Best personal training certification


In this article I’m going to give you insight on the best personal training certification for you. New personal trainers, this one is for you. I will detail everything a trainer can do to ensure that you have the information you need on how to become a personal trainer and see success. You can also check my twitter page to learn more about the best personal training certifications out there and finally I add new videos every week which can be accessed through my google+ page or my youtube channel

How I started

I’m going to give you a quick story about me and I’m going to go through all these certifications.

Quick story: I kind of fell into personal training. I started off working in a gym called Powerhouse. I really thought I was just going to be racking weights for the summer but the PT director over there took a liking to me. I was a football player for a Division One school so he liked my story about learning about fitness, learning how to train myself and wanting to help other people. I essentially went through a mentorship program where I was just kind of like an apprentice to the trainers. I was in the gym for twelve hours a day for at least a month just learning how to train, and how to talk to people. I didn’t get certified for a very, very long time.

I even started my own boot camp, I had not yet earned my first certification. But I started this channel, and in order to answer your questions, I earned some of the most popular certifications you could find out there specifically ACE, NASM and NSCA

What makes certifications different?

In terms of which certification is right for you, the first thing I want to help you understand is that many CPT certifications are very, very similar. In terms of the testing for these certifications I’m pretty sure that I could’ve studied for the NSCA certification and passed the NASM pretty easily and maybe even the ACE pretty easily.

It just depends on how well you study and how well you retain information. You have to understand that fitness is the same no matter what. There’s always going to be risk factors, you’re always going to have to have a base line understanding of nutrition. You want to understand how certain exercises work certain parts of the muscle. You’ll want to understand fitness testing. You want to learn how to keep clients safe. And you want to understand scope of practice.

That’s essentially what all personal training certifications do. There are a lot of other certifications that I haven’t mentioned besides ACE, NSCA and NASM. Such as NESTA, ISSA, ACSM but when you look at the requirements for gyms that are hiring you’re not going to find any gym that wouldn’t take any one of those three: ACE, NASM, and NSCA. So those are the three for the baseline.

Let’s talk about the ACE Certification

Now when it comes to ACE, that’s the first certification that I earned, I actually purchased the ACE study material three or four years before I ever took the exam. Even though I wasn’t officially certified I had all of the knowledge and implemented all of the knowledge of the ACE program into my training. I was just very scared to test. A lot of people are scared to test and that’s why I put together videos on my channel on what you want to know for each certification. Here it is Below

So you can’t be afraid of testing because if you study the material you’re going to be okay…. As long as you’re not studying for the current version of ACE.

The current version of the ACE manual and honestly this makes me want to jump off of a bridge. My biggest issue with ACE is that they load up so much useless information and they repeat themselves so often. I honestly think that the book should be half as thick as it is. If it were me and I had to give you guys advice on it, I personally wouldn‘t recommend the ACE because to me it’s a very complicated read and a lot of the fitness testing and screening things that they you would probably never do.

Let’s talk about YOUR career path

If you specifically want to start off your career working in a gym, and that’s probably the path of least resistance in a lot of ways. You get a lot of people thrown your way without having to do a lot of marketing on your own. When applying to a gym, it’s helpful for you to have a certification.

I really didn’t need to get any other certs when I started my business because a lot of clients don’t even know what certs to ask for. When you think about it, you don’t even know what certs to get. So, clients don’t really know what certs to ask for. 

Now, being completely practical and transparent if I were going to train on my own again and I wasn’t going to work at a gym I would purchase the study material for a given certification, study that, and I wouldn’t drop $500+ to take the exam. You have to understand I’m kind of a cynic when it comes to education and the way that they charge money for just a piece of paper that doesn’t necessarily determine whether or not you are a good trainer. Some people test really well and won’t implement anything they learned in the book. Some people test really poorly but know the book like the back of their hand. What I’m saying is if you want to work at a gym you have to get this piece of paper. If you want to go solo and you are short on money, I would say purchase the text book from one version back.

Let’s talk about the NSCA Certification

This is the NSCA manual and it hasn’t been updated in a few years. To be honest with you the NSCA exam was the hardest exam that I took. I honestly thought that they gave me the wrong exam and I was taking the CSCS exam instead of the personal training exam.

It was the hardest one to study for but the NSCA certification will give you I believe the broadest amount of information as it relates to how to train. There’s a lot to absorb in the NSCA booklet but at least it’s not repetitive and it’s explained clearly. It’s just a lot.

I think you’d be better prepared to train a larger demographic of people than just the layperson if you have the NSCA cert but it is harder

Let’s talk about the NASM Certification

Here for instance is the current edition for the NASM personal training exam. This is the fifth edition. When I became certified with NASM I took the 4th edition example but I actually used the third edition manual to prepare for it. I saved about $60 on the manual and just bought the practice exam for the current version. If there was a term I wan’t familiar with, I just looked it up, but I never felt caught off guard while taking the exam.

If I were to recommend a certification for you guys to start off with, especially if you’re just looking to train the layperson, not exactly high intensity athletes I am actually a fan of NASM. I feel that their screening is going to be most relatable to the average person that you’ll see walking down the street if they were looking to get fitter. I believe that even though the newest edition isn’t as clear as the previous editions, it is the easiest to understand.

Should I get more than one certification?

I know you only need one certification. There’s no reason for me to have three as a professional trainer, but as a mentor to you guys I had to get multiple certifications so I could explain things like this to you.

If I were to suggest more education, it would be my Dumbbells to Dollars Course because it’s everything the certifications didn’t teach you about prospecting clients, selling, closing, nutrition coaching, and starting your OWN business.

It took me from being a know nothing big box gym trainer to a fitness business owner who works 3 hours a day and has cleared $100K in revenue for the last 8 years. I know what it’s like to be broke and switch industries, so if you wanted to try the Dumbbells to Dollars Course, you can enroll today!. Get all the information from me experience and personal coaching from me. Register below!



Click here to register for the course


So let’s wrap this up, I feel the you will get the most information and be prepared for the broadest audience with NSCA.

I feel that ACE is good and highly respected, but I it a pain to read and don’t see myself transferring their methods into real life training.

NASM is my suggestion to a new personal trainer, besides being the most popular certification because they market the hardest, I feel their training method is most likely to appeal the most common client you’ll have to train. Even if you don’t use their OPT model verbatim.

And I can personally surround you with successful trainers that have been in your shoes, the best information on how to be successful in today’s market and personal mentoring from ME with my Dumbbells to Dollars Course.

So that’s it I hope you found this article helpful. Remember, get educated, train your butts off and I guarantee you’ll be successful!