How do I become a certified personal fitness trainer?

Dr. Mike Clark, DPT
Check out and look at their CPT program.  NASM is the gold standard in personal training certification

To become a certified personal trainer you have to purchase educational material from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Then go get CPR certified. You must be CPR certified before you can become a personal trainer. Study the material from NASM and then schedule your date at a testing facility through NASM to take your personal trainers certificate test. Pass the test and you will receive a certificate that you can use to start personal training.

Start with a love for; fitness, a healthy lifestyle, customer service and guiding others along their path to success...

Do some research on the many different organizations that offer certification. Weigh not only the pros and cons of each one (cost, study resources, accreditation, etc.) but also each of their methodologies.

If you are planning to work in a gym, find out which certifications they will accept (some only accept their own in-house programs). This will help in weighing the pros and cons and limit your list of options (which will be helpful because there are many organizations offering certification).

If you are planning on just learning the material for your own personal knowledge, and do not plan to see clients, then go with the organization that offers the best bang for the buck.

Above all, I advise that your "first" certification be with an organization that most closely aligns to your current fitness methodologies and is backed in research. I say your "first" certification because it is foolish for any professional to whole heartedly back one methodology. Fitness research is constantly evolving and a professional should be well versed in various methodologies, as each has its place in a program and within the industry.

Get Up, Get Out, and Get Going...

I would watch other personal trainers and get a good base knowledge of anatomy and physiology. Research reputable organizations such as National Academy of sports Medicine, American College of Sports Medicine and take their workshops and study.

You can become a certified personal trainer by taking a certification course at a local course that offers the program. Upon the completion of the training course you will need to take a proctored exam. Some schools that offer training online may be more convenient for you such as ISSA and NASM.

NPTI is a "traditional" in depth hands on certification course. Upon completion of that course you will be certified as a personal trainer and a group exercise instructor and will gain the experience you need to get that extra edge in the industry.

There are also certifications classes that you can take at your local college if it is offered. In these types of classes you will get the knowledge that you need to pass the exam.

I chose to get my certification through NASM because it is convenient and affordable. I could study at my own pace and I had all the materials I needed to help prepare me for the exam and for training my clients.

This is more of a journey than a destination. As a trainer you are constantly studying and learning. But to become a CERTIFIED personal trainer you need to do a lot of research on the company you want to go through. I chose N.A.S.M after having several other certifications and the reason I chose N.A.S.M. is because they focus a lot on the brain and how it takes a big role in muscle movement and control and they also focus on injury prevention and evidence based exercise. There are too many trainers out there that do not know how to prevent injury in their clients. That is more business for me but I do not like to see this in the industry. Make sure you are always being tested on your knowledge and you are always searching for more information. I was a frustrated trainer in the early 90's because so many changes were happening in the fitness industry and I couldn't decipher what was right and what was wrong. I finally decided to quit focusing on what was "wrong" and just keep up on research to learn what was right. The research and new science will never end, so choose a good company to certify you and then keep up with the research. Self-study is just as important if not more, than continuing education. 

There are a plethora of certifications on the market for those interested in becoming a certified personal trainer. I would suggest looking at nationally recognized certifications only, as they have more substantial resources and backing. Also, a national cert will be recognized wherever you may end up, not just at your local gym. Many of the smaller certification companies are mainly in the business to make money, so be wary.

Once you pass your certification exam and obtain your CPR card, and have some sort of liability insurance, you are ready to begin coaching. However, the certification is not the end all of information, it is only the beginning. Use continuing education courses to further your knowledge and education and you will find yourself specializing in areas that interest you. For example, you may enjoy functional training, or athletic training, or seniors training, or training for weight loss, etc. After you obtain your national certification, the world of personal training will open up with opportunities for growth and learning about the profession as well as about yourself.

To become a Certified Personal Trainer, I recommend going with a program that is nationally recognized. I will be biased by saying I am proud to be certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. I appreciate their format of incorporating a gradual progression through an exercise program. 

I know firsthand how easily overwhelming the options are of certification programs out there. I strongly advise avoiding certification programs that emphasize the amount of money you can make, this is a red flag, in my opinion, and if you are going into this business just to make money, then you are not entering this profession with the best intentions.

