Why I Chose the NASM Personal Trainer Certification

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

When it comes to personal trainer certifications, there are hundreds of programs to choose from and each one has different levels of specialization, accreditation, and acceptance at various fitness facilities, so how the heck do you know which one to choose?

When I first looked into getting certified, I didn’t know where to start, so I contacted a few friends, who are certified personal trainers, and asked them for their recommendations. Each of them specifically mentioned NASM and said it was one of the most respected certifications in the industry. Two out of three of them were certified through NASM, so I wasn’t too surprised by their endorsement, but since then, plenty of other people have said the same thing about the organization. (NASM is also the perfered certification at a lot of well-known gyms.)

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Personal recommendations from trainers working in the fitness industry were the main reason that I chose NASM over other certifications, but here are some other things that I considered:


NASM’s certified personal trainer program is accredited by NCCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies), which is a division of NOCA (National Organization for Competency Assurance), which has set standards for credentialing organizations for more than three decades. Having this approval by a qualified third party made the certification seem a lot more legit, and I wanted to make sure I had respected credentials, so accreditation was a big selling point for me.


Obviously, personal training is more than lifting weights and counting reps and sets, so I wanted a well-rounded certification that would prepare me for all parts of the personal training process””from knowing and understanding movement science and physiology to performing functional assessments and creating individualized training programs for clients. I wanted a certification that was the whole package.


I also liked that NASM provided a ton of support to their students. Their plethora of educational materials makes it so easy to study for the exam. Just some of the materials available to students: textbook, workbook, online course content (you can download the lessons right onto your iPod), unlimited practice exams, phone support, online exercise library, and live workshops. Additionally, there are iPhone apps and online flashcards that will help you learn the material.

Continuing Education

Finally, I love that NASM offers other certifications and tons of continuing education courses and workshops to keep growing my knowledge in the field. I’m actually considering their Fitness Nutrition Specialist certification in the near-ish future. We’ll see!

I’m still working on a blog post that answers your NASM questions, so keep a look out for it later today or tomorrow. If you have additional questions, be sure to ask them in the comments section of this post!


Good breakfast this morning! I had quinoa oatmeal with chia seeds, dried cranberries, peanut butter and a glass of iced coffee with soy milk. Yum!

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I cooked the quinoa last night and then mixed it with rolled oats, almond milk, and chia seeds and let it all soak overnight. In the morning, I added dried cranberries and peanut butter.

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Question of the Day

Have you ever worked with a personal trainer? How was your experience?



  1. i worked with a PT that came with my gym membership… it was ok. it was at one of those big time gyms (24 hr. fitness i think) and they seem to just want to squeeze in as many people as possible to make money. i would love to work with a “real” individualized trainer some day.

  2. Yep, and mine was great! Even though I love working out and probably didn’t need him there to motivate me to exercise, it was so nice to have someone make up my workouts for me rather than writing them up myself. I plan to get my personal trainer cert at some point in the future and when I do, I’m about 90% sure I’ll go with NASM. 🙂

  3. I had looked into becoming a trainer a few years ago. I thought it would be a nice counterpiece to my yoga training credentials. I ordered the ACE materials but I just couldn’t get motivated to really dig into it. In general though it was more for “me” than to actually train people per se; more like a self-knowledge thing, learning things I didn’t know, not necessarily to actually get a job training people.

    But anyway, there are soooo many certification programs and different programs out there but you are so smart for going with NASM. I think it’s the gold standard and is really well-respected and congrats for sticking with it and passing and accomplishing your goal!

  4. I’ve worked with 5 personal trainers over the years. And the best one hands down, was the one who could also give me nutritional advice and support. Because as we all know, you could work your butt off in the gym but if you aren’t eating the right foods you won’t see results. Since she could give me both I saw the best results.

  5. I haven’t ever worked with a personal trainer, but I would like to. In fact, I saw a picture of Gwyneth Paltrow in a magazine this morning, and I texted a friend that I would like to have Tracey Anderson show up at my house a few times a week for my Christmas present this year. 🙂

    I know her methods aren’t entirely healthy living blogger approved (light weights, high repetitions, etc), but her clients look pretty darn good!

