Personal Training Q&A’s

Looking for some info on NASM and my journey to becoming a personal trainer? Well then you’ve come to the right place!

Here are some previous NASM & Personal Training Posts…

And here are some Q&A’s to some of the most popular questions I receive:

‘Why NASM?’ Q&A’s


How was your experience studying for NASM? Do you feel like the textbook and online education materials prepared you to really go out and train clients?

My experience with NASM was great, and you’re right in the sense that it is definitely more science based. I would say with 100% certainty that the online study materials helped a ton, and they were AWESOME in preparing for the exam. Honestly, I didn’t even open them until I was almost completely finished with studying the book, and I used the online resources mostly for when I was getting ready to study for my exam. What’s great is that you can take them over and over again and the questions change up every time (for the most part). The format is even the same, so when you go to take your exam, the screen will even look similar. The questions are obviously different, but it was nice to get a heads up on the types of questions and different wording that is used.
As for them helping me actually train clients? Yes, but not 100%. As it is with any job (I often think back to when I was student teaching in college for my education degree), you can only learn so much until you’re actually thrown to the wolves. I definitely had a foundation of knowledge, but for only being in the field a little over three months, I’ve already gained so much more from just being there and learning from others along the way.

What factors did you consider when selecting the NASM certification? Did you consider any other certifications and if so, what made NASM your choice?

When I was first deciding whether or not this was the path I wanted to take, I did a little research at the local gyms in my area to see which certifications were most widely accepted. After inquiring both at gyms and with some others of you out there, I finally decided to get my certification through NASM.

I had previously heard many good things about NASM, and was even able to get my hands on an actual textbook before ordering my own to see whether or not it was right for me. From what I’m told, this certification is a little more science-based than some others out there, but since I’ve never really looked at the others, I’m not totally sure? (Perhaps someone else out there can help weigh in on this one?)

How do you deal with clients that can be pushy/demanding/mean? Do you send them to another trainer or do you make their workouts even harder?

I’m pretty lucky – all of my clients have been very easy to work with!

Studying/Test Prep Q&A’s


Do you have any recommendations in terms of studying or anything that helped make it easier/more efficient for you?

Yes! I made flash cards for each chapter and grouped those using key rings that I purchased from Target. This made studying a whole lot easier, especially since the amount of flashcards I ended up with in the end was a little outrageous. For some chapters, I found it easier to just write notes out (plus I ran out of index cards), so I also had a notebook as well. Both were extremely helpful.

I took the online practice quizzes and tests…A LOT. I didn’t end up utilizing these resources (which are available to you through the NASM website once you purchase your materials) until the last couple of weeks, but that worked for me. The great thing about them is that you can take them over and over, and the questions will vary each time. It’s a great way to get familiar with the material and test format.

How many hours per day/per week do you think you studied before the test?

I spent about 3 1/2 months studying for my NASM exam. Because of my personality and how I learn, I’d say that I probably learned more in the last two weeks of studying than I did throughout the whole 3 1/2 months. I’ve always been a “crammer” and it just seems to stick with me better that way. I tried to work for at least an hour, 4-5 days a week.


I went ahead and got my NASM PT book (so excited, a little nervous). I wanted to ask you if there is anything in particular I should focus my studying on?

Congrats on ordering your book! That’s so exciting (and I get ya on the nervous part too). Out of the entire book, I’d say that the things I focused on the most were: the muscles and their primary function (chapter 4), the chart on page 169 (it WILL be on the test!), chapters 12 (resistance training), and definitely chapter 13 (program design – you’ll want to know the goals and acute variables of each phase). Also, be familiar with the different exercises that are in the flexibility, core, balance, reactive, and SAQ chapters.

Does getting your personal training certification only involve studying and taking a test?

Technically, yes. I studied, arranged for my test date, got my CPR/AED certification, and then took my test. NASM Does offer an optional live workshop, but I did not opt for that since there were no workshops in my area.

Getting a Job as a Personal Trainer Q&A’s


Have you found the job market to be growing?

Well, that’s a tough call since I really only work in one spot. I know that my gym is not currently hiring anyone new, but from what I’ve been reading, it appears as though there is somewhat of a rise in demand for personal trainers, as there’s beginning to be more and more of a focus on health and fitness. Yippee!!

Did you find it difficult to get hired on at a gym right away? About how long did it take you to actually find a training job after getting certified?

I was very lucky in the sense that I already sort of had my foot in the door before I even began studying. I ended up talking to another trainer one morning at my gym about my thoughts on beginning the process. He let me borrow his book for a few weeks to make sure it was something I wanted to proceed with. Once I made the decision, I continued to keep in touch with him throughout my studying and by the time I had finished and passed my exam, I was offered a job. He said that he truly appreciated and admired how hard I had worked at getting my certification and he saw that as a good indicator of how I’d be as a trainer; perseverance totally pays off!

General Personal Training Q&A’s



I’m a very extroverted person and love working with people and helping them-do you feel like this is a rewarding job in those terms?

Absolutely, 100%. The main reason I loved teaching so much was because it was such a rewarding experience; you help someone learn something and then you continue to watch them grow. Even though it’s an entirely different setting, the foundation for helping others is still there; I’m still teaching them something and helping them learn, and then I get to watch them grow…or shrink. Winking smile

Do you have to find your own clients or does your gym have training coordinators who set you up with them?

A little bit of both. We have a person at my gym who coordinates many of the fitness assessments with members. From there, if the member is interested in training, he’ll try to match up the member with the trainer that would best fit his/her needs. I also have to find my own clients, which I’ve done, but I’m still working on the “selling” aspect. It’s not my strong suit!

