The NASM Group Personal Training Specialist is an excellent choice if you plan to coach small groups of 2-10 individuals using a traditional personal training framework.

This NASM GPTS review is based on my experience studying for, and passing the NASM Group Training Specialist Exam.

I have used my experience as a personal trainer for over 10 years using this specialization, along with the NASM Personal Training Certification to build my own business and help clients achieve their fitness goals.

I will cover the following details:

  • Is NASM Group Personal Training Certification worth it?
  • NASM GPTS cost, price, and study materials
  • Overview of the NASM Group Personal Training Specialization content
  • Pros and cons of the NASM GPTS

I also spoke to the PT Pioneer team of experts to get their insights on this course, so we could use our combined knowledge to bring you the best possible NASM review. We’ve counseled many trainers on which certifications lead towards the best career opportunities, and, with years in the fitness industry, we know which certifications employers like to see on a personal trainer’s resume. 

If you need help choosing which certification will be best for you, be sure to take my quiz and see!

What is the NASM Group Personal Training Specialization?

The NASM Group Personal Training Specialization aims to equip fitness professionals with the tools to conduct small group personal training sessions. Often, clients want to train with their friends or can’t afford solo sessions, so providing shared fitness training allows you to coach more people and make more money. NASM’s GPTS (Group Personal Training Specialization) prepares you for this situation. This certification serves as a companion to the NASM Personal Training Certification.

NASM Group Personal Training Specialist

NASM Group Personal Training Specialist

  • Exam cost: $399
  • Study material cost: Included with exam
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Exam passing score: 70%
  • Exam pass rate: Not known
  • Average completion time: 2-4 weeks

NASM credibility and reputation

The  National Academy of Sports Medicine stands out as the premiere fitness certification provider in the world since its inception in 1987, with more certifications and specializations than anyone else.

They’ve certified more than 1.5 million fitness professionals in over 100 countries. NASM also holds partnerships with an extensive list of gyms and several of their certifications actually come with job guarantees, which offers a nice boost when you’re just learning how to become a personal trainer

NASM’s personal training certification is one of the NCCA-accredited certifications, meaning it achieves the highest level of accreditation available and several of NASM’s programs are highly coveted, including their Corrective Exercise Specialization. 

Most of NASM’s certifications are of high quality and each one comes with an online study guide to help prep you for the final exam. 

Great for
  • Personal trainers who want to learn how to coach groups
  • Group exercise instructors who want to learn how to add individualized programming classes
Not Great for
  • People without a personal trainer certification

Is NASM worth it?

Yes, the NASM Group Personal Training Specialization is worth it for personal trainers who want to coach small groups. 

Not only will you learn invaluable techniques for how to conduct sessions and instruct multiple individuals at once, but you will also receive 1.5 continuing education units, which will help you renew your personal trainer certification.

This area of specialization will give you more employment opportunities and at a good price compared to other NASM programs. 

Using this program alongside the best personal training certification for you can lead to tremendous success in the fitness and wellness industry.

4out of 5

Credibility and Reputation4
Study Materials3.5
Cost/Value4
Exam Process4.5

NASM Group Personal Training Specialization vs Other Group NASM credibility and reputation

The NASM GPTS appears unique in that it doesn’t have too much competition in the fitness landscape. There are not a lot of other specializations out there that compare. While other organizations like ACE and ISSA offer Group Fitness Certifications, NASM seems to be alone in producing a “Group Personal Training” certification. Group personal training differs from a group fitness class in several key areas.

A group exercise class typically involves a predetermined format that all the participants follow. Instructors give out modifications for any individuals who cannot perform the listed exercises. However, most people in the class follow the same rigid list of movements.

Group classes often vary from monostructural activities like cycling, boxing, or step class to a mix of styles, like in a CrossFit class. 

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Group personal training offers a highly tailored approach for the individuals who participate in the class, meaning that the fitness professional uses the standard concepts of personal training in a group setting. Groups may consist of 10 or fewer individuals.

This extra fluidity and personal approach typically leads to better fitness results for the clients involved and a lower risk of injury than in the group exercise class approach. Every person has unique fitness levels and mobility restrictions, so trainers get to treat them as individuals instead of lumping everyone together. And because the classes are smaller, you have more time to watch an individual’s form than a large group class. 

