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Don't bother with NASM!

by Jake
(Vagina Beach, VA)

I have a friend who failed the NASM exam three times...he insists it is very difficult and I told him it was all in his head. To inspire him I said I would pay for it and pass it. So, after 3 evenings of study, I took it today.

I have no knowledge of the fitness industry (I am an unemployed IT professional/day trader/real estate entrepreneur) and I am a forty year old male, if that makes any difference. Passed the exam very comfortably first time. First, I will tell you what I did to pass. Then I will tell you why you shouldn't bother with this useless exam/organization.

I bought the NASM student package. Still a ripoff, in my opinion. Their dvd, mp3, online lessons, and ipod format are all the SAME thing. Essentially, all you get is a $50 book and study guide, and the dvd lessons, which I will place a value of $10-20 on. Lynda.com gives you unlimited lessons on really difficult stuff like programming for a month for $15! So, it's a ripoff. Microsoft certification exams, given at the same testing centers, cost $150. The online practice exams, which are nothing but a question bank with a crappy interface, should cost another $5 at most. So, I think the whole thing is worth $220. Another $20 in "NASM dues" would be reasonable. The whole thing should cost $250. It costs twice that! Ok, griping about the price is not part of the deal, but I am a big believer in value, and I found very little of that with NASM. More about that in the second part of my essay.

I started by trying to read the incredibly boring text, cover to cover. I couldn't. It's painful how boring it is. So, I did the online lessons. They were a bit easier to get through and I made it through all of them over two days. Then I purchased the guide to passing your exam that is sold on this side, and I looked at all the tables and definitions they tell you to mug up on. Finally, I took the practice exam five times, reading up on everything I got wrong before moving on. I ended up with 19 pages of notes from the practice exams, the study tips this site gives, and from the online lessons. Don't bother with the web-based seminars at the end of the NASM online lessons, btw, they are completely useless. I listed to the first one and a bit of the second one before shutting it down.

The exam itself took me 40 minutes. It was stupid. Half the things they told you to study were not on it at all. There was ONE question on special populations. There were a few things asked that were not covered in the course material, or were asked confusingly. For instance, the text says resting heart rate is between 70 and 80. On the exam, one of the questions asked what it was for women, and the choices were 65, 70, 75, and 80. Three of these could be right. And because I passed the exam, I don't know if I got this one right or not, as they don't give you any more info besides the fact that you passed. Stupid.

Within the text, the information is presented in a very wordy, confusing, convoluted manner, and sometimes it makes no sense. For instance, if you add up the percentages of carbs, proteins and fats that they recommend you eat, you end up with more than 100. And if they give two things in percentages, the third will be in grams/kg of body weight. Retarded.

Finally, they told you in the text to take in 96 oz of water. But the exam asked the question in quarts. Now, I grew up abroad, and I learned the metric system. I don't give a fcuk about ounces or quarts, and I don't know what 96 ounces is in quarts, nor should I have to. Are they testing your unit conversion skills or whether you know the stuff or not? Stupid! I don't know if I got this right or not, and I could check easily, but I don't care.

All of this is minor. The really big thing I have a problem with is the excessive amount of science detail they fill your head up with. As fitness trainers/athletes, you already know or do all of this stuff, whether you call it balancing or stability or plyometrics or whatever. Sure, it's good to have a solid foundation, but I found a lot of the phrases (neuromuscular this or functional efficiency that) to be useless nonsense. We don't use it in daily life, and certainly a fitness professional would not use it with clients. So why can't they teach it in simple English and leave this jargon crap out of it. It does not make you smarter or more knowledgeable to learn obscure words and phrases you will never use. Stupid!

Why should we memorize all the muscle names and what to do to stretch or strengthen them when in real life we would be looking it up in a table or online anyways. I believe the exam should allow us to reference the same tables that we would use in real life. Very silly of NASM to test one's ability to memorize, rather than analyze.

The exam allows you to mark questions so you know which ones you would like to revisit. When I was done, I saw that I had 19 marked questions. That means I was sure I had already answered 101 questions correctly already. That was 81 without the test questions that are in there, and I knew I would pass even if I got a few more wrong.

I then got my exam graded. I have no use for this certification but it was nice to pass, I guess. There was a guy who looked very buff next to me, also taking the test. It was his second time, he failed again, and he admitted he had not studied either time. I don't understand people like this.

