeat what you already know, to slightly more detail. I do have to say that having this title will make you sound great, but recognize your investment in furthering your education provides little return.
Mixed Martial Arts Specialist, MMAS: A way to manage a group exercise program that tries to do MMA moves, but mainly just makes people look like they are convulsing. But it does make you sexy to clients that want to train like fighters even though you have no clue what that really means, unless you have a previous martial arts or boxing background. AKA Is this your target audience? Then get it. Similar to the Weight loss Specialist, if you expect to get great insight into how to train someone like MMA fighters you are understandably mislead. Mixed Martial Artists are athletes and you are better off applying the PES principles to understand and program toward the demand of the sport, rather than take them through circuit training with added kicks, knees and elbows. I really only see this as a clever way to capitalize on the recent MMA influenced fitness training boom. Once again the education is lacking, so the title is all you’re really paying for.
Group Personal Training Specialist, GPT: Really? AKA you don’t need this as you already know how to do it. Did you know that no gyms require you to have this to train their group exercise classes? I can only see this benefiting you in a few ways; one of them being that you’re starting a boot camp or private group class and want to bring attention to the fact that you are qualified, and the other being that you really suck at training groups and you need more insight, which is unlikely. If you fall into one of these categories I guess you could try it?
Women’s Fitness Specialist, WFS: Women? Are they that much different that they need their own cert? Is this your Target Market? AKA 51% of the population. If you’re a female I’m pretty sure you know what’s going on. If you’re a male, you’re just creepy. Sounds ok but you decide. I will be waiting for the Men’s Fitness Specialist to arrive. Any day now…
Youth Exercise Specialist, YES: Teach them how to play and perform speed, agility and quickness drills. AKA you don’t need this unless you directly work with kids in Beverly Hills and need to convince their Type A moms that you are certified to work with little Joey. The special considerations for youth can be found in chapter 16 in the NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training Textbook. The additional information in this cert does not add to much benefit beyond what the basic standards are for youth training.
Senior Fitness Specialist, SFS: Refer to CES. AKA get the CES. Great title if this is your main focus for your business. Besides that your money is better spent on learning ways to address musculoskeletal pain.
Golf Fitness Specialist, GFS: Plan on training Tiger? Do you already kick ass at golf? Is this your Target Market? AKA Not many golfers realize they suck because they have zero thoracic mobility. And that’s how many would train with you. I love golf. If you love golf this does provide some great baseline knowledge for you to build upon in the real world, but check out the Titleist Performance Institute if you are serious about getting to golf training.
Highly Recommended: CES, FNS, PES
Honorable Mention: MMAS, WLS just because they make you seem like a bad ass.
Your next steps for NASM certification:
Eddie Lester BS, NASM-CPT, CES, PES, FNS, WLS, MMAS, GFS, YES, SFS