Hello and welcome to my review of the NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist program! This review is based on my experience taking, passing and using the NASM CES, including my knowledge as a certified personal trainer for over 10 years.
The PTPioneer group of contributors includes several fitness professionals certified through NASM and many of the other main organizations, and together we bring you the ultimate review of the corrective exercise specialization from NASM.
Once you have read this article, you will know if this Corrective Exercise Specialist program is optimal for your future in the fitness industry!
In this article, we will be covering these topics:
- Organization info: pricing, packages, prerequisites
- Program and textbook quality
- How does the NASM CES compare to other corrective exercise programs
I also recommend that you consider your personal training certification options. To figure out which CPT is best for you, take this quiz.
Let’s jump in and see how the CES stacks up!
What is the NASM CES?
The NASM CES is a popular corrective exercise specialization from the NASM organization. It is one of many NASM specializations and NASM specialty certifications.
Specializing in Corrective Exercise is a reliable way to increase your earning potential and help reduce your clients’ risk of injury.
On average, personal trainers with a NASM CES cert will earn 26% more than others. That’s not a bad statistic for a program that can be used for recertification alone.
Corrective Exercise Specialists are known for their ability to help people move, feel, and live better. The Corrective Exercise Specialization looks to correct imbalances and dysfunction that exist in clients.
The CES program is done through an online e-learning portal, and this study method is tried and true with NASM.
The curriculum for NASM’s corrective exercise cert is split into four sections:
- Introduction to Corrective Exercise Training
- Corrective Exercise Techniques
- Programming Strategies
NASM CES General Information
- Study program cost: $449 – $1,199
- Prerequisites/Recommendations: NASM CPT cert, other NCCA Accredited Certification, Massage therapy cert, or 4 year college degree
- Exam passing score: 70%
- Average completion time: 3 months
NASM credibility and reputation
NASM stands for The National Academy of Sports Medicine, which has been around for around 34 years. The NASM is one of the best and most well-respected organizations in fitness.
The NASM has well over 1.3 million fitness professionals that have gone through their programs in over 80 countries across the globe.
For a comprehensive breakdown of the top CPTs in the fitness industry, check out my in-depth review of the best personal trainer certifications.
They are well known for their NASM CPT certification and their variety of many different specializations for trainers and other health professionals. These can vary from corrective exercise to nutrition courses, youth exercise, group exercise, wellness and more.
These specializations and many other courses for NASM all may count as Continuing Education Units for fitness professionals to use for recertification. They also offer more obscure courses–anything from women’s fitness to MMA conditioning.
You do not have to be a certified professional with NASM to utilize these continuing education credits; you can also be certified through other organizations.
Let’s look at more specifics on the CES certification from NASM.
Is the NASM CES worth it?
Yes, the NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist is worth it, for both trainers looking to learn about how to prevent injuries in their clients, and for those looking for a good specialization to count towards recertification.
Almost any person you encounter as a trainer will have some sort of movement dysfunction, muscle imbalances, and fixing these issues can be the difference between a client who can achieve their goals and one who is stuck constantly dealing with injuries and body problems.
I highly recommend that any trainer spend some time learning about corrective exercise, because of the benefits.
A comprehensive assessment of an individual’s injury or body problem should be conducted to determine the best corrective exercise plan, as this will help to ensure that the individual is able to safely and effectively reach their fitness goals.
- Best corrective exercise certification/specialization
- The new update to text adds to the quality
- NASM OPT model is one of the best training models
- Chapter-to-chapter material separated well
- Pretty expensive for a specialization
- Could include behavior change information prevent in personal training certs
NASM vs. other top corrective exercise certifications
NASM is well known for its corrective exercise coverage and the NASM CES is no exception. This is an excellent program. However, ISSA also provides their highly-rated ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist Certification.
The main benefit ISSA has over NASM comes from the fact that it’s a full NCCA-accredited certification whereas NASM’s CES is technically just a specialization.