Who is NASM Group Personal Training Specialization meant for?

The NASM Group Personal Training Specialization is best used as an adjunct to either a Personal Training Certification or a Group Fitness Instructor Certification.

This means that the GPTS should appeal to either personal trainers who want to learn how to coach multiple individuals at once, or group exercise instructors who want to learn how to add more individualized programming to their classes.

The Group Personal Training Specialization is intended for individuals who already have good fitness fundamentals, so I don’t recommend it for  someone just getting into fitness who doesn’t have a prior certification (although, as there are no prerequisites, you could technically do this).

NASM Group Personal Training Specialization Cost

The NASM Group Personal Training Certification costs $499, although currently it’s on sale for $399. You can also pay for this in 11 payments of $34 with a $25 deposit. This makes the GPTS one of NASM’s cheaper specializations. 

NASM’s discounts fluctuate, so check out the current price for yourself. 

NASM Group Personal Training Specialization review – content coverage

NASM breaks down their Group Personal Training textbook material into 3 sections in their table of contents:

  1. Basics of Group Personal Training
  2. Program Design and Coaching
  3. Building Your Group Training Business

Section 1: Basics of Group Personal Training

Section 1 gives you an introduction to group training. NASM teaches you the basics of how to use their OPT model of periodization in a group setting, along with the benefits of exercising in a group.

You learn the science of the kinetic chain and how to use this in a shared setting. Learning the basics of anatomy and how the movement works in the body gives you a fundamental understanding of human biomechanics you can apply in your coaching. 

The exercise science covered here gives you the minimal amount of information you will need as a group trainer. It’s not as in-depth as the kinesiology content of NASM’s personal training certification. 

Section 2: Program Design and Coaching

Section 2 goes over how to determine exercise selection based on the size of your group. NASM tells you how to avoid common pitfalls of group coaching.

Then you look at how to program different modalities with minimal equipment. In my experience as a group personal trainer, this skill will help you manage the session effectively. For example, if you only have a certain number of free weights or exercise bands, you need to learn how to split them among your trainees so that everyone gets an effective workout.

In my experience, creating circuits with different stations can solve this issue and NASM gives you some more ways to fix this issue. 

NASM covers client assessment and the art of developing a group program.

Knowing how to address and correct your athletes’ mobility or strength imbalances gives you key insights into how to program for them. Using NASM’s OPT model, you can then create a periodized program which can help clients progress from stabilization to strength to power, so they never stagnate in their fitness goals.  

Finally, NASM covers how to coach different sizes of groups, communication strategies, and motivational principles to inspire your clients during workouts.

Communication forms a vital part of your coaching, even more so when you work with multiple clients at once. As a group coach, you juggle the needs of many people at the same time and so you need to be succinct and accurate in the way you speak to each client.

Group dynamics can also change the level of motivation in the room, and you need to confront these as well. If you can get the room hyped, that group energy can take your training to new heights. If a few people start to feel underappreciated or uninterested, the same energy can turn against you as clients’ focus drifts away from conditioning to their daily life chores. 

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Section 3: Building Your Group Training Business

The final section of NASM’s curriculum discusses fundamental marketing strategies to find and hold onto your clients, how to create pricing packaging, and how to find your space in the marketplace. 

These chapters may offer the most value to you because they teach you how to actually make money as a personal trainer. Many certification textbooks do not discuss this integral skill, which I often find frustrating. If you can’t manage your business, or you don’t know how to sell personal training, you won’t be able to use your amazing trainer skill set and change lives for the better. Yet many programs leave this topic out.

NASM does a good job here, and I’m glad they included personal training marketing in their Group Personal Training Specialization. 

Overall, the topics covered in NASM’s Group Personal Training Specialization help you take the next step as a personal trainer. 

NASM Group Personal Training Specialization Exam Prep and Study Materials

We prefer NASM’s study portal over most of the other fitness organizations because of its sleek, streamlined approach.

NASM also holds the largest video library of any certification provider.

However, because the Group Personal Training program is not a full certification, you don’t get the same level of exam study resources as you would with their Personal Training Certification.

You just get the one self-study package option versus the three packages NASM gives with their trainer certification program. This isn’t a deal-breaker though, as you have multiple chances to pass the online final exam. I will explore more of this below. 

