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.

What is on the Exam?

The CPT exam is a multiple choice exam test consisting of 120 questions. The test is taken on-site and there are over 600 testing sites in the Unites States and some international testing sites as well. There will be questions covering physiology, anatomy, injury prevention, rehabilitation, nutrition, as well as other topics on the test. NASM has several pre-exam study guides, courses, and options available.

How to Prepare for the Exam

The NASM CPT program includes a variety of ways to help you learn and prepare for the test, including textbooks, exercise library, online presentations and an online practice exam. There are optional additional study materials for a different price such as live workshops and various exam preparation materials.

Quick Look: CPT certification packages offered by NASM

NASM offers 4 different packages to choose from in signing up for their CPT exam. Here’s a brief overview of each:

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 Pro – $699

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

CPT Premier – $799

Gives you access to take the exam, including access to a live training workshop, online study resources and the textbook. Recommended if you’re mostly a hands-on learner.

CPT Platinum – $999

Gives you access to take the exam, in addition to offering a 90-day job guarantee, a free re-test, live workshop, online study resources and the textbook. Recommended if you’re ready to start working immediately and want the assurance that you will become certified with employment lined-up.

What To Expect On Test Day

To take the exam you must be 18 years of age, must have a current CPR and AED certification and your exam enrollment must be paid in full.

You are eligible to schedule your exam within three business days after enrolling at NASM.

You will need to bring your certificates and a valid photo ID to sign-in at the test center where you registered to take the exam. If you pass the exam you will be able to print a temporary certificate from your member page after 3 to 5 business days have passed and your official certificate will be mailed out within four weeks of passing the exam.

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!