  6. I worked with one last year and it was a great experience, best 3 months of workouts! They pushed me with lots of strength training and heavy lifting I would never have done on my own, as well as pushing me to higher levels on the cardio machines. I had a lot of thoughts like “I can’t do that!” but I could, and I did! They also did a nutritional assessment and suggested meal plan, and in each session they stressed that what I do in the gym can only go so far, I need to back it up with healthy eating….I loved my personal training experience and def agree that the nutrition piece is critical!

  7. This was super helpful, thanks Tina. I really had no idea that NASM was the preferred certification for most gyms. I’m graduating soon and thinking of becoming certified so I’ll definitely be looking more into this one.

  8. The only time I did was with my dad and my brother who were both trainers. I really want to try one out, not sure when I will though…$$$. Congrats on the certification/schooling. I’d love to go for the FNS so thanks, I love picking your brain on it.

  9. I have to admit I’m very intimidated by quinoa, I don’t even know how to say it! When you say you cooked it last night, how exactly did you go about doing that?

    1. @Pauline: Quinoa is like other grains, typically made with a 2:1 ratio. 2 cups liquid (water/broth) and 1 cup grain. Bring water to a boil, add grain, cover, reduce heat, simmer until water is absorbed. That is how I prepare it, anyway. It is pronounced Keen-wa.

  10. I think trainers are great–and I do training myself (I got both my B.S. and M.S degrees in exercise sciences, so we had to do all the stuff plus more that trainers learn –and also got a degree in nutrition and a cert in coaching). I must say, I like the well-roundedness SO much better than just 1 or the either. This is why I decided to do both instead of either personal trainer or dietetics. I love what I do! Congrats again to you:)

    Love quinoa in the a.m.!!

  11. Tina – your breakfast looks so much better than mine. My kashi oatmeal exploded in the microwave and I had to settle for an everything bagel from an office holiday party. It’s a strange day when I’d prefer my oats over a bagel!

  12. I’ve never worked with a personal trainer, but I would love to! If this is helpful at all to you, I also believe that so much of the results you see come from what you eat. So, if I ever do hop on the personal trainer bandwagon, I would look for someone who can tell me what to lift AND how to optimize my eating. I think it’s so important to have that background knowledge, whether through a credentialing program or on your own. The credentialing program might put clients more at ease and be a larger selling point, though!

  13. congrats on passing the exam! I have worked out my a trainer before, and sometimes I liked it better then others. I like paying for a trainer when I know I’m going to be pushed to my limit, and when I’m not I leave feeling like I wasted my money a bit

  14. Congrats again on the NASM certification! How are you planning to use your certification, at a gym or working with individual clients on your own?
    I have a full time job that I like but I’m really interested in becoming a CPT but just don’t know if I’d have the time, maybe part time at least. Thanks for the info!

  15. That is awesome and I’ve heard the same about NASM being the best. I had a bad experience with a trainer once. He told me I needed to lose 10 pounds (I don’t) so I’d buy a package with him and in my free trial sessions forced me to do things I said I really didn’t like. But I’ve had private Refine Method and Core Fusion classes and those were awesome.

  16. I actually worked with a personal trainer for about 4 months this year and loved it. He made me do stuff I would never even think of and made sure I finished each rep/set with correct form. Good luck as you move into the next step of becoming a personal trainer!

  17. Thanks for posting this! I’m a registered dietitian who also majored in exercise physiology so I’m interested in which certification to get. I’ve looked at ACE, ACSM, NASM, and CSCS.

    Any good coaching programs you would recommend, as far as how to help behavior change?

    I’ll be looking forward to your follow-up posts!

  18. I worked with a personal trainer last year ( a gift from my mom for christmas – not sure if that’s good or bad … haha) I realy didn’t like the experience unfortunatley. I saw him once a week for 30 minutes and I hardly ever even broke a sweat. After the sessions were done, I haven’t seen him since. kinda wierd..I’m sure most people have better sessions though!

  19. I had three personal trainers in 6 months. The first one was AMAZING and I almost moved gyms to follow her (which I should have), the second one was okay but you could tell she wasn’t fully there (just up and quit the gym one day no notice), the third was a guy who was just a little too pushy for my taste. I felt like I was being harassed so I just stopped going to the gym, in fact I am quitting that gym today and joining one closer to my house.

  20. You and I are doing things just the opposite. I am studying for my Nutrition Certification and will be going for the Personal Training Certification in January. I chose ISSA for the same reasons you chose NASM and I liked the fact that I could go for an associates degree if I wanted to go that far. I also love that I will get support after my certifications are over.

