NASM Weight Loss Specialist Exam + Study tips

A couple of months ago, in my first attempt to beef up my personal training knowledge and certifications, I took the NASM personal training exam. I had been studying for it on and off for quite a while, and in the end, was so glad I took my time with the course. I learned a ton, and was glad to be challenged with one of my passions. You can read more about my experience and study tips in this post. 

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When NASM initially reached out to me, they offered the opportunity to take their Weight Loss Specialist course in exchange for writing about my experience. I was really excited, as weight loss is a common goal among training clients. It’s also something I wanted to touch on in my book, especially when it comes to portion control and intuitive eating. Luckily, those were two huge components of the course.

The Weight Loss Specialist course is all online, including the final exam. You do not have to be personal training certified to take the course, but I waited until I had my new PT cert to take it since it counts for continuing education credits. The text is available in a PDF format, along with video presentations and a quiz for each chapter. The beauty of the course is that you can study in bits and pieces and take the final exam on your own time, at home in your own environment. 


The quality of the text. 

-I especially loved the emphasis on the psychological aspect of weight loss. There was a section on red flags (when you should refer clients to a medical professional) and tips for communication strategies and building motivation.

-There’s also a section on plateaus and various strategies to break them. This can be a frequent occurrence with training clients, and instead of seeing them become frustrated at the plateau, it’s helpful to have a back pocket filled with methods to help them prevent stagnation.

-Easy tips and strategies for portion control, building social support and overcoming barriers to exercise.

Easy to study. If you have internet access, you can read and study. I found the quizzes especially helpful.

Similar to the PT course. While they obviously cover differing topics, some inherently overlap. I found that taking the PT course first set me up for success, especially regarding the fitness assessment chapter. 



-No apps. I really loved using the NASM apps to study for the PT exam. I would have found a WLS app to be helpful, especially since my broken bits of time are not always at home or with a laptop to view large documents. 

-Lots of memorization. I found a larger portion of this course to be focused on memorizing facts (what percentage of overweight Americans are classified as obese?) rather than learning concepts. For the PT test, it was helpful for me to get up and practice certain portions of the text, and for the WLS exam, I had to keep repeating key facts to myself to cement them into memory. 

All in all, I think it’s going to be an extremely helpful tool, especially since I can refer back to the text at any time!

If you’re studying for the WLS exam, here are some of the strategies that were helpful for me:

-Pay attention to the types of questions on the chapter quizzes. While they aren’t exactly the same, the testing style is very similar. 

-Don’t worry too much about making note cards, but write down key statistics and pieces of important info.

-Some topics to emphasize:

BMI ranges that are classified as normal, overweight and obese

Percentage of overweight Americans that are obese

How to calculate BMI

Diabetes types

Common medications and their possible effects on exercise

Fitness assessments (again! wahoo!)

Difference between myocardial infarction and coronary artery disease

Cardio recommendations

Law of thermodynamics

BMR calculations

Do you have a certification or continuing education that you’re currently working towards? What’s one of your big goals for the new year?

The book is due in March, and I’m already trying to figure out my next teaching steps and what I want to do in SD. I’m really interested in barre certifications but have also been found lurking yoga teacher training…. We shall sees what happens πŸ˜‰

Hope you enjoy the rest of your day! I made a little homemade beauty project that will be up on the Fashion page tomorrow.



If you’re interested in becoming NASM certified, here is my contact’s info: Mike Golembewski ( or call 602-383-1263). Let him know that you found him through my blog, and he will help you get set up! He’ll also provide you with a special reader discount. πŸ™‚  He’s great work with, and I have nothing but wonderful things to say about NASM and their programs. 

*In full transparency, my WLS course was complimentary and I received a small discount for my PT certification. I was really excited for the opportunity to work with NASM and improve my certifications! <3


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  1. I’m a certified Bodypump and Piloxing instructor, and I just got my ACE CPT in October. I really want to do more with them rather than teaching a few group fit classes during the week but it’s not an option right now. I’m hoping to do another Les Mills cert this year, if only to get the CEU’s for ACE. I’ve also thought about taking one of the barre seminars through NETA for CEU’s and maybe switching up a class at the Y.

  2. Mary Jane says:

    I’m starting a class tomorrow as a first step towards a career change! Keep the motivation coming … I like to read about ways to be a successful mom, student, wife, etc. while still working full time and finding time to work out. I hope to take a class a semester – maybe 2 if I can swing it!