The ISSA CES is also a newer program and even though it is a full cert, it doesn’t have the same clout as the NASM CES.
I like both of these programs. You can check out my ISSA CES review for more information if you’re curious about it.
Who is the certification meant for?
A corrective exercise specialist aims to help people move better in all aspects of life. The corrective exercise specialists can program more efficient and more effective workouts, finding ways to change the lives of their clients.
Achieving this specialization will allow you to broaden your client potential and also help to keep your current clients.
Clients who work out with corrective exercise specialists will be able to recover more quickly from their workouts and meet their fitness and movement goals more efficiently.
The NASM CES is a wonderful way to expand your fitness expertise and help clients fundamentally. There’s also the amazing benefit of recertification with NASM Continuing Education Units and completion of this program.
The increase in earning potential is the main benefit of this specialization. This increase in earning potential is due to the skills learned in fixing muscular imbalances and working with more individualized programming with clients.
A CES can modify a client’s program to decrease any muscular issues and dysfunctions they may have. You can help them progress to increase performance results without injuries.
On average, a CES trainer is likely to make 26% more than a personal trainer without the course, and it should be evident as to why.
Note that this is not a physical therapist degree, so make sure to stay within your scope of practice as a fitness professional. You cannot diagnose a condition or give directives in regards to injuries. You cannot offer treatment for physical injuries; your services are there to help prevent them, or assist with corrective exercise after someone has been released from treatments by their physical therapist.
This could be a helpful specialization for other types of health workers to help service clients, like a chiropractor or massage therapist.
- Personal trainers wanting to learn about corrective exercise
- Massage therapists or other fitness professionals
- Physical therapists or someone wanting to learn physical therapy
NASM-CES course costs and options
NASM offers two packages for people to choose from when going for this specialization. Both packages award 1.9 CEU credits with NASM.
The one negative I would like to point out is that the specialization does not award the learner with enough credits to recertify with NASM, but it does with outside organizations.
At that price, it is odd that they leave you requiring 0.1 more CEUs when they are the certifying organization. So, a slight negative due to pricing and hours to complete.
CES Self-Study Package
The first package from NASM is the Self-study package, with an $899 base price. It is often on sale for $449. This is a good deal for one of the best fitness specializations in the industry.
Included in this package is quite a bit of material. The digital course content (which serves as the textbook), learning videos, coaching demonstrations, advanced video animations, quizzes, online practice exams, and online final exams.
This is a good amount of material and, honestly, the equivalent of a personal training certification when you break down the text and the whole package.
CES Premium Self-Study Package
This package starts at a base price of $1,199 and is often on sale for $599. This is still an amazing deal for a lifetime specialization.
This package adds to the self-study package. It includes the previous materials: the digital course content, learning videos, coaching demonstrations, advanced video animations, quizzes, online practice exams, and online final exams.
The new additions to this package are the 16 audio lectures, six webinars, biodigital models, a study schedule, and an exam study guide.
So, for $150 more (when at normal sale price), you will get a lot of added study resources. This is probably optimal for someone coming from outside of NASM that isn’t familiar with all of the quirks of NASM.
The NASM CES presents these two study programs for specialization. They are both great, but it is doable without paying so much if someone only desires to do the course for recertification.
But, for individuals that wish to get a great specialization that will benefit their fitness career, the NASM CES is well-priced for what comes with it.
If you want a hard copy version of the NASM CES textbook, it can be purchased separately through NASM for $199.
NASM also offers a virtual corrective exercise workshop taught by a corrective exercise master for $299.
There are also payment plans available for these courses and, with a simple credit check, you can do free-financing.
There is a lot of material to unpack in the content coverage of the cert, and we will be going over that in the next section.
NASM CES course layout
Let’s look at this certification and the content coverage based on the categories of exercise science foundations, exercise technique, client assessment, movement assessment, and programming.
The exam content is broken up into four domains of NASM study, and 18 chapters are split up throughout the domains.
