ACE vs NASM: A Complete Certification Comparison

ACE vs NASM: A Complete Certification Comparison


Becoming a certified personal trainer is a challenging and fulfilling professional journey. If you are passionate about fitness and motivated by helping others reach peak health, a personal trainer certification is for you. The opportunities to create a lucrative business are better than ever before, with virtual training and E-books available to help grow your career. You can also work in traditional gyms or in your own practice as a certified personal trainer.

Finding the best certification program can make or break your career, so do your research before committing to a comprehensive program. There are thousands of online programs, but only some are nationally recognized and prepare you for an effective start to your career. Consider the factors below if you are comparing ACE vs. NASM certifications, two of the most well-regarded online personal training certification programs.


ACE: ACE provides multiple payment options for their online program, with the most basic option beginning at $599. This Pro Essentials program provides the foundations of personal training with a self-guided study program. This starter package is geared towards those with previous fitness knowledge, or who are specifically interested in a self-guided program. This package can be upgraded to the Pro Advantage program, which includes the Pro Essentials package along with a hard copy of all study materials as well as a certification exam retest voucher.

If you benefit from learning through hard copies and the option to retake your test, this package is appropriate for you. ACE also promotes seasonal deals, such as their current offering of $300 off their certification if you enroll in a time-sensitive period.

NASM: NASM currently offers four options for payments and level of education support in their certification program. The first option is a Self-Study course at $524, with fully online resources including the final exam and libraries of study resources.

The second option, Self-Study Premium at $749, adds memorization activities and flashcard bundles to their self-study offering. The Guided-Study option at $974 brings a personal level to the certification program with the addition of coaches, live workshops, a hard copy textbook, and an Exam Prep Guarantee.

Lastly, the All-Inclusive program option at $1499 adds a retest voucher, a Job Guarantee, a Gymternship experience program, and a NASM Business Accelerator program. Each upgraded program option includes all learning resources from previous options, and NASM also promotes seasonal deals such as their current offering of 25% off each program option.

Methods of Learning

ACE: The learning methods of ACE are largely based on self-study and are geared towards students who require flexible online learning methods. Aside from the option to use a hard copy textbook, your library of resources and study materials are fully online.

The teaching style of ACE is strictly based on test preparation, with the majority of resources including flash cards, study manuals, real test answers, and practice tests. This method of learning is optimal for self-starters, those needing flexible learning hours, and those with prior knowledge of applied personal training.

NASM: NASM offers different levels of learning based on the packages offered. For the self-study options, students can expect fully online resources ranging from flash cards to learning activities designed to mimic real-life training situations. An attractive offering of the NASM program is the option to deepen your learning style with the more comprehensive packages.

Coaching and mentoring are available as options along with live workshops, where students can ask questions in real time based on their personal challenges. The Gymternship program is another unique selling point, giving new personal trainers the experience they need. NASM’s program is best for those looking for a mostly self-study experience supported by help in real time from experts in the field.


ACE: The ACE program focuses largely on teaching information needed to pass the exam and to master the foundations of personal training. These include fitness math, applied exercise, science, and training program development skills. Add-ons are available through the upgraded program for students looking to enhance their skill set.

The Bonus Nutrition course is designed for students looking to integrate nutrition or meal plans into their training programs. The Bonus Business Development course is designed for students looking to begin their own private practice and sell training programs on their own. These upgrade packages are helpful if you need a comprehensive skill set that goes a step beyond passing the test.

NASM: The NASM program foundations are standard to passing the exam as well, with basic exercises science, anatomy, and program development structures included. Additional study materials also cover exercise cues, an exercise library, and more.

NASM students have the option to further their skill sets with the Business Accelerator program, which prepares them for a successful business model and the option to complete their Gymternship in a partner facility. One differentiating aspect of this online course is the option to interact in live workshops, where practice coaching and real-life situations can be simulated to give new trainers an idea of their own coaching styles.


Both ACE and NASM prepare students for successful exam completion in their respective methods, and NASM offers the most comprehensive path to gaining experience in both training and business acumen for graduates. New personal trainers require interpersonal mentorship that goes beyond learning exam questions, and this 1:1 attention sets the NASM program apart from other online coaching programs. Supplemented by their Job Guarantee offer and varied methods of test preparation, NASM goes a few steps further than most traditional online programs to give students a well-rounded approach to training.

The study options cater to different learning styles, ranging from flashcards to live lectures and memorization activities. Taking advantage of the Gymternship can lead to a lucrative entry-level role in established gyms since finding real world experience is difficult in a saturated market of personal trainers. If you are looking for a self-driven online course with the supplementation you need to receive feedback and a guarantee for successful job placement, the NASM online certification program is your most comprehensive option.

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