Review of NASM and the NASM-CPT Certification

Corrective exercise specialist

Founded in 1987, the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) is one of the foremost fitness organizations providing research-based credentials to professionals in the exercise and sports training industry.

Alongside its Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) certification, which is accredited by the NCCA, NASM additionally presents dynamic career path opportunities with advanced credentials in corrective exercise, performance enhancement and sport-specific conditioning, as well as continuing education courses in various health and fitness niches.

NASM has also formed affiliations with several universities, including East Strousburg University, California University of Pennsylvania and UC San Diego, in offering certificate and degree programs that integrate coursework designed by the organization.

Organization Background

NASM’s emphasis on continuing and advanced education serves to assist today’s health and fitness experts in enriching their careers while better enabling their clients to lead more healthy lifestyles. The institution has established its brand as being synonymous with high quality evidence-based teaching that prioritizes proficiency, advancement, and outcomes.

Impact on the Fitness Industry

Centered predominantly on athlete performance and functional training, in 1989, NASM launched its personal trainer (NASM-CPT) program. Within a couple years, this certification emerged as a standard in various fitness centers, largely due to World Gym making the NASM-CPT qualification mandatory for every one of their personal trainers. By the late 90’s, this certification had also become a necessary criteria for trainers to work at all 24-Hour Fitness facilities.

Over the last decade, NASM has expanded within the sports medicine field through extensive functional and corrective exercise research carried out to pinpoint muscular imbalances that cause discomfort, pain and subsequent injury. The introduction of their Optimum Performance Training (OPT) system has been an industry first as a complete training model designed to provide complete balance of muscular strength, power and size and cardiorespiratory endurance.

Founder: Michael Clark, DPT

OPT was actually created by the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s founder and CEO Micheal Clark, who holds a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from Rocky Mountain University. He has trained and treated numerous elite amateur, Olympic and pro athletes in wide range of sports such as football, basketball, baseball, boxing and ice skating.

As a distinguished member of both the fitness and sports medicine communities, Clark has been highly effective in applying his knowledge and experience towards development of the tremendously practical OPT system. This cutting-edge model now serves as the foundation for NASM’s personal trainer (CPT) and performance enhancement specialist (PES) certification programs.

Clark’s organization has made considerable ground in the professional sports market; for example, over 90% of athletic trainers in the NBA have become NASM-certified Corrective Exercise or Performance Enhancement Specialists.

Notable Accreditations

In 2008, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) accredited NASM’s CPT program as a way for registered dietitians and dietitian technicians to acquire continuing education credits required for recertification. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and UK-based Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) have also granted accreditation to the NASM certified personal trainer curriculum.

NASM CPT Certification Details

Some employers prefer their trainers to be NASM-certified, while others may prefer a different organization – so make sure to keep this in mind when researching gyms or facilities you’d like to work at prior to becoming certified. Being NASM-certified grants you access to the OPT (Optimum Performance Training) system – the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s own set of cutting edge personal training principles/methods based on the latest clinical research in exercise science and sports medicine.

They also offer exclusive business opportunities to their CPTs and access to their research institute’s growing knowledge database.

To read up on all the in’s and out’s of this 120-question multiple choice exam, make sure to check out the official NASM Certification Candidate Handbook (PDF).

Study Options

The NASM CPT program provides a broad selection of packages to accommodate people of different backgrounds and learning styles. Currently, there are 6 different options to choose from:

CPT Exam Only – $599

Gives you access to take the NASM-CPT exam only. Recommended if you already have NASM’s study materials and good at self-preparation.

CPT Self-Study – $699

Gives you access to take the exam and includes online study resources in addition to their textbook. Recommended if you do not have any study materials and a good self-learner.

CPT Self-Study w/ Live Workshop – $849

Gives you access to take the exam, including admittance to a live training workshop, textbook, online preparation resources – as well as practice exams and several additional study modules/materials. Recommended if you would like to better gauge your preparedness and add a hands-on learning component to help reinforce your knowledge.

CPT Online Classroom – $999

Includes all the features of the CPT Self-Study w/ Live Workshop as described above, however, instead of the Live Workshop you are enrolled in the CPT eTeach program. This program is a nine-week online course that includes video lectures, discussions, scheduled quizzes and exams much like an online college course. If you require the teaching structure, feedback and knowledge checkpoints that only a formal course can provide, then you may want to strongly consider this option.

CPT All Access – $1,299

Provides all the features of the CPT Online Classroom, in addition to the Live Workshop, 60-day job guarantee (or you get your money back), and free re-test if needed. Recommended if you’re ready to start working immediately and want the assurance that you will become certified with employment lined-up.

Taking The Next Step Towards Your Certification…

Taking that extra step to become a certified personal trainer will mean that you’ll set yourself up to make more money than those who aren’t credentialed. Becoming a NASM certified trainer specifically can give you even more of an advantage due to the organization’s widely respected reputation as a leader in the fitness and human performance industry.

Right now the National Academy of Sports Medicine is offering an online course at a low introductory price called “Introduction to Personal Training” or IPT. It was designed for those of you who would like to learn more about personal training before signing up for the actual NASM-CPT exam. The good thing is you’ll be able to apply the full cost of the course towards enrollment in taking the exam. So, it’s basically a free prep course that will not only increase your knowledge needed to become a personal trainer, it will help prepare you for the NASM-CPT exam itself.

Now that you’ve had a chance to review this information, you can go here to sign up for the IPT course and take one step closer to becoming a highly-skilled, in-demand certified personal trainer!