Let’s take a look at each of these domains.
Domain 1: Introduction to Corrective Exercise Training
- Chapter 1: Rationale for Corrective Exercise
- Chapter 2: Human Movement Science and Corrective Exercise
Domain 2: Corrective Exercise Techniques
- Chapter 3: Inhibitory Techniques
- Chapter 4: Lengthening Techniques
- Chapter 5: Activation Techniques
- Chapter 6: Integration Techniques
Domain 3: Assessment
- Chapter 7: Client Intake and Assessment
- Chapter 8: Static Assessments
- Chapter 9: Movement Assessments
- Chapter 10: Mobility Assessments
Domain 4: Programming Strategies
- Chapter 11: Corrective Strategies for the Foot and Ankle
- Chapter 12: Corrective Strategies for the Knee
- Chapter 13: Corrective Strategies for the Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex
- Chapter 14: Corrective Strategies for the Thoracic Spine and Shoulder
- Chapter 15: Corrective Strategies for the Wrist and Elbow
- Chapter 16: Corrective Strategies for the Cervical Spine
- Chapter 17: Self-Care and Recovery
- Chapter 18: Real-World Application of Corrective Exercise Strategies
The webinars cover each of the corrective strategies for each body part. It is an effective and helpful way to nail down the corrective exercising programming topics for each body area.
Let’s break down each of these categories we rank for.
Exercise Science Foundations
This is the weakest of the categories, but it is not as big a deal as one would think.
There are few dedicated chapters to the basics of exercise, unlike some other fitness specializations in the industry. This lack of emphasis is likely due to the recommendations that NASM puts out there (like already having CPT which would cover this).
It makes sense that it doesn’t receive a major focus, as the main base of users will be people with extensive experience and knowledge within the industry, in the same way that motivation tips and strength training are not the prime focus of this specialization.
Taking that into account, the NASM CES handles exercise science to the expected degree. Chapters 1 and 2 provide a solid intro to exercise and corrective exercise, which are the main foundations of the techniques and rationale.
So, in essence, you are expected to have a good amount of knowledge in the realm of kinesiology, anatomy, and biomechanics before entering this specialization. This also applies to things like behavior change.
From there, the NASM CES does a good job of expanding on the core knowledge already known by trainers and fitness/health professionals based on the research. They apply this knowledge throughout each of the following categories.
Exercise technique focuses on corrective exercises and the NASM methodology for implementing these corrections.
NASM breaks down the corrective exercise techniques into four phases, allowing problems to be fixed.
The name of this process created by NASM is the Corrective Exercise Continuum.
The Corrective Exercise Continuum is the main feature of this NASM cert, like how the OPT model for training is the main feature of their CPT certification and CSCS certs.
The Corrective Exercise Continuum is broken down into four steps that form the template you go through with clients.
Step 1 is Inhibiting the affected area through the use of myofascial rolling. This is essential as the first step, and the online course does an excellent job of teaching the different methods to do so.
Step 2 is to Lengthen the muscles/areas, and this is through many well-described modalities of flexibility training.
Step 3 involves the Activation of the muscles through the use of isolated strengthening techniques. And finally, Step 4 is Integration through the process they call Integrated Dynamic Movement. This brings it all together; hopefully, the result will be fixing the underlying issues.
Altogether, we have four concrete steps to help clients fix their existing injuries, dysfunctions, imbalances within the muscle groups of the body. The steps flow perfectly, making the program design simple for new corrective exercise specialists.
All of the corrective exercise implementations that follow later in the text follow this basic layout. The guidelines in place by NASM are helpful, and the charts and tables allow for the easiest studying of this material.
The Corrective Exercise Continuum and its use sets apart a corrective exercise specialist from a personal trainer trying to correct problems or a strength and conditioning coach working on performance training. This gives a framework for trainers to correct and workout issues that are found.
They also do an excellent job teaching the movements and progressions expected with this type of certification, increasing your corrective abilities so you can work with everyone and anyone in your sessions.
