Why I chose NASM

by Kim on April 15, 2014

Wait, what? Why are we talking about this NASM business again?

I realized I never really told you all why I decided to go with NASM in the first place. And I know it’s a decision that’s on a lot of CPT-hopefuls’ minds, so I thought I’d throw my two cents out there.


Oh, and if you’ve already picked NASM and you’re currently in the Study Zone, I have some potentially good news for you: I just posted the 100-page study guide I created while studying for my own test on my blog as a free download. You can find it right here, in all its graph-filled, color-coded glory (major visual learner here).

Feel free to tell your friends. Or just hoard it for yourself. (Doesn’t hurt to keep the old job market competitive, right?)

Anyway, back to the original decision-making process.

Here were some of the factors that pointed me toward NASM:

It’s well-recognized and respected. This is the most important point. The last thing I wanted was to go through all this work to get a less-than-desirable certification.

It seems like the two big papas in the CPT world are NASM and ACE. Most gyms near me are especially interested in CPTs with either of those certifications, so I narrowed my list down to two pretty quickly.

I liked the emphasis on science. One of the main things I heard from others who’d gone through NASM was that the course with loaded with heavy-duty science. And I liked that. I didn’t want to just know how to pair a squat with a deadlift and call it a workout–I wanted to know why and how exercise works.

I loved learning about the different metabolic systems our bodies use, the specific ways our muscles work with bones and tendons to produce force, and all of the super complex details of nutrition.

Science is power, baby. (Or something.)

I’d heard a lot about it. I can’t say that all the bloggers who did NASM before me (like Julie and Gina) didn’t influence my decision. I was sure they’d done a lot of the same research I was doing, and it was comforting to know that NASM seemed just as well recognized in their parts of the country as in mine.

I got a great deal. Julie’s NASM post included an opportunity for a discount of at least 5% by contacting a certain NASM agent and mentioning her name. So I got in touch with Mike, mentioned Julie, and got the discount.

On top of that, I waited until NASM ran a sale. I signed up during their huge 4th of July weekend sale last year, and got something like $100 off my program. (In addition to Julie’s discount.)

If you’re thinking about pursuing your CPT through NASM, I recommend getting on their mailing list. (The sign up at the bottom of the page.) They’ll keep you in the know about upcoming sales, so you can wait and nab the next one.

I know the courses are pricey, but I get the impression that not a lot of people realize that NASM offers payment plans. I’ve been paying $36 a month for my course (it comes straight out of my account every month, and I barely notice it) and I’m already hitting my last payment next month.

So please don’t hold off on your dreams because you don’t have XYZ hundred dollars in your pocket right this second. Neither did I.

There’s a ton of support out there. First, there’s the support coming from NASM itself–the textbook, workbook, online course content, practice exams, and online exercise library.

There are also great apps for both iPhones and Androids (I liked this one the most) and online flashcards.

Plus, tons of NASM CPTs have blogged about their experiences, sharing valuable insight into the study process and test, and some have even posted poorly edited study guides. (Haha. Shameless plug. And an honest warning–I totally spell-checked it, but it’s also loaded with biology terms Word didn’t recognize, so no promises on the spelling/grammar thing.)

There are plenty of continuing education opportunities. One thing I didn’t really think about while making my initial decision was continuing ed.

NASM (and all CPT programs) requires you to get a certain amount of additional learning credits to maintain your certification. You’re welcome to take courses anywhere, but to get the credit, the courses need to be recognized by NASM. (I searched long and hard for a prenatal fitness program that was OK’d by NASM, and that’s how I ended up with Fit for Birth–more on that later!)

I sort of wish I would have thought about this more during my initial decision-making process. There was at least one prenatal fitness course that was recognized by ACE, but not NASM, that I was bummed to have to pass on. (You can submit courses to NASM for approval, but it’s a process and there’s a fee, etc…)

My advice: think about what you’d like to study next, after your CPT, and make sure there are solid courses available that will count toward your required credits.

So that’s how I found my way to NASM! And in case you were wondering, I’m still very happy with my choice. (But let me tell you: that test was NOT easy.)

Hope this might be helpful to anyone else in the decision-making stage!

Feel free to check out my NASM page for other posts I’ve written about it.

P.S. I haven’t been compensated by NASM in any way. I didn’t receive special discounts or cash of any kind to blog about them. Just wanted to share my experience!

Anyone making the CPT decision right now?

Fellow CPTs: what program did you choose and why?



{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Danie August 25, 2015 at 4:31 pm

I debated NASM and ACE but decided to go with NASM because I felt that it was more respected in the industry and because the material provides more insight for what it’s actually like to be a personal trainer.
NASM rules, thanks for the great input. I just found your site but wanted to share this other really great study guide that was super useful! https://www.fitnessmentors.com/free-nasm-cpt-study-guide/


Kim September 25, 2015 at 3:45 pm

That is awesome, thanks!!


melissa May 14, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Great post–so helpful! I signed up for emails, so I hope they have a sale soon :)
melissa recently posted…1 Week to Beach Ready Workout PlanMy Profile


Kim May 14, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Maybe they’ll have another big one for the 4th of July this year! Good luck!!


Ali April 16, 2014 at 8:07 am

I chose ACE but that was in 2006, so NASM hadn’t really made their push yet. I basically chose ACE for the same reasons that you chose NASM. I’m happy with my decision too.


emma @ be mom strong April 16, 2014 at 4:48 am

I went with ACE but NASM sounds great too! I’m starting to look into recert points and really want to do a prenatal/postnatal class! Let’s find one together!
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Presley @ Run Pretty April 15, 2014 at 7:45 pm

OMG I LOVE YOU. A study guide? All my prayers were just answered. Totally linking to this soon so that everyone everywhere on earth can read it. (And by that, I mean the five people that read my blog. So, like, just in case my mom wants to get her certification…)
Presley @ Run Pretty recently posted…Seriously SlackingMy Profile


Kim April 17, 2014 at 1:26 pm

haha, I hope your mom likes it! :)


Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries April 15, 2014 at 4:53 pm

I went with NASM as well – for all the same reasons! Glad you’re loving it too!
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