My tips:
Buy the exam passing package from this site.
Take the practice exam.
Take notes on what you don't know and learn it.
Relax. You will pass.

Another thing--when I called NASM, they said they were the most highly regarded certification. I don't believe this is true, but I do believe they are highly regarded. Also, they give you an 800 number to call for help with the exam. I left three messages there. Still waiting for a call-back. Interestingly, they pick up very promptly on their sales lines. Hmmmm.

Having taken the test, and having observed my roommate/buddy go through the depression of failing repeatedly, I would say that you should not do this to yourself. You don't need to be certified to be in this business. Learn all this stuff online, and go get clients. Most won't ask about your certifications and as long as you know more than them, they will be happy enough. And if you do this for 8 months or more, you will acquire the basic knowledge/fundamentals that you need.

I have already forgotten the tables and figures, muscle names, acronyms, exercise classifications and progressions and regressions and development methodologies and bio lessons on muscle structure and terminology and macronutrient recommended daily dosages that are in the text. Yet I am still certified. This will tell you how little the certification really means.

Can I get clients if I wanted to? I have been asked before, so I think that I can, but I don't know. Certainly the stuff in the book and certification won't help. Do I know enough about exercising and nutrition to help people? Sure, but again, the course and certification didn't help in this. In fact, the course confused the hell out of me with all the exercises for each of the phases and other groupings. Perhaps if they had called me back, I could understand what they are going on about. If I ever do become a trainer and get a client, you can be sure I won't be using the NASM methodology, which I don't fully understand.

Skip the certification, go to fitness classes for martial arts, TRX, cross-fit, aerobics and yoga, learn the routines, learn basic cardio principles, get clients, research the issues that any of them have, and get going. Don't waste your time/confidence/energy on this.

Best of luck!

Comments for Don't bother with NASM!

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Message Above
by: Anonymous

That was an excellent read and great information.

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I agree with this poster about them not returning messages..
by: Anonymous

I phoned "Mabel" twice at the 800# before my exam to ask a couple of questions. I phoned on a Monday and asked that she call me back before my exam on Friday. Never heard from her. And this poster is correct about the sales people phoning you back immediately. Nice customer service. I found that once they had me reeled in and had my credit card, they didn't want to be bothered by me. So much for their NASM "standards".

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NASM Overated and Overpriced
by: Anonymous


Jake those are Excellent comments/observations.

Nice to see someone can think critically and with common sense thrown in.

My opinion is NASM is overrated. Its a good certification but definitely not the best as they claim. Totally agree about their terms and Jargon it makes one think the certification is more sophisticated than it really is.

Have you ever noticed that the most respected fitness training trainers have a CSCS next to their name. That should tell you something.

NASM is vastly overpriced.

Some Nasm trainers I know think they are Physical therapist. Don't know about you but I wouldn't let NASM trainers prescribe exercise if I had a significant injury without first talking to a doctor or a physical Therapist.

MY opinion is Mark Rippletoes certification is if not the best close to it.

GC

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cert
by: Akaisoras

Again, the cert is nothing more then a thing to verify that you passed the exam and can qualify at the gym to be a trainer, which is their minimum requirement, NOT to teach you everything you need to know about working out, that is the biggest mistake everyone makes, the steps is, get the cert, work at a good gym, get the experience, that is the basic start

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I work at a gym
by: Anonymous

I work at a gym and the trainers must have certain certifications before they are hired. NASM is one that is accepted; not all certifications are. Every gym has their own requirements but I've never heard of someone who would hire a trainer without a certification and NASM is becoming one of most highly regarded. Just sayin'.

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NASM gets you paid well
by: Anonymous

I have both ISSA and NASM certs. I was first certified through ISSA and eventually decided to obtain NASM's CPT cert. because I was paid more by employers. At the end of the day, it really depends more on where the trainer would like to work. If you're going to be an independent contractor in a gym or even start your own studio (or mobile training!) there isn't as much weight on the certification you choose. However, most facilities seem to pay a higher rate per session to those certified through NASM than any other certifying agency. Look as Lifetime Fitness for example. You don't have to be certified through NASM to be hired but they do expect trainers to obtain it within the first 6 months of employment.

I think it all boils down to the fact the NASM really is the only certifying agency that is recognized and backed by the American Medical Association.

