CPT Blog #1: Choosing ACSM

I’m so excited to be writing this series over the course of the next few months! Not only because I am passionate about getting my personal trainer certification (CPT), but also because it is something y’all seemed interested in too. This first blog is going to be on the most important first step: how to choose. I decided to become a personal trainer because  I want to help people live a healthier lifestyle. Even though my degree is in marketing, I’ve always loved lifting and had a passion for health/fitness/nutrition that I want to apply and challenge myself with.

No matter what the reason for choosing to get your CPT–main job, to go with your degree, passion, side job, fun, etc.–once you’ve decided to get your certification (great choice!), you need to select one of the many different organizations that offers CPT certifications. NASM, ACSM, ACE, ISSA…the list goes on. Although there are many, most of them are going to be equally accepted at gyms and most of your clients won’t even know the difference. However, the starting point should be that if you have your heart set on working for a certain gym, check with them to see what certifications they accept (most will accept NASM, ACSM, and ACE). Next step, is to do your research because each organization will offer slightly different things in terms of study plans, study products/reviews, workshops, textbooks, testing and retesting, etc. Although it may seem daunting, going through each website and checking it out for yourself is your best bet.

With that said, I narrowed my final decision down to NASM and ACSM because they seemed to be the two best programs. Please note this is not to say that any other wouldn’t be okay or if you already have your cert from one of these other orgs you’re “less”, just from my research I found these two to be my best options on account of offerings, credibility, and the organization as a whole. I did more research, watched numerous videos, and looked at the packages and I finally decided upon ACSM for 3 reasons:

1) ACSM seems to be the “gold standard” of CPT, the extra-mile so to speak, which caught my attention because I always want to be and do the best. You Again, NASM is still an excellent program and you learn essentially the same material–NASM even uses textbooks that refer to studies and research by ACSM. Personally, I felt that through research ACSM seemed slightly higher.

2) ACSM’s 3-day workshop.  While NASM has a live workshop, it was 1 day and seemed to be more of working out and some superficial application. ACSM’s 3-day workshop was in-depth studying of the material, applications, and tricks/tools for remembering material. The workshop received great reviews as being really helpful. It also is offered many, many times a year at all different locations so you can find the one that works best for you.

3) ACSM is science-based–something I was interested in knowing the science behind it all. However, NASM gears their programs towards creating workout programs, which is probably slightly more useful for being a certified personal trainer. Personally, I wanted more of the science and knowledge in my studies though.

Last step in after choosing your program is to choose the package you’ll buy. NASM does slightly better in laying out their different packages for purchase and showing the differences in what you get. With ACSM, there aren’t really packages, more of multiple different components you can buy to help you. This is one of the downsides to ACSM, my dad had to call their service number to help get understanding and clarity. With that said, I ended up getting almost everything I could to help me. This included: 3 textbooks (a resource textbook, a guideline for testing and prescribing, & a certification test review), prepU (online study course), and a 3-day workshop. All in all, I believe the ACSM is slightly cheaper (about $200) when comparing the two, but NASM does have cheaper packages for self-study rather than other resources.

Overall, you won’t go wrong as long as you do the research and take the time to choose the program that best fits you, your lifestyle, needs, resources, etc.

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