The assessment of clients is done well, as chapters pay attention to assessments before exercise and during a program.
In this section, before the exercise, there is one chapter that involves client intake and assessing the information you receive.
With this learning, you create individualized programs that tackle and use the techniques through the corrective exercise technique sections.
I believe that the assessment process of clients is another area that NASM has tackled perfectly. There is little room for improvement, as it is well executed in the NASM example.
There are three chapters to cover regarding the assessments of the body, specifically movement. Chapters 8 – 10 all go over these essential sections for corrective exercise.
A great array of static, movement, and mobility/stability assessments are covered in great detail. This section also features the most videos, printable handouts, and knowledge checks of any domain.
This means that you will be certain to nail down the materials held in this domain with the vast array of study materials.
Assessment of the clients is the most critical area for a corrective exercise cert, as this is the start of any program being designed. You can’t perform program corrective exercises properly without accurately assessing the potential issues.
For that, it makes sense that this section has the greatest amount of video and infographics to study and get as close to hands-on as possible.
Learners should have no problem mastering the basics of the beginning of corrective exercise program design dealing with motion restrictions.
Programming strategies is the largest portion of the textbook and perhaps the most in-depth look at the body parts and how they relate to movement.
Within this domain, NASM devotes six chapters to separate checkpoints of the body. You are able to understand the kinetic chain and how all parts of the body control other parts. This goes way beyond the simple posture tools you find in many fitness certifications.
The kinetic chain checkpoints that are broken down are:
- Foot and Ankle
- Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex
- Thoracic Spine and Shoulder
- Cervical Spine
The usual five are touched on in this program, but they also focus on one that we don’t see as much: the wrist and elbow. This makes sense as there are a lot of potential issues and uses for these joints, too.
These are the primary body sections that are focused on, and each chapter thoroughly explains the common injuries and preventative strategies in amazing detail.
Once the common injuries are detailed, they do an incredible job detailing how and where this may affect the other kinetic checkpoints of the body.
This section is perhaps more comprehensive than any other corrective exercise certification in the industry and strikes a good balance between being informative and easy to understand. This way, you can improve a client’s mobility, not just their physique.
But even a good bodybuilding coach needs to know correct programming to keep their athletes healthy.
NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist exam prep and study materials
NASM has by far the best study aids of any certification organization. There is an endless range of lectures, downloads, videos, audio guides, and other study materials that you have access to on their online portal.
In addition, the content that is on the website looks new and well polished and the navigation flows well.
My personal favorite way to study is just through reading the textbook and making my own notes to study from, but I think most people like using the online portal tools because of ease-of-use.
Each chapter has quizzes to help you prepare for the exam. My only gripe would be that I wish each of these quizzes had a higher quantity of questions. Some of them are just a few and I’d prefer more assistance, maybe 10 at the end of each chapter, to really test the full understanding of the material.
NASM Corrective Exercise requirements
There are no official requirements to take the NASM CES, but it is recommended that candidates for this program have at least one of these things:
- NASM Personal Trainer Certification
- Certification for Massage Therapy
- A Health or Fitness Certification accredited by NCCA, NBFE, or DETC
- 4-year college degree or higher
- REP’s Level 3 or higher
Also, most fitness certifications do require the participant to be 18 or older, have a high school diploma, and current CPR/AED certification.
NASM CES salary
According to ZipRecruiter, the average NASM CES makes around $55,725 a year in the US. This is higher than the national average for NASM trainers, and if you have both a CPT and a CES, your earnings potential definitely goes up.
Take it from me, being able to help someone reach a fitness goal in the gym is one thing, but helping someone not be in pain is something completely different.
As long as you stay within scope of practice, you can help a lot of people move better and increase your income with corrective exercise knowledge and take a more well rounded approach to helping clients.
Make sure to be patient, as everyone takes time to develop their practice.