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NASM moneymaker
by: Anonymous

NASM used to be a great certification company that cared about education. Now all they care about is making money and lots of it! Buyer beware! They shove their shit down your throat and make every Lifetime trainer take their exam. A good trainer should not assume a client needs to foam roll or lateral tube walk if their knees cave in during an overhead squat! A good trainer questions everything and does not assume anything.
Check out NSCA, ACSM, RTS, and ACE before giving your money to the cult of NASM.

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Don't Drink the Cool-Aid
by: Anonymous

Everyone is drinking the NASM Cool-Aid! Why doesn't Grey Cook, Eric Cressy or Tom Purvis have the NASM credentials?

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Read answers carefully
by: Anonymous

In skim reading this, I got to the part where you said that, "special populations resting heart rate could be BETWEEN 70 & 80. You then said the question on the test asked which was correct for a woman's heartrate (65, 70, 75, and 80). You then said that three answers could be right. That's NOT true. The statement said, the heart rate would be BETWEEN 70 and 80. Only "75" is BETWEEN. 70 and 80 are the boundries, what is BETWEEN IT? How can 70 be between 70 & 80? It can't, so that is wrong. How can 80 be BETWEEN 70 AND 80? It can't, so that is wrong. 65 is obviously wrong. . .only 75 is BETWEEN. Let me show you again 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, (75), 76, 77, 78, 79, 80. See? Only ONE number is BETWEEN.

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If they do not have a practical exam why bother
by: Anonymous

Both W.I.T.S World Instructor Training Schools and P.F.I.T. Professional Fitness Instructor Training still have Practical exams along with there written exams. They also have a lot of actual class and or instructor time. I think there are a couple of other courses offering practicals also. I like to look at it like this, would you go see a Dentist that took an on line course even if they made a really good score on their computer base exam. I think not. I took both, P.F.I.T. was the hardest but they really helped you learn.

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NASM is the best online cert out there
by: val tman

Hmm well sure you would be confused if you just crammed the review package instead of reading the book. They may have a few special names for different things but most of their terminology is the same as what you would find in any science book. and yes it is important to know the names origins and insertions of your body's major muscles. This is what you would be forced to memorize your first year as a kinesiology major in college anyways.

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you're an idiot
by: Anonymous

of course it was a waste of time and money for you, you did it as a just to thing for encouragment to a friend. maybe instead of you buying the program and test you should have just helped him pass his test. you aren't so smart for being an IT guy are you. stick to what you know not what you think you could know because there is way more to just getting a certification. you have to keep up with the education and if you really want to be a top notch CPT you should go to college for sports medicine and not rely on a piece of paper for your say so.

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nasm
by: Anonymous

The science portion of NASM is what it is known for. Learning the background behind what you are doing is vital to comprehend the ability to properly train and explain what you are doing to your clients. Being more knowledgeable than needed is definitely going to help you in the long run. You should really rethink what you are doing.

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get a degree in Kinesiology
by: Anonymous

Get a degree and be done with it....no need for a damn certification

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Just failed NASM
by: Humbled

Wow, I'm shocked.. I feel like my test prep was completely off.. I feel like I followed it pretty well and the Final Exam didn't cover stuff I spent way to much time on.. I surprised myself and did really good on the Nutrition (which was the hardest part for me) but completely bombed on the Client Relations.. Which I felt good about going into it.. Odd because I walked away confident only to find out I failed..

I don't feel like the test covered anywhere near what I spent time learning..

Incredibly humbled now..

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Stupid...Retarded...Hmmm
by: Mark

This review, while it does have some merit, is a perfect example of why some people shouldn't be allowed to post their thoughts in a public forum.

First, you say you "passed quite comfortably", yet you acknowledge that you don't receive a grade on the exam, just pass or fail. You also say that since you don't get a grade, or get any sort of question review (what exam does this?), you don't know which questions you got right or wrong, which completely contradicts your previous points.

Yes, the textbook is long and boring. It's a textbook. Find me one that isn't.

It clearly states in the text that the average heart rate for men is 70 and women is 75. If you would have actually "studied", you'd know things like this.

Oh, yes, the boring, useless study of anatomy. Newsflash, hotshot, it's a fitness certification. Fitness involves a lot of bones and musculature. Would it not be in every ones best interest for those being certified to have a solid understanding of what's going on under the skin? Would you prefer it just be left out, so you can complain about how incomplete the study materials are?