I would recommend if possible to take a workshop certification course, so that you are able to experience the training in a hands-on environment. You will typically be provided with materials to study on your own for at least a few weeks prior to taking the workshop, so you will have some background knowledge ahead of time.  You need to be passionate about fitness, about health and well-being and especially about helping people. If you don't have that passion, your clients will realize this quickly. I wish you the best in your endeavors. Do your research on the certification program that best fits you, check out for more information on their certification.

There are numerous certifying agencies out there, some better than others. After researching many options, I decided upon the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). The course work was challenging but it was one of the best choices I have ever made.
There are so many choices out there for you to become a certified personal fitness trainer. However, you must make sure that you do your research and choose an institution that is accredited by the NCCA. In my opinion NASM is the best place to go through but their are others such as ACE, NCSF, and AFTA. Just make sure you review your options closely and make a selection based on your individual needs.
Do your research regarding the different personal trainer certification boards. Decide if you are interested in an online program that you take as a home study or a certification course offered at a university where you would attend the class. PUrchase the materials required, complete the course, take and pass the exam. A few certification board examples are the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the International Sports Science Association (ISSA), and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
First you want a nationally accredited certification. The National Academy of Sports Medicine(Nasm-Cpt) is Gold standard and is widely accepted in fitness clubs.Be careful of the non accredited certifications they are a waste of your hard earned money.Do your homework before you decide.

If you have a passion for not only fitness, but for helping people improve their health and quality of life, personal training can be a great career option for you. However, certification and continuing education are vital in ensuring that clients are getting reliable and accurate information from the trainers they work with. If you are looking at certification organizations to become a fitness professional, be sure to work with one that is accredited through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Examples of accredited organizations are NASM, ACSM and NSCA. These are great organizations to work with to begin your fitness career and that provide superb continuing education opportunities to expand your knowledge and professional skills.

These days there are several different ways to get certified to be a personal fitness trainer. One of the most common ways to do so is to purchase a test and study material which has been approved and accredited by the NCCA.  The National Academy of Sports Medicine has testing material and an outstanding list of resources to help successfully complete an accredited test. These resources include two day workshops, study guide, online videos and DVDs, webinars, and live help available during normal business hours.
There are also academic institutions which incorporate the National Academy of Sports Medicine curriculum and certification information available. Some of these institutions include an 840 hour program which not only teach the Certified Personal Trainer course, but also teach the Corrective Exercise Specialist and the Performance Enhancement Specialist information.  One of the many benefits of attending an institution such as this is the included externship. Many gyms these days are looking for experienced individuals in addition to having national recognized certifications. In many cases these institutions include more than 100 hours of "experience".  This allows the students to actually learn how to apply the concepts and get their "hands dirty" with program design and customer service.

Brian Floyd
There are many certifications out there to choose from.  Some notable ones include NASM, ACSM and NSCA. You will want to make sure the certifications are nationally recognized.  Many companies like NASM also offer other certifications like Corrective Exercise Specialist and Performance Enhancement Specialist. This will allow you to become more educated and specialize you in different areas of fitness to separate you from other trainers out there. I also recommend at least getting a bachelor's degree in exercise science, nutrition, Kinesiology or any other fitness area. Also remember that you will need to be CPR, and AED certified before taking these exams.  Best advice is the more education and certifications you have the more able you are to better serve your clients and their goals.  
There are many certifications out there and you want to make sure you get the right certifcation that meets the needs of the clients you are working for.  First off you want to make sure you are CPR and AED certified since that is what is need before you can even get certified.  Also look for a nationally recognized organization.  If there is a certain company you want to work for always ask them what they require as well.  The two top certifications out there are NASM and ACSM.  You will notice that most companies now days will even require you to have these types of certifications or even ask you to get these even if you are certified already by another company. 
The process to become a certified personal fitness trainer begins with enrolling in a certification course with an accredited NCCA exam. This involves taking education that can be done online, or with resources including textbooks, DVD materials, or attending live workshops. The education culminates with the student taking the certification exam. Upon completion and passing of the exam you will be awarded the title of Certified Personal Trainer. To learn more about becoming a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer go to

To become a certified personal fitness trainer, you will first need to pass a certification test. Currently, the fitness industry is not a federally regulated profession, so be sure to seek out a quality certification organization by researching various options. Typically, the most marketable certifications are those awarded by companies that have had the certification accredited by a third-party. You can also check with your local gym and speak to the fitness manager about what certification organizations are most reputable and which they look for when hiring their staff.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.