Group Personal Training Specialization Requirements

The NASM Group Personal Trainer Specialization does not carry the traditional requirements you need for most personal training certifications. Students don’t need a CPR/AED certification or high school diploma/GED to qualify.

Group Personal Training Specialization Salary

The average NASM Personal Trainer makes $61,014 in the United States, according to ZipRecruiter data. 

If you can coach both individual clients and group sessions, your earning potential goes way up. Therefore, I’d suggest that if you use this program along with your personal training certification, you can earn a much higher income than the average NASM personal trainer salary

You can be training clients individually in the case that they want to workout alone or in a group if they want to work out with their friends. 

Group Personal Training Specialization Final Exam

This specialization will take most individuals 2–4 weeks to complete. You can study at your own pace. 

To pass the NASM GPTS you need to register for the program, complete the self-guided online study materials, and pass the exam. 

The final exam consists of 120 multiple-choice questions which you must complete in 2 hours. You need to achieve a score of 70% or higher to pass.

NASM gives you 3 chances to pass. Unlike the NASM certification exam that requires either an online proctor or a visit to a test center, the GPTS final all happens online from the comfort of your own computer. And once you sign up, you just need to work your way through each online chapter of the textbook before you receive access to the final test. 

I recommend taking notes as you go through each section of the book, so you can quiz yourself on them and make flashcards or hone your skills on a practice test, so you can secure first-time success on the final.

The NASM CPT is not one of the easiest personal training certifications, however the GPTS exam is much less challenging. 

I couldn’t find stats regarding the exam pass rate, but I’d wager it’s pretty high because of the free retakes. In my case, it was not too challenging compared to other certification programs’ exams. 

Group Personal Training Specialization Continuing Education & Recertification

You do not need to recertify. Once you pass the final, you get a lifetime certification. 

The NASM Group Personal Training Specialization gives candidates 1.9 NASM CEUs. 

Other NASM Offerings

NASM offers a wide variety of fitness certifications and specialization courses. These certification courses can give you further credentials to add to your name and continuing education units which help you recertify your current certifications.

Personal trainers with multiple certifications always get an advantage over those with just one cert, because you can separate yourself from the other trainers out there. When someone is in the market for a coach and sees your personal trainer resume stacked up against another qualified candidate, you want to make sure you come out on top.

For this reason, I recommend considering a nutrition certification or further specialization in addition to your CPT. With each offering, you’ll also learn new skills which enhance your training abilities. 

You can even take advantage of NASM’s Elite Trainer program, which gives you four certifications for a discounted rate.

NASM options: 

You can get education credits from other sources besides NASM, but you have to check that the units carry over if you want to renew your current certification.

NASM Group Personal Training Specialization Overall Rating

NASM Group Personal Training Specialization
NASM Group Personal Training Specialization Review  4

The NASM Group Personal Training Specialist is an excellent choice if you plan to coach small groups of 2-10 individuals using a traditional personal training framework.

Product Currency: USD

Product Price: 399

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:
4

Overall, I rate the NASM Group Personal Trainer Specialization 4 out 5. I feel like the content covered is solid, NASM’s stellar reputation gives the program a boost and the cost is reasonable. On the negative side, the NASM GPTS is not a full certification, so it’s best as a supplemental credential in addition to your personal training certificate, rather than as a replacement. 

NASM Group Personal Training Specialization FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How long does it take to pass the NASM Group Personal Training Specialization?

Most people can finish the NASM GPTS in 2-4 weeks; however, you can study at your own pace if you’d like to take more time. NASM accommodates all learning styles as they provide a textbook, a web portal, and excellent videos which you can review for as long as you want. You also get site support as well. 

What’s the difference between group personal training and group exercise classes?

Group personal training involves small groups of up to 10 individuals following a tailor-made exercise program. Group exercise classes usually include up to 50 participants with a predetermined selection of exercises from modalities like yoga, cycling, boxing and more.

Typically, group personal training sessions cost more than an exercise class and requires more expertise from a programming and periodization context. 

Is the NASM Group Personal Training Specialization NCCA accredited?

Given that the NASM GPTS is a fitness specialization rather than a certification, it is not accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. The NASM CPT is NCCA accredited. NCCA stands out as the gold standard accreditation certs can receive; however, there are many highly sought after programs which aren’t approved by the NCCA. 

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read


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