As far as nutrition, they give you percentage ranges for the consumption of carbs, fats and proteins. It just sounds like it's beyond you to think independently enough to manipulate these ranges to equal 100%.

And you, an admitted middle-aged, unemployed, master-of-nothing who knows nothing about fitness finds the science jargon like "neuromuscular efficiency" and "plyometric training" to be nonsense? Good.

Not to mention, you're unemployed and claim to have just spent $500-600 on a certification you don't have any use for. Great use of resources there, genius.

If you didn't catch it, I think your review is either complete BS, or you're a stupid, stupid little man who has nothing better to do with his time than bash things he doesn't understand.

THAT SAID, NASM is a private entity in the business of making money. I'm sure they do just fine as their prices are fairly outrageous for what you get. I just completed the CPT cert and was considering taking an advanced certification while the brain is still rolling. However, something like their PES or CES cert is another $600, and it's an open-book test you can take at home, online. To me, the fact that it's open book and can be taken at home completely discredits the "advanced" value of the certification. It's $600 for a textbook and an exam voucher. The cost required to obtain this cert seems to be the only thing "advanced".
Also, the CPT exam itself seemed to be very poorly written, almost like it was done by someone who didn't fully understand the material. The practice tests on the NASM site all seemed fairly straightforward, but the exam itself seemed to be purposely vague and sometimes mis-worded, in what seemed like a deliberate effort to throw you off. Not in a "trying to be tricky" sort of deal, but more in a "this exam is full of mistakes" sort of deal.

In the end though, what are you gonna do? The entire education system is about making money. You can spend a couple grand on certifications or $40k on a bachelors degree that doesn't get you much, if anything more. NASM is one of the better options in the industry. If we want it we unfortunately have to play by it's overpriced rules.

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Surrre you took the test.
by: Hammer

Lol, loved Mark's response just above my post. I couldn't have put it better.

I was a little perplexed also by the "unemployed" shelling out $700ish for the package. Surrrre you did.

Also, you purchased the package, studied for 3 days, actually found an opening within the 3 days to be tested? That's pretty fortunate! I'm sure you already had your cpr/aed card handy, which you need to have before you take the test. *eyes roll*

Can anyone pass the test? Sure, it's multiple choice. Anyone may get lucky, or have background knowledge from a former anatomy class to get them through it. The questions on the test are generally worded a little different than the practice exam, and the jblearning study guide that receive access to when you purchase a new book for the course (the code is temporary for your access, and is inside the cover of the book).

A handful of the questions are the same as all of the practice exams, but generally, everything is a little off, just to make you think about the question more. That's the way I took it anyhow. I felt confident when I took it, and had less than 10 questions I had doubts about. You do need to study every chapter, then go through the chapter online once you finish it. Take every exam, and write down which ones you got wrong to put on flashcards. Personally, I made sure to study up on all of the 3 incorrect answers for each question, so I would know exactly what they pertained to. You also want to review every chapter again once you're done the book as a refresher, and take the online activities again for each chapter.

The original poster's schpeel was funny, but I highly doubt he took the test for real, and if he did, it's not like anyone would last more than one session with his "vast" knowledge of actual training.

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You are correct....don't bother with NASM
by: Paul

I'm 45 years old got certified at 40. I got into fitness after a near death hit and run experience. I was lucky to have a physical therapist with a Doctorate Degree who assisted me in fitness and exercise. I spent 6 months in therapy 4 times a week for 2 hours each time. So I just started asking my therapist a lot of questions.

I then got certified through ISSA. Now most people don't like ISSA because they test you on line. How ever their testing is only half multiple choice questions and the rest are essay questions which I really liked. The essay questions really make you stop and think and apply your actual knowledge of fitness.

I've a been a trainer for 5 years and have worked with many trainers who have degrees in exercise science or kinseology and have seen them fail the NASM or ACE exams. And after watching those college degree trainers train their clients I can see why they fail. Most of them don't correct their clients while training or really even teach the proper method for doing certain exercises. They have no personality nor applied knowledge of exercise and fitness. And when their clients ask them why they are doing a certain exercise or ask them to put together a work out routine for them, they either don't have an answer or put together a half ass work out.

