Becoming a Certified Personal Trainer

Becoming a personal trainer has elevated not only my professional career but also my personal development as a health and fitness enthusiast. After getting certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), I have a better appreciation and understanding of how exercise influences not only the musculoskeletal system but every system in the human body. Since attaining this certification I have gained experience with various clients that has led to multiple professional opportunities including positions at a YMCA, private training studio, corporate fitness club, and online training. I am now the Rutgers Fitness & Personal Training coordinator and have made it my goal to educate other aspiring personal trainers.

In 2019 Rutgers Recreation partnered with NASM to offer a personal training prep courses. This course delivers students lectures and guidance to take the NASM CPT exam in a learning-friendly interactive environment. Read this article to know more about starting your journey to obtain a personal training certification and the course that we offer through Rutgers Recreation.

Is a personal training certification right for me?

If you're looking to further your education and credentials in the health & fitness industry, then earning a personal training certification might be your next step!

In order to enter the fitness industry as a personal trainer, strength coach, group exercise instructor, or really any fitness professional, you will ultimately need to hold the certified credentials for that specific position.

The personal training certification allows you to work one-on-one with clients to assist them in reaching their personal health and fitness goals. The certification course and exam affirms that every personal trainer has the knowledge, skills, resources, and abilities necessary to design a safe and effective fitness program within their scope of practice. This is achieved by prescribing aerobic and resistance training programs to a variety of populations.

If you want to:

  • Help people live a healthy lifestyle
  • Teach people what their body is capable of
  • Train athletes to improve their performance and minimize injury risk
  • Work in a motivating movement-centered environment (club gym, private studio, corporate gym, sports complex, community center, remote by phone or web)
  • Have the freedom to work for yourself
  • Enhance your own knowledge of the body, exercise science, and exercise prescription for your own fitness

Then a personal training certification could be the right move for you!

NASM-CPT Prep Course

Rutgers Recreation proudly partners with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). NASM is one of the premier evidence-based certification companies that is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), a nationally recognized third-party agency that helps to ensure certification companies are working at the highest standards.

The Rutgers Recreation Department offers a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) prep course each semester to affiliates and non-affiliates of Rutgers University. This live, 8-10 week course teaches all required components of the NASM-CPT exam in a learning-friendly environment (sometimes virtual and sometimes in-person).

Each class is taught by an experienced Rutgers fitness professional who demonstrates concepts and exercises in an interactive setting. Assigned chapter readings, quizzes, and discussion questions guide the student to best prepare for the NASM-CPT Exam.

What to Expect from the Rutgers Recreation NASM-CPT Prep Course:

  • Weekly interactive lectures built directly from NASM study material and exam content.
  • Exercise, assessment, and movement pattern demonstrations (in-person or online). Breakout discussion groups to facilitate learning.
  • Weekly assigned chapter readings, quizzes, and discussion questions to guide students through the textbook in an organized and comprehensive manner.
  • Connection with the Rutgers Recreation Personal Training Coordinator for discussion, questions, and networking.

Course Price Includes:

  • NAS-CPT Exam
    • NCCA Accredited
  • Weekly Live Lectures
  • All study materials
    • NASM-CPT Textbook, Lecture PowerPoint Slides, Practice Quizzes, Discussion Questions, Online Video Content)
  • One free student re-test offered in the case of a failed exam attempt
    • Normal re-test cost is $200

Read What Past Students Have to Say

“The reason I was so interested in the class was because I’m more of a visual learner so I was excited to get more hands on learning and more review in person rather than just teaching myself the material. The teachers were always available to answer any questions we had and provided links and videos for anything we needed to see visually. I only had to take the test once and I passed! Just 3 months later I got a job as a personal trainer. I’m so thankful for this class it was so helpful and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to become a personal trainer!”

  • Spring 2020 Class Participant

“I liked how the class was small because it made me feel more comfortable to speak and get feedback from the instructor.”

  • Fall 2020 Class Participant

“The instructor was very knowledgeable which made the material much more understandable.”

  • Fall 2020 Class Participant


Are there any prerequisites for the NASM Personal Training Certification?

  • To be eligible for the NASM CPT exam you must:
    • Have a high school degree or GED
    • Hold a current Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) certification
      • These certifications are required to sit for the NASM-CPT exam

Do I need to be CPR/AED certified before I enroll in the NASM Course?

  • You can enroll in the NASM CPT Course without your CPR/AED certification. You just need to have your CPR and AED by the time you sit for the exam.

Do I need to be affiliated with Rutgers to enroll in the prep course?

  • Nope! Anyone can register for the NASM CPT Prep course with Rutgers Recreation. The community is welcome!
  • There is a slight up-charge for nonaffiliates as Rutgers affiliates do already pay a recreation fee
  • ** Rutgers University Alumni are considered non-affiliates as they are not currently enrolled or employed by Rutgers University

Will I receive Rutgers academic credits for this course?

  • No, academic credit is not provided for this course. This course is not affiliated with Rutgers academics, it is simply a resource for our aspiring fitness professionals.
  • Your performance in this course does NOT count towards any Rutgers academics or GPA. The assignments and quizzes are for your own self-improvement and studying. The only grade that matters is the written NASM-CPT exam.

Do I need to have exercise science classes/background to take this course and/or exam?

  • No, an exercise-related degree is not required for this certification.
  • This prep course is designed to educate future fitness professionals to be competent personal trainers. There is a fair amount of anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics required to meet that standard. If you do not have an exercise science related degree then just expect to spend some extra time mastering these domains.

Will I have an opportunity to work for Rutgers Recreation as a Personal Trainer if I pass the exam?

  • The Rutgers Recreation Personal Training Program is always looking for motivated trainers to join the team! The Personal Training coordinator oversees the NASM-CPT Prep Course and offers an interview to all Rutgers students who receive their CPT Certification and express interest in working for the Recreation Department.
  • The Personal Training program is a learning environment in which students make up the majority of personal trainers. Our goal is to provide new personal trainers the experience and education needed for their first job.

Is the exam included in this course?

  • Yes, the exam price is included in the course registration fee.
  • The student, however, does need to schedule their own reservation with a testing site to sit for the exam. The exam is not given within the class lecture-time.
  • All information on scheduling your exam will be reviewed by your instructor

How long do I have to study before sitting for the Exam?

  • You will have 1 year from the start date of the prep course to sit for your exam.
  • This prep course will be completed in 10 weeks but you can decide at any point after when you feel ready to take the exam.
  • Most students take a few weeks after the course to review the material once more thoroughly before sitting for the exam.

For information about the next NASM CPT Prep course offering, visit the Certifications page on the RU Rec Website

All questions can be sent to the Fitness & Personal Training Coordinator, Bethann Wittig, at

Written By: Bethann Wittig, MPH
Rutgers Recreation Fitness & Personal Training Coordinator
RRCA Running Coach; NASM-CPT