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NASM Personal Training Certification Review: Pros & Cons

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

In the world of health and fitness, the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) is known as one of the most elite and premiere choices for certification programs—in particular, the NASM personal training certification program.

NASM’s rigorous educational and testing programs create a community of high quality and highly qualified personal trainers. Let’s take a deeper look at what these programs entail and how you can get certified with NASM.

What is the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)?

NASM is an educational program that teaches and certifies millions of fitness professionals in the industry. Their science-based strategies add a unique value to their programs and certifications.

NASM partners with thousands of fitness clubs around the world to help educate and certify fitness professionals in their respective fields. This helps ensure more trainers are properly certified and offer the best services to their clients.

About NASM Personal Training Certification

One of the most popular certifications NASM offers is exclusively made for personal trainers. This exam qualifies you to begin training with customers or start your own personal training business. They also offer educational courses to help first-time instructors and seasoned professionals prepare for the certification exam.

While you don’t have to go through a NASM personal training certification program to take the exam, they do help you prepare for the exam, refresh your knowledge, keep you up-to-date with the latest requirements, and keep you at the top of your training game.

A man sits on the edge of a workout bench next to kettle weights in a workout room as he works on a laptop to receive his personal trainer certification.


Beyond having a passion for health and fitness, there are some requirements you need to meet before enrolling in the NASM Certified Personal Trainer program.

You must have a…

  • High school diploma (or equivalent)
  • Current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification
  • Current automated external defibrillator (AED) certification


Within each of NASM’s certification programs, you can find different levels of learning. Depending on your needs, the NASM personal training certification costs are as follows:

  • Self-Study: $44/month or $899/year
  • Premium Self-Study: $44/month or $1199/year
  • Guided Study: $57/month or $1599/year
  • All-Inclusive: $144/month or $2699/year

If you are pretty familiar with the curriculum already and just recertifying, you can choose a self-study option. If this is your first time learning the material, it’s recommended you go with one of the guided study options.

You can compare the NASM personal training certification costs for each program type here on their website.

Specialized Certification Programs

NASM understands many trainers specialize in different areas of expertise and need more specific educational courses. A Fitness Specialist Program is an advanced credential program that can supplement your knowledge. NASM offers:

  • Nutrition Certification (CNC)
  • Certified Sports Nutrition Coach (CSNC)
  • Certified Wellness Coach (CWC)
  • Corrective Exercise Specialization (CES)
  • Stretching and Flexibility Coach (SFC)
  • Weight Loss Specialization (WLS)
  • Performance Enhancement Specialization (PES)
  • Home Gym Design Specialization (HGD)
  • Virtual Coaching Specialization (VCS)
  • Behavior Change Specialization (BCS)
  • Group Personal Training Specialization (GPTS)
  • Women’s Fitness Specialization (WFS)
  • Senior Fitness Specialization (SFS)
  • Youth Exercise Specialization (YES)
  • MMA Conditioning Specialization (MMA)
  • Golf Fitness Specialization(GFS)

NASM’s fitness specialization can help you earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for recertification, open the door to new fitness careers, and increase the amount of clients you can work with.

Continuing Education & Recertification

You will need to renew your NASM personal training certification every two years. You also need to have earned 20 contact hours, or 2.0 CEU credits, during those two years. Part of this requirement is completing a mandatory CPR/AED certification.

This helps to ensure you are up-to-date with the most current guidelines, in line with the correct safety tactics, and gaining the skills you need to keep up with other professionals in your industry.

Pros & Cons of NASM

While NASM is a top-rated program, it may not be for everyone. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons NASM has to offer for personal trainers like you.


  • NASM personal trainers earn more annually than some trainers who certify with competitors.
  • Different levels of expertise allow both beginners and experienced trainers to find valuable materials to help them further their profession.
  • Specialized Certification Programs allow trainers to deepen their knowledge.
  • NASM is recognized and accredited by the NCAA.


  • There is a lack of specialized focus on athletic performance training.
  • NASM tends to have more expensive certifications than competitors.
  • Because NASM follows a more rigorous curriculum, they have a lower exam pass rate.
  • The hardcopy book and certification retest option is not included in the lowest pricing model.

It’s important to know what you specifically need out of your certification and that your program meets your needs.

A young woman lays on a yoga mat in her home and is propped up on her elbows as she uses one hand to scroll through the curriculum of her personal trainer certification course.

How NASM Personal Training Certification Benefits You

Insurance Canopy recognizes and recommends NASM as the best certification program for personal trainers who would like to specialize in performance enhancement.

NASM’s Optimum Performance Training Model (OPT) is a detailed, scientifically-based fitness training system. The OPT model is created by and unique to NASM. Personal trainers can use this training system to help their clients more effectively reach their fitness goals.

Overall, the NASM personal training certification is a top-rated, quality program. You can be sure you are getting a comprehensive certification from one of the best in the business. You also feel confident knowing your certification will meet or exceed the certification requirement for most health and fitness centers you choose to work at.

However, even if you are certified with NASM, you may be required to show a Certificate of Insurance. Personal training can lead to a lot of client injuries if you are not careful. Plus, waivers don’t have much of a legal standing and cannot offer any financial support if you were to receive a claim. Not being insured prevents many trainers from getting hired at health and fitness facilities or partnering with private businesses.

With Insurance Canopy, you can receive top-rated personal trainer insurance for a low cost. Our liability coverage can help you pay for claims, insure your gear, and meet most insurance requirements—all for as little as $12.50 a month. Being both certified and insured shows gyms and clients you take yourself seriously as a personal trainer.

Prepare for your career with NASM, and protect your career with Insurance Canopy.

Frequently Asked Questions About NASM Personal Training Certification

The NASM personal training certification cost can range from $44/month or $899/year, up to $144/month or $2699/year.

The NASM certification program can take anywhere from 10–12 weeks to complete. This includes finishing your online courses and preparing for the exam.The program you choose and any CEU’s you add can impact the amount of time the certification takes to complete.

A NASM certification is an educational program to receive knowledge and skills in a chosen field of health and fitness from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. NASM certified fitness instructors are recognized as being trusted, highly educated professionals.

To be NASM certified, you must complete 10–12 weeks of online courses and pass a 120 question exam focusing on topics such as anatomy, physiology, and fitness basics.

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