You are correct in saying that we rarely use text book terminology when training clients. I have never once had a client ask me about plane of motion or name the bones in the body.

The only gyms that really care about the big 3 certifications are the big box gyms who only care about the bottom line and not the quality of the work out the trainer brings.

Training is about building a relationship with your clients and gaining their trust and confidence in you as a trainer. Many times I have had clients from other trainers approach me about dropping their trainer and getting on my schedule.

Oh and all the big buff guys don't really know fitness or proper form either. And why should they when most of them just take illegal supplements.

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NASM is worth it!!
by: Anonymous

Everyone is entitled to there opion. To me NASM is worth every penny. i didn't see any of the obscure questions you said where on the exam. the test was easy. at least with NASM you have an accredited certification.

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Profits over People
by: Anonymous

NASM was bought out years ago and is owned by a company called Ascend Learning. NASM cares about making a profit. Selling their expensive products to personal trainers is what they do! They now have infomercials! Yes,infomercials. They should spend more time on evidence based research than marketing. But wait, they are a for-profit company! Beware of any company that says they are the best. What are they the best at doing? They are the best at marketing! They are hoping the uneducated consumer will buy into it. Joe Cannon wrote a great article on NASM. I advise everyone to read it before they pay $699.00 for a cert when the non-for-profits charge half.

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NASM Losing Credibility
by: Anonymous

NASM is one big marketing machine. They remind me of an MLM company. Everyday my inbox is filled with NASM stuff that they are marketing. I just googled NASM employee reviews and was shocked. That is probably why the big box gyms especially Life Time Fitness love NASM. Profits over people! They are not about fitness.

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loser friend
by: John Law

First off, I am considering a career personal training and am researching the various programs. A friend of mine recommended the NASM. Information from Mr. know it all, was beneficial as far as what can be problems with the study guides, etc. But spending all that coin to show your friend how much smarter you are than him makes you a dick of a friend. instead of putting it down his throat, why not help him? I think your unemployed because no one wants to be around someone as arrogant as you are. Maybe you should lift (if you do) at Planet Fitness. maybe your cup of tea. And if your play genius, you need to remember values start after a number when it says "between". It did not say 70-80. So Mr. Unemployed (and probably single), stop trying to impress us with your Bill Mahre type of arrogance.


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NASM
by: Jimi

The online Eteach was helpful. I am busy a lot but found the test to be easy with only a few Q's I was worried about. They do have a couple of trick questions on the exam for CPT. NASM was actually pretty good. The weekly exams were hard to keep up with but I passed them all and I think you are allowed one grade below %80.for a job guarantee. They do a good job in preparing you if you can put in the time to study. It seems that most employers like/prefer NASM. I am wanting to eventually go independent soon though

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Terrible review
by: Dudeman

What an absolutely moronic review. First off, NASM is (generally) the highest regarded certification. Almost any commercial gym will ask that you are certified through NASM or accept NASM certification over other certs if they generally ask for something else.

The price is high I'll agree, but NASM is a business and this is pretty typical of any sort of education that offers a degree or certification for completion.

I'd go into details about all your other nitpicks of NASM, such has how knowledge of the body and scientific terms are useless for a career related to the science of your body (lol), but Mark already did a great job at outlining your stupidity point by point.

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MAN'S A FOOL
by: Anonymous

This guy is ignorant. Yes he learns by reading. That is only true about 30 % of the population. The text, online course videos AND odd unit study guides instruct that the average women's heart rate is 70 BPM.

This IT guy didn't express an interest in a baseline knowledge necessary to be a qualified trainer. He used the system most of us IT people use to pass IT certs. ie, study the practice examine, reading up on mistakes until you pass with 90%.

It programming not learning. That this fool doesn't realize the answer to his example is presented in all the training material except the practice test (apparently, I'm only at week 7 in the ecourse) and arrogantly assumes it was present, even while dicing a course he evidently has no back ground in expressed interest in amplifies his arrogance.

I've 6 IT certs and 6 disaster recovery certs, I worked up to senior IT administrator infused. I'm very smart in somethings. I'm 65, studying the NASM course. 30 years of yoga and Tai Chi, 6 years of moving until a foot injury, 7 years of Wing Chun Kung Fu and a present 3 years training in Russian Kettle Bells qualifies me as expert or advanced in 7 of the 8 domains NASM offers adequate instruction in.