  21. i’ve loved working with a personal trainer! i wish i had more disposable income to go regularly though. my most recent trainer was great–he knew about my knee issues from running and made sure to focus on exercises that strengthed my hips (my weak hips were the cause of my knee problems).
    P.S. i just joined Equinox–I know you love that place too! they had $0 initiation fee this month plus a bunch of free things (2 personal training sessions, pilates reformer class, spa services), so I couldn’t resist! Pricey but worth it I think if it means I’ll go more often 🙂

  22. i’ve been working with my same personal trainer for 2.5 years now, twice a week! we have a great connection — we have fun, she kicks my butt, and the price is very reasonable because I get an alumni rate (university gym). I wouldn’t be where I am without her!

  23. Can you tell me how long you studied for it? I’m getting my masters in exercise physiology and plan to take the ACSM exam next semester. Just wondering how much time I’m going to need to plan for in preparation.

      1. @Cat: @Cat: I hope so, but I’m not confident. My focus is more on health and wellness promotion and less on science and training. Although I was just inspired to break out the books and see what I’m up against and I think I can handle it.

  24. I worked with a personal trainer a couple of times when I joined my gym (Healthworks) and it was just okay. I think because it’s included with membership, they don’t take the time to individualize anything, so everyone gets the same workout regardless of ability/injuries, etc. If I had the money, I’d love to workout with a trainer a couple of times a month, just to make sure I’m progressing.

  25. I have worked out with *many* personal trainers. Some women, some men. I have had awesome trainers that were inventive and pushed me, I have had really crappy trainers that pushed me beyond my limits and were totally unsupportive (he actually turned out to be my next-door neighbor!-no joke). I have had trainers that were just in it for the money and never helped me achieve much of anything, and I have had trainers that didn’t do much to change up my routine. I also have had young trainers that, though they may have had the job, didn’t have the skills and I actually knew more about what I needed to do than they did. My advice for anyone looking for a trainer: talk to the manager at your gym and ask for 3 or 4 short free sessions, only 15-20 minutes, where you can get a feel for the person before you commit. Training sessions, imo, can be totally worth it, provided the trainer is knowledgeable *and* can balance pushing you with supporting you. Congratulations on your certification Tina!!

  26. I got a free training session when I joined my gym and ironically the trainer that I worked with went to my high school [but was two years behind me]! He remembered me because I dated his friends older brother… Small world!

    The overally experience was awesome and I definitely woke up sore the next morning, my only complaint is how expensive the sessions are :/

  27. hi there, thanks for sharing your post with us, I like your blog and i enjoy reading it, looking forward to find more..:-)

  28. I work with one twice a week! I’ve been doing that since August and signed a year contract. I like it a lot and have noticed a difference in some measurements. The only thing I don’t like is having to be at the gym at a certain time. In a way it’s good because it makes me go, but on the other hand, if I’m stuck at work or if I get out early, I wish I could go when I wanted. LOL, basically I wish he was at my beck and call!

  29. I REALLY wish personal trainers weren’t so expensive. I’ve worked with ones a few times (once a couple of friends and I split a group training package), but I just cannot afford it on my own. Love the individual attention, though!

  30. Congrats on your certification! I have been debating getting mine for a few years now and think I just need to bite the bullet. I have wanted to do something that incorporates health and fitness so I’m so happy to hear that they do have a nutrition aspect too!

  31. I had an AMAZING trainer at my gym who pushed me to do more than I ever thought possible. She was motivating and encouraging, and I loved it! Unfortunately, she left my gym when she moved away, and the trainers that are there now are not as motivating, they are really only looking for that quota. I would definitely work with a trainer again, though!

  32. Great info on NASM! I’ve had a few trainers over the last 5ish years and all of them have motivated me to achieve fitness goals I never thought I would (now I do triathlons!). My current trainer is awesome and was the tri club coach throughout the summer. He is a NASM-certified trainer and also NASM corrective exercise specialist. I really like that when I have something that hurts (or clicks, pops…) he knows what I need to do to fix it and keep it from doing that again. I have to agree with the above posts, I really don’t need the trainer for motivation to workout, but love someone designing workouts for me and making sure form is correct, that I’m working the muscle groups that I need to, and just for sharing health and fitness knowledge.

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