  3. I am a NASM certified personal trainer AND weight loss specialist as well! I am going to take another course this year, but have not decided which one. Unfortunately, I have not used my certification for my career yet.

  4. Ahhh that’s great–I’m glad to hear your overall impression of the exam was positive. This will be just another thing to add to your credentials, and I think it’s awesome that NASM offers things like this.

  5. great post! I will have to get some continuing education for my NASM certification in the next year or two so the weight loss specialist certification is something I’m definitely considering. Sounds like you’re exploring some fun new teaching possibilities in the future! Have you ever considered personal training along with group training since you have the certification?

    • Fitnessista says:

      yeah, i used to personal train and it’s something i’d like to get back into. i had a few clients when i worked at the resort, but it’s not something i’ve done on a consistent basis in tucson. i enjoy training, but i think i like group fit even more

  6. I received my 220Hour Kunga Yoga certification in 2013, and both ChildLight and OMSchooled Children’s Yoga certifications in 2012. This year I’m working on continuing ed credits and hours taught in both adult and youth yoga and hope to get certified in 5 Elements flow as well as Thai Massage. We have a PCS coming up at some point this year (you’re so lucky you know so far out, the farthest lead time we’ve had in the last 13 years is 7 weeks!) so just trying to keep up the momentum and research teaching opportunities wherever we land next.

    • Fitnessista says:

      that’s amazing!! you’re right. i’ve been wishing that we would have known sooner, but nothing would have helped since the base housing waiting list is 23 months. yikes haha

  7. This is really interesting Gina. Thanks for sharing. I was certified awhile ago but sort of let things slip when I went to law school. I’m interested in brushing up on things again so I appreciate these posts!

  8. I would love to eventually get my NASM certification! Sounds like you had a good experience!

  9. Interesting post! It’s always great to learn about the training options that are out there!

  10. I have actually never heard of this class but it looks great! Glad you were able to get an opportunity to take it!

  11. I do hope you teach fitness classes in San Diego, Gina! The husband and I will be visiting friends in that area over the Summer and I’d LOVE to get my booty handed to me…plus I can guarantee 3 dudes in the class. lol. πŸ™‚

  12. Just wondering if you’ve ever taken a class with Darren Rhodes at Yoga Oasis? As a teacher myself, his alignment cues and energy (not to mention his amazing personal practice) are some of the best I’ve found anywhere…enough so that I’m juggling a homeschooling schedule, teaching and family to drive 7 hours for a weekend workshop in March:)

  13. Gina, if you don’t mind me asking, what part of SD are you moving to?

  14. I also have my Personal Training Certification from NASM, so I’m definitely going to need some continuing education credits. I’m currently in the process of getting their Fitness Nutrition Credential. That’s another one you should look into! I’m for sure going to look into this weight loss one now. Thank you for the review! By the way, the Fitness Nutrition Credential is also completely online. Pretty awesome.

  15. I just signed up and am studying for the NSCA- CSCS (certified strength and conditioning specialists) certification. It took me a while to decide which certification I wanted to go after (I have ACE for group fitness cause it was simple when I was younger). But since I may want to work with professional/college athletes I was advised to get the CSCS. Big goal for the new year? AH figure out life?! LOL post grad issues but actually just trying to enjoy this time in my life where I am not really sure what I am doing/where I am going (in the best way possible of course!)

    • Fitnessista says:

      let me know how you like the course!!! πŸ™‚
      just enjoy. i’m almost 30 and have no idea what i want to be when i grow up πŸ˜‰

    • Hayley, as someone who has had her CSCS for the last 8 years (and ACE CPT), I can tell you it is the best investment with what you want to do!! Having CSCS after your name opens up more doors than you would think, and especially having a membership to the NSCA gives you access to unbelievable amounts of articles, programs, job opportunities, training tips, nutrition info, etc. Seriously girl, if you think you might want to work with athletes and professionals, it is the way to go. And even if you end up deciding you wanted to stick with something like personal training, your CSCS will only add more credit to your name!

      Plus the annual conference that is (mostly) held in Vegas over the summer doesn’t hurt either πŸ˜‰

  16. Professionally, I’m and RN and recently became a Certified Emergency Nurse. Studying for any kind of certification is always overwhelming, but worth it, in the end.