Do you get paid by the number of clients, or do you get paid salary?

The salary of a personal trainer, from what I’ve experienced, can be a little tricky and can vary a lot depending on where you work. For me, when I first started at my gym, I was paid a flat, hourly rate. I did not get extra for my clients during this time, only the hourly rate. After my first 3 months were up, I began getting paid on a client-by-client basis, not salary. With working at the gym, I make 50% of what the client is charged (the other 50% goes to the gym), but I know this isn’t always the case everywhere you look.
Honestly, the pay is low to start. It’s definitely a process to build your clientele and it takes some time. I’m still working on it! So I’d say that if it’s something you’re considering, then make sure that you have another sort of income as well. I don’t say that to discourage anyone, but it’s just definitely something I think someone who is considering going into the field should know.

How long are your training sessions?

Most training sessions are one hour, but some clients prefer to break them up into half hours, which is something that we discuss together.

Do you ever regret or miss teaching?

Regret it? Not once. Ever.

Miss it? Sometimes. I always enjoyed working with children and the satisfaction you get from teaching someone how to do something and then finally seeing him/her succeed. In a way, I’m still sort of getting that satisfaction, just in a different setting. Maybe now I just have to figure out a way to incorporate kids again?

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Linda May 4, 2012 at 9:42 am

I LOVE this Courtney and fits in with my life goals – thank you for sharing!


2 Jen Correa @ Mom's Gotta Run May 4, 2012 at 10:27 am

THANK YOU SO MUCH for this post! I am currently studying for ACE certification. Prior to starting, I was desperate for information on the process. This is extremely helpful. Thank you again! You will likely hear from me with some additional questions throughout my process. Hope you don’t mind. :)
Jen Correa @ Mom’s Gotta Run recently posted..Going to the Next Level


3 Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance May 4, 2012 at 11:04 am

Yesss! Love the new page– Nice work repping our NASM pride ;)
Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance recently posted..Milking Miami


4 kaylie May 4, 2012 at 12:40 pm

This is awesome! Im certified through NASM too and I loved the program! Im so happy for you that you found s career that you seem so passionate about!
kaylie recently posted..I Just Never Knew


5 Patty May 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm

You mentioned at the end of your Q & A that you miss working with kids. Something you may be able to give a try in the future is running a summer workshop. The personally trainer I work with mentioned that he runs a few general workshops during the summer to help kids get ready to play sports.


6 Courtney May 7, 2012 at 10:54 pm

That would be so much fun!!


7 sherice@foodieluvsfitness May 8, 2012 at 12:50 am

I too will be getting my cert through NASM soon and this has really helped me. Thanks :)


8 Julie May 19, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Thanks for sharing, Courtney! I’m glad we got a chance to talk about NASM a little at Blend — I’m finally purchasing my materials today! :-)
Julie recently posted..BLEND Retreat Recap Part II


9 Courtney May 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm

YAY! That’s awesome, Julie!


10 Katie June 19, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Thanks so much for the clear cut answers & honesty! I’m considering NASM & am warming up to “biting the bullet” to purchase the materials. Your information helped a lot! Thank you again!
Katie recently posted..Wine-Free Weekend


11 Melissa August 2, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Your post has helped me so much! I have been really wanting to get into some type of fitness/nutrition field as a career. NASM is one certification I have been very drawn to. Are you currently working in the gym along with ALSO providing your online personal training programs to generate extra income?? I would love to be able to do personal training/nutrition consultations thru the internet or out of my home or a client’s home. Do you enjoy the online side of your personal training? Does it earn you as much income as being in the gym training?? Can you offer any tips?? :)


12 Courtney August 2, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Yep! I work both, and I LOVE doing online personal training! The income is always going to vary though, depending on how many clients you have, so it’s too hard to tell :)
I will say though, that it was very helpful for me to have already been working in a gym when I decided to do online training because I have so many more resources now! Good luck!


13 Melissa August 2, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Thank you! I am definitely going to be a new follower of your blog :)


14 Christin@christinjoyful October 30, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Thanks for sharing this!! I decided after a lot of thought to go ahead with becoming a CPT…and was debating back and forth on NASM versus ACE…I think i’ll end up going with NASM based on this info (and plently of other info from other sources) But this helped! :)
Christin@christinjoyful recently posted..What does balance mean to me? Part 1


15 Felicia Parnel October 31, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Hi, you mentioned that when you studied for NASM you make flashcards, how did you know what information to put on them? Did you pick our key words?


16 Courtney October 31, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Most of my cards were the keywords that were highlighted along the sides of the pages. Others were things that I just sort of guessed on, were in the study guide (found online), or things I would want to know for future reference anyways.
Basically, I had a TON of flashcards ;)


17 Bethany December 14, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Thank you thank you thank you for posting this!! Super helpful. I’m in the process of studying for my test and you answered all the questions that google has failed me on!


18 ludwig February 27, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Hi courtney, im starting study for NASM exam, I will take it on next June, there is any advise for this test??? Thank you.


19 Courtney February 27, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Most of the items I would suggest taking extra time for are listed above in the post. Good luck :)


20 Sherry June 25, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Thanks for the info. Have be planning to do this for sometime and you helped me make my decision. I’m going for it! :)


21 Erin February 23, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Great information! I’m also an NASM-CPT and agree with a lot of what you’re saying about practical experience as compared to studying for the exam.
Awesome site! :)


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