NASM stands for the National Academy of Sports Medicine and is the company behind one of the most popular Certified Personal Trainer certificates available. I want to be up front and honest: I am a certified CPT through NASM, but I assume you understood this part when you clicked on the "review" link.
When I decided to sign up with NASM it was for several reasons.
1. I wanted thorough training via book and video in regards to physiology, anatomy and more than foundations of personal training.
2. I wanted a certification that was trusted, respected and backed by a reputable company that offered plenty of training. The certification wasn't going to be used so I could help the local senior citizens get healthier, although I admire those who do this! It was basically a way for me to work harder to learn what I needed to learn. I actually had the knowledge through many years of studying physiology, functional anatomy, kinesiology, etc. -- I really wanted to focus on getting a 'credential' to go with it.
So when I was researching NASM I had already knew about their competitors, ACSM and NSCA. In fact, if I had the choice, I would love to get my CSCS, but they require a BS to do so, and as of this writing I do not have that. However, after plenty of reading NASM was the best thing for those in my position (no college).
In fact, I don't understand the whole Bachelors Degree requirement(s) anyway. Who cares if I might have a BS in mathematics or computer science? What does it prove? I intend on getting my BS, but that does bug me a bit. It would be understandable if it required a degree with a focus on healty living, such as physiology, nutrition or something similar, something useful. But I digress.
When I signed up for the CPT I knew I wanted more. I wanted more certifications and decided that I really had a lot of interest in corrective exercises anyway, but performance enhancement was right up my alley, as I do work with athletes and intent on digging more into that area soon.
As of this writing I am have a CPT, CES and PES with NASM. Do I use it? No, but I could if I decided to. I have spoken to a few people who work with athletes and they look for people with a CSCS or a CPT with a PES, which is somewhat similar.
The training provided by NASM is very good, in my honest opinion. I've read the books by NSCA and was more impressed with NASM's collection. I felt that they provided more information that was needed in the real world, but the video training was a major help.
I should also mention that I am considering the PES and CES when discussing the training, as the material provided for these certs are very good. As for the CPT training alone, I loved what I learned. Although I knew a lot of the material, I definitely learned new things. But the key here is that I was forced to really focus on key elements of the book. I had to read over it several times and take plenty of notes. In fact, I also downloaded 2 apps to help ensure that I passed the test.
The book is over 600 pages and is filled with updated research-backed information that helps you understand how the body works, how their training works and even includes plenty of cool things you probably didn't think about, such as flexibility training, human movement science and even things such as bioenergetics and nutrition.
The videos go over everything you read in the book, but the video training helps explain things in more detail. There's also online video training as well, and it appears to cover things that the DVD's do not.
Quizzes are provided with the video training and you are also given practice tests. Take these! These are extremely helpful. They will help you remember the important stuff, allowing your focus to be on things from a macro-view. Once you get the basics down you will then re-focus on the smaller things so you don't get tricked later.
The testing was said to be much harder than most people thought, but they were wrong. It was MUCH harder than they thought. I studied my butt off for 3 weeks straight prior to taking the test and was surprised by how difficult some of the questions were. The key is to focus on each question and come back later if you need to.
They ask difficult questions, but only if you over-think them. The questions are actually (mostly) very easy, but you will need to read them carefully as they try hard to trick you into entering the wrong answer.
Is it Respected?
For sure! The NASM-CPT is respected by just about everybody, as long as you really understand what you're talking about. You need to study beyond NASM books and videos during and after preparing for your test. Read what you can, soak it in and take notes. Understanding physiology, anatomy (functional) and nutrition is going to help you in your career as a personal trainer, not a piece of paper. However, I do believe that NASM's CPT cert is far superior to most other certs out there, with the exception of a few.
But again, it's in the person, not the paper. Study, understand, research, practice on yourself and practice on others. Know that you will make mistakes and it won't be a 2 week journey. If you think you can go from 0 to Hero Personal Trainer in a few months, you're fooling yourself. Learn everything you can! Discuss concepts online or with others. Find a study buddy if needed, but take it serious before thinking people will take you serious.