Taking the NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist exam
You can take the final exam upon completion of the course. This exam is unique, as you are free to take the test at home or whatever location you prefer to take the exam.
In total, it is a 100 question multiple-choice exam. The test-taker has 90 minutes to complete the exam.
To complete this specialization exam, you must get 70% or better and answer 70 questions correctly.
But, even if it is a challenging exam, you get a total of 3 times to pass. So, it should be easily passable within those three attempts. If you fail once, study some more and take it again. Get the reps in and you will be fine.
Exam prep is easy for this credential. Just about everything is included in the study packages they sell. The online courses included practice tests, lecture videos, and many materials.
It could be a good idea to use our flashcards and study materials offered for free here on PTPioneer.
NASM Corrective Exercise continuing education and recertification
Because the NASM CES isn’t a full certification, it does not require CEUs to recertify. NASM does; however, have a number of great courses that can give you continuing education credits back towards your CPT. The fees for these act to both help recertify your CPT and give you extra credentials to add to your resume.
Maybe you want to teach classes or learn the secrets of strength and conditioning. NASM also has some great course bundles, with their Elite Trainer Bundle.
Other NASM offerings
- NASM Group Exercise Instructor (AFAA-GEI)
- NASM Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM-CNC)
- NASM Weight Loss Specialist (NASM-WLS)
- NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist (NASM-PES)
- NASM Personal Training Certification (NASM-CPT)
NASM Corrective Exercise program overall rating
In my NASM CES review you will learn all about this advanced certification. It is all about fixing muscular imbalances in clients with corrective exercise.
Product Currency: USD
Product Price: 449
Product In-Stock: InStock
- Excellent coverage
- Great study tools
- Well known program
- Higher price
- Technically not a full certification
- Can't buy exam by itself
In conclusion, this NASM CES certification/specialization is one of the best corrective exercise programs and possibly one of the most valuable specializations that a trainer could add to their resume.
Without a doubt, a personal trainer can benefit from the materials included in this program, and once achieved, you are almost guaranteed to make more money with fitness training than before.
The NASM CES should be considered the first option for someone who needs to recertify and wishes to add some knowledge and ability for future clients.
Again this could be whether you are a personal trainer, certified massage therapist, or fitness professional of some sort.
The CES truly is a top specialization from a great organization. We would rate the NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist a 9.6/10 overall.
We hope you enjoyed our NASM CES Review. If you would like more reviews and fitness certification information, make sure to bookmark PTPioneer.
NASM CES Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is Corrective Exercise?
This is a technique for addressing and fixing movement compensations, with the overall goal being to improve the quality of one’s movement in workouts and life. It involves looking into and fixing many impairments found in movement.
What does a NASM CES do?
Corrective exercise specialists are experts in the movement of human bodies. They can accurately decipher a person’s movement patterns, find underactive and overactive muscles, and search for compensations in the body. There is also a PES, performance enhancement specialist, and certification.
Where do Corrective Exercise Specialists work?
They may work in various employment areas, like gyms, health clubs, recovery centers, fitness studios, healthcare offices, and sports performance centers; places where fitness activities occur.
Is there an expiration date on the NASM CES?
The certificate for this NASM CES specialization does not expire or require renewal.
Is a Personal Training Certification Required for the NASM CES?
No, but it is recommended. You ideally should have a CPT, accredited fitness certification, college bachelor’s degree, or be a massage therapist.
What is the NASM CES final exam like?
The final exam for this specialization will be one and a half hours and 100 multiple-choice questions. This is a bit less challenging than the NASM CPT exam and training program, which is one of the harder fitness certs.
How many continuing education units is this course worth?
– NASM will award 1.9 CEUs
– ACE will award 2.0 CEUs
– NSCA will award 2.0 CEUs
– CIMPSA will give 10 CPD points
– (check other organizations to see if they support this program)
Can we purchase only the NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist exam?
NASM does not allow the products to be purchased outside of the sold study packages. So, no, it is not possible to purchase only the exam.