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Best Personal Trainer Certification Programs

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Workout equipment is placed on a blue background with the words "Best Personal Trainer Certification Programs" written over top of the image.

NASM, ACE, ISSA, NSCA—if you’re looking to become a CPT, these are names you’ve probably heard before. With so many different options available, and all of them calling themselves the best personal trainer certification, it can be tricky to know which program may be the right one for you.

The truth is, there is no one certification that is better than the rest. Each program has its own unique focus, and it depends on what kind of skills you want to learn as a CPT.

To help you compare your options, Insurance Canopy took a closer look at some of the most popular associations with personal trainer certification programs.

What Is A CPT?

A CPT is a Certified Personal Trainer. These are people who have passed a personal trainer certification exam and are now “certified” by a specific certification to train. Sometimes trainers refer to themselves as a NASM-CPT or ACE-CPT, meaning they received their certification through that specific program.

CPT programs aim to teach an individual the skills they need to know in order to start working as a personal trainer. They also keep trainers educated and up-to-date with the latest research in the health and fitness industry. Some CPT programs are more geared to certain topics and training styles, making them appeal to trainers who may want to specialize in a more niche form of personal training.

Keep reading to see Insurance Canopy’s CPT certification reviews for some of the most popular programs offered today and what they can do best for trainers like you.

A male personal trainer helps his female client learn resistance training with a resistance band.

Best Certification For Resistance Training

Fitness Mentors’ program is recognized as being one of the best certifications for personal trainers looking to specialize in resistance training.

The FORM Model (Form Over Resistance Model) used in the Fitness Mentor curriculum places an emphasis on a client’s form during resistance training. This can help you lower the risk of injuries your clients may sustain while doing resistance training. Your courses will cover a variety of methods, including bands, cables, and free-standing resistance equipment.

Click to read the full Fitness Mentors CPT certification review.

Best Certifications For New Personal Trainers

Insurance Canopy recognizes the International Sports Science Association (ISSA) and the National Federation of Personal Trainers (NFPT) as the best personal trainer certifications for new trainers receiving their certification for the first time.

ISSA’s personal trainer certificate program is packed with highly valuable information for first-time trainers. With unlimited access to a personal Success Coach, online materials, and detailed expansion packs, you have the ability to start their careers strong.

Click to read the full ISSA CPT certification review.

NFPT’s curriculum is geared exclusively to helping new trainers develop a love for fitness while learning the skills they need to succeed. They are a great option for first-time trainers looking to gain a well-rounded knowledge in the basics of personal training.

Click to read the full NFPT CPT certification review.

A male personal trainer is kneeling down on a workout mat as he helps his male client in a lunge position lift weights and improve his performance.

Best Certification For Performance Enhancement

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) is recognized as the best certification program for personal trainers looking to put an emphasis on performance enhancement in their work.

The Optimum Performance Training Model (OPT) is a detailed, scientifically-based fitness training system designed by NASM. Personal trainers will learn what it is and how to use it to help their clients reach their fitness goals.

Click to read the full NASM CPT certification review.

Best Certification For Health Behavioral Change

Insurance Canopy recognizes the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as the best personal trainer certification for fitness and health behavior change education.

Any trainer looking to take their career to the next level can greatly benefit from this certification. It allows you to learn the common roadblocks your clients may face when trying to live a healthier and more active lifestyle. You will learn how to help clients set goals, make healthier choices, and build a foundation for success.

Click to read the full ACE CPT certification review.

Best Certifications For Advanced CECs

Continuing Education Courses (CECs) are an important part of your personal trainer career. In order to maintain your certification status, most programs require you to meet a minimum number of CEC units. A lot of these programs offer their own courses to allow you to keep learning and growing as a trainer. Two of them stood out the most to us as offering the most advanced and specialized CECs.

One of the biggest benefits to enrolling in advanced CECs is it allows you to grow more specialized in your training and what you can offer clients. This sets you apart from other trainers and can even lead to the opportunity to increase your income.

Insurance Canopy recommends the National Aerobics and Fitness Trainers Association (NAFTA) and the National Association for Fitness Certification (NAFC) as the best personal trainer certification programs for fitness professionals looking to expand their knowledge of the training industry.

Click to read the full NAFTA CPT certification review.

NAFC offers a variety of continuing education opportunities, plus PowerCerts to help personal trainers hone in on very niche markets. Their fitness certification includes comprehensive, advanced training programs that help to enhance your ability to train others.

Click to read the full NAFC CPT certification review.

A female personal trainer is helping her female strength training client with her weight training by cautiously watching her hold a bar of weights over her head.

Best Certification For Strength Training & Mass Building

The National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) is recognized as the best certification for personal trainers who want to learn more about strength training and mass building exercises.

Their curriculum offers a variety of resources such as training tips, program design, client assessments, and business advice. You also have the opportunity to join their private professional development group and network with other like minded individuals.

Click to read the full NSCA CPT certification review.

Best Certification For Special Education Training

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is recognized as the best certification program for personal trainers who want to be certified in special education. These speciality certifications help trainers work with clients who have special medical needs—such as cancer, chronic illnesses or diseases, physical sensory disabilities, cognitive disabilities, and autism.

Click to read the full ACSM CPT certification review.

A personal trainer and his clients are all mid-jump as they perform HIIT exercises together outside.

Best Certifications For Group Fitness Instruction

Insurance Canopy recognizes the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) and the National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA) as the best certification programs for group fitness instruction.

If you’re a personal trainer who prefers working with groups rather than individuals, then AFAA’s program is designed for you. In this program you will learn the skills to work with smaller groups, such as private classes, or large groups, like at corporate events or health centers.

Click to read the full AFAA CPT certification review.

NETA provides hands-on instruction and material to help personal trainers learn how to work with groups of clients. Trainers will develop the skills to connect with multiple clients, balance varying needs, and lead a group of individuals successfully toward their fitness goals.

Click to read the full NETA CPT certification review.

“Which Personal Trainer Certification Is Best For Me?”

Every association is different and offers a variety of tools, resources, and learning packages, so it’s important to look around and compare your options. Find a program that meets your learning style, fits your budget, and offers a curriculum you are interested in.

The best personal trainers are certified in their field and further their expertise through a continuing education, networking with other trainers, and protecting their business with liability insurance. The world of fitness is constantly growing and has a need for dedicated trainers like you. Start your career in health and wellness confidently as a certified personal trainer, and get the best coverage tailored to your industry with Insurance Canopy today!

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