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Back to School with NASM: Unlocking Your Career Potential Through Fitness Education

Kinsey Mahaffey
Kinsey Mahaffey
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Imagine going back to school to learn about something that you are actually passionate about, like health and fitness. Better yet, imagine going back to school to take courses that will not only give you the knowledge that you need to become a personal trainer, but also provide the opportunity to graduate with your certification in hand.

It’s not too good to be true. In fact, National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) has partnered with academic institutions and Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs across the country to provide students with a passion for fitness and health the opportunity to graduate career ready.

Take a look at NASM’s academic resources, including community partnerships, or discover how NASM supports educators.

Empowering Education with NASM Academic Resources

Did you know that NASM provides science-based content for academic health, fitness, and science programs? It’s true! You can earn your NASM Certified Personal Trainer and other credentials while earning your degree or pursuing career and technical education with one of NASM’s Academic Institution partners. No matter where you are in the country, there are online and in-person programs that can help you further your education while earning NASM credentials, all within the same program.

NASM empowers their academic partners by offering extensive resources and tools to use in the classroom as they equip students to become personal trainers. Here are some examples of what NASM provides:

  • Industry-leading curriculum and curriculum mapping, including all of the resources the instructor needs to guide students through the learning process
  • Cutting edge learning platforms
  • The option to stack credentials, allowing students to earn their CPT along with other popular NASM specializations
  • Premium support for instructors

When your academic institution has everything they need to provide an excellent learning experience, everyone wins!

back to school with nasm

NASM provides learning content for a wide variety of educational spaces such as: career and technical education (CET) programs, universities, community colleges, open online courses, vocational schools, and more.

Academic institutions across the nation are becoming NASM Recognized Education Programs (REP), or programs that offer NASM’s industry leading content to help their students prepare to succeed in the fitness space. Students enrolled in an NASM REP can reap the benefits of earning their NASM credentials with top-tier curriculum, application-based learning, and all of the tools that they need to succeed.

Supporting CTE Programs

Not all students choose to advance their learning through a 4-year university. In fact, many seek out career and technical education (CTE) programs that will specifically equip them for their field of choice so that they can enter the work force sooner.

NASM partners with CTE programs across the United States so that students anywhere can receive a great education from the best in the industry. Not only does NASM partner with the CTE programs themselves, but also with organizations (like HOSA and NCHSE) that advocate for CTE student success and ensure that students receive cutting edge education.

Career-Ready High School Graduates: NASM's Contribution

Vocational programs in high schools specifically prepare students for employment after graduation. NASM partners with vocational school programs to help high school students gain the fitness and wellness education that they need to prepare for future certification.

In addition to their regular studies, students in vocational programs have the opportunity to take fitness and wellness courses that will prepare them to take the certification exam upon graduation, meaning that they will graduate ready to take on their new career in fitness.

Benefits of Being Career-Ready in High School

Instead of having to take an additional courses or training after graduation, high school students who graduate career-ready can enter straight into the workforce, ready to succeed. This means lower unemployment rates, less student debt, and an increased ability to support themselves financially. Because these students already have a solid foundation of health and fitness education, they are also able to continue to build upon that foundation with work experience and continued learning as they earn continuing education to maintain their certification.

The Drop in PE: NASM's Lifelong Health Solutions

There is an opportunity among the youth when it comes to physical education and increasing overall physical activity. According to the CDC, in 2017 only 51.7% of high school students attended physical education classes each week, and less than 24% of students between 6-17 years of age met the 60 minutes/day recommendation for physical activity.

In most public-school physical education programs, students are taught how to play different sports and the importance of physical activity, but they might not learn specifics about how to exercise to reach their health goals. The NASM Certified Personal Trainer course specifically equips students with the knowledge and skills that they need to create a fitness plan that is not only tailored to their physical needs, but also to their preferences.

Continuing Your Learning Journey

Students who have decided to pursue higher education can also benefit from NASM’s academic partnerships and science-based content. By choosing one of the academic partners for your formal education, you can earn college credit while you also earn your personal training certification. This means that you could graduate with an advanced degree and a certification that helps you step into the workforce sooner, and with some serious academic accolades.

While it’s not mandatory for personal trainers to have a college degree, employers take notice when potential candidates have taken extra steps to further their education. This can mean more opportunities for you as you begin your fitness career.

Grow Your Career with Formal Education

Formal education combined with NASM certifications can open the door to more career opportunities in the fitness industry. Not only does this type of background look impressive to potential employers, but it also equips you to potentially step out into other aspects of the fitness industry, such as teaching other aspiring trainers and fitness writing.

Both can boost your income as a trainer and make your resume look more appealing to potential clients and employers alike, as you become a leader in the industry. Additionally, trainers with more education can charge premium rates for their services. As you expand your knowledge to better serve your clients, you’re likely to attract clients who are willing to pay top dollar for the level of expertise that you provide.

Final Thoughts

It’s never too late to go back to school, especially with the opportunity to pair your education with NASM’s industry leading curriculum. Being able to earn your NASM credentials while furthering your education and training prepares you for a successful career as a fitness professional. Whether you’re thinking about a formal education or more career-specific learning, NASM has everything that you need to craft a bright future in the industry.

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The Author

Kinsey Mahaffey

Kinsey Mahaffey

Kinsey Mahaffey, MPH, is a Houston-based fitness educator, personal trainer and health coach who developed her commitment to lifelong fitness while playing Division I volleyball. She’s passionate about helping others cultivate a healthy lifestyle and enjoys educating other fitness professionals who share this vision. She’s a Master Instructor and Master Trainer for NASM. You can follow her on LinkedIn here.


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