    I always enjoy reading your posts about the fitness/nutrition profession. Its something I’ve always been interested in and would like to take my career in that direction at some point. I think the WLS certification is something that I would really enjoy.

  17. Through your experiences, do you feel that motivation plays an important role in weight loss? You don’t see it mentioned nearly enough in my opinion, which is sad because it really is one of the most crucial things when trying to lose weight. You might know a bunch of exercises, and have your diet all planned out and everything, but if you lose motivation and just go “ahh, I’ll start tomorrow…”, you’re definitely setting yourself up for failure. I don’t know, it just seems like it isn’t talked about enough… I actually wrote a post about how important it is, if anyone wants to check it out they can by clicking here:

    • Fitnessista says:

      i think motivation is a HUGE factor. i’ve done a couple of posts about it, too. it has to come from within. if you want it, you’ll make it happen

  18. I have been toying with the idea of getting certified in group or personal training. I love working out and being active so much I think I would be great at inspiring others but have been hesitant since I don’t really know where to start.

    • Fitnessista says:

      i would decide if you’d rather start out personal training or teaching group fit, and then call any gyms where you’d like to work. they will tell you which certifications they accept, and then go from there! for group fit, i recommend AFAA and for PT, I have NASM but there are a few reputable organizations

  19. I am currently studying for my NASM personal training exam and am so glad i found your post with study tips. I had no idea there was an app we could use to study, def will be using that a lot now!

  20. Awesome recap! I just signed up for yoga teacher training starting next month. I am SO excited! It’s my first leap into finding a way to turn my passion for fitness and health into a career! Thanks for the inspiration πŸ™‚

  21. I am NASAM certified and am doing personal training for clients at my church. I love it. I did the Nutrition Certification in hopes of helping clients with weight loss. Most of the information I already knew, but I did learn some great things about protein and the importance of good carbohydrates and the fact that your body really needs them. I didn’t feel like it gave me information enough though to help my clients with weight loss. Do you think this will be an effective program to really help you implement to help clients lose weight? I was thinking about taking this course next.
    Thanks for the info.

    • Fitnessista says:

      i definitely think so! it gives a lot of helpful advice for the metabolic aspect, and the psychological aspects of weight loss. i can see myself using some of the strategies for interacting with clients and helping them break plateaus.

  22. I am an English/Language Arts teacher and am currently working on adding a Reading teacher license to my certification. I am doing it all online and sometimes it is hard to be motivated to use the computer to do homework/read lectures/complete assignments! However, it must be done, so I do it!

  23. I just registered for my NASM CPT!!!!! I am so excited to get started. My book should be coming in the mail today! After that, I think I want to get my Group Fitness and maybe work towards a Pilates certification. Glad to hear you liked the NASM CPT!

  24. Do you think this is a good cert for someone who doesn’t have a group or PT certification already? I’ve heard it is quite difficult which put fear into me. I really want to personal train & not sure where to start. With all the people asking me for help at my gym, I already have a client base lol.

  25. I just got my materials to study for the ACE group fitness instructor exam. That is one of my big goals. Another is to switch careers from criminal justice to fitness. I’m already a Zumba instructor and I just got my first permanent class! One of my future goals is to get NASM certified as a personal trainer. I love your blog and it’s definitely one of the things that has inspired me to make a switch to a career that makes me happy!

  26. Great info! It’s definitely great to hear about certifications, I never knew there was a weight loss specialist course you could take before a PT certification! Though i’m currently studying for my exam through ACE so it would be optimal to wait it’s great to know the option is there! Thanks for sharing your knowledge your a ‘fitspiration’ to me πŸ˜‰

  27. Gina,
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with this, pros/cons, study tips, and takeaways. I really appreciate the in-depth review and have added this to my list of possible certifications to pursue!

  28. Very cool! I’m a dietetic student (graduating next quarter!!!! Yay!!!!) And based on what you said, it seems like a crash course to the basics of dietetics, which I think is awesome. It gives PT’s the education and ability to give clients sound, maintainable and healthy advice. I’d be interested in doing this cert, even though I’ll be an RD. I’ve seen and heard so many trainers give terrible nutrition advice for weight loss so this seems great

  29. May I know where is the exam center to do the WLS exam?

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