I've been doing labs in the gym 5 days a week using all NASM's integrated techniques. 9 out of 10 people will not train in the modalities I'm great at. Learning NASM's system will allow me to train just about anyone who wants to be fit, to bail a nice their structure by applying the specific stretches I found they need by my understanding and apply the specific physical tests NASM teaches to determine starting fitness and balance. They learn the balance and dexterity applied power at real world speeds of a martial arts, which applied to golf, tennis, soft ball volley ball or kayaking will bring an immense sense of well being

If their on heart meds, anti depression, anti anxiety drugs they'll have an 80% probabty of coming off them. If they are diabetic, fat or obese, the later two can find a safe, fun way to get healthy, the first can find a healthier balance at the least.

So you determine, you think the guy who studied the cert test to pass it learned shit about helping others?

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difficulty
by: Anonymous

I'm not sure if this is encouraging or depressing to read.... I took the online class and got 70-80s on all the quizzes, spent a good amount of time studying, making notes and flashcards in prep for the practice exam and got a 50. Now I'm really nervous about taking the exam. I am pretty experienced in fitness, but there is no way I can memorize all the numbers and scientific terms. The best point you make is that any data I need to reference for programming I will look up to double check anyways, which is what I would expect a doctor to do when prescribing dosage. I did learn a lot but I fear the exam relies too much on memorization rather than practical application :(

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Education
by: Anonymous

I recommend that everyone keeps educating themselves on physical fitness. Just because you pass one exam does not make you a glorified PT. You must constantly keep educating yourself.

Stay strong

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agreed
by: Anonymous

Totally ridiculous ..how do i know ..from experience. .... nasm started out with greatness. body mapping .o.p.t. model and getting the ball rolling . however if you are a dedicated individual to your personal training career. nasm will try to drain you for more $$$$$$. True to the call center and on hold forever and the individual doesnt understand the anatomy lingo.. YOU article was right on key ......

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Love the comments
by: TriGirl

WOW! these are all the things I though about while getting certified through NASM. I was made to believe that if I didn't get certified through NASM, it would be very difficult to get hired by a gym. Now that I'm in the business, I see that is so not true.

The other thing that drives me crazy is having to spend tons of money every couple of years to get re-certified! Seriously? WHY? any other REAL occupation doesn't require you to go back to college every couple of years and get another diploma! come on man... we're personal trainers! not rocket scientists! People come to us for accountability to get healthy. What changes every two years to make me have to take more training? NOTHING! #itallcomesdowntomoney

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Can not pass
by: Anonymous

Hello,
I'm pretty sure I have a problem with memorizing material. Does anyone have any suggestions? I've taken the test twice and failed.

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why would i pay Nasm to work for someone thats gonna profit of me and i get nothing?
by: Anonymous

At the end of the day its about marketing ..your clients don't really care about science terms...80% of your clients want to loose weight.If you already have background in athletics
meaning actually playing a sport then you basically know how to train athletes or general population.Its also great to get a mentor or just intern under someone you know thats into fitness if you really don't have that background. You should be a entrepreneur. Why get certified for $1200 plus just to work for some corporation thats gonna milk you for your expertise and pay you nothing for it while they profit off you. Im not certified form NASM or any other but ive played high school, college and professional football.. and now i have my own gym and clientele by me doing my own research and knowing how to market

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scamsm
by: jeff diaz

These people are liars and nasm is a fake, terrible experience and rude personal, I would never use this for CPT training, their software is designed for failure, their "coaches" are worthless and nasm sucks....

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Outraged with nasm
by: Anonymous

Apparently this company is all about sales. that's it in a nut shell, bottom line. I became disillusioned after purchasing a nasm package and reading these online reviews from many sites that claim they are overpriced and a scam. I would have to say I agree after being exposed to their content which is boring and needlessly difficult with all the scientific terms that nobody I know in the professional trainer realm uses or have heard use. People want straight forward answers not medical jargon that's made to make the personal trainer sound impressed with themselves. Seriously?? I became even more disgusted after reading a chapter on client acquisition and consultations. The information clearly pushes sales to no avail, and even promotes attacking clients passive-aggressively who object strongly to a personal training package. How tasteless is that? Very disappointed with nasm, will check with school on refund or transfer to new PT program since it's early in the semester.

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