Become a Personal Trainer


Updated May 16, 2022

How to Become a Personal Trainer

You may sign-up for the ACE Personal Trainer Prep Course or study on your own. An advantage of studying on your own is that you may be able to become a personal trainer quicker than waiting to participate in an ACE Prep Course. You can also select the organization that best fits your needs. Benefits of the ACE Prep Course is that it will hold you accountable to studying; you can complete it online; and if you successfully pass the course, you will be invited to interview to be a Personal Trainer at ASRFC. Read below for details about both options.

ACE Personal Trainer Prep Course

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) Certification Preparation Program prepares students to sit for the ACE Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) exam. With this ACE approved curriculum, offered by KU Recreation Services, students engage in practical application of the materials covered. The course offers both lecture and movement training and applies theory to practice. Upon successful completion of the program, students will demonstrate their knowledge and skills of:

  • Exercise science
  • Fitness assessments
  • Exercise programming
  • Instructional techniques
  • Exercise form and technique
  • Basic nutrition
  • Lifestyle modification

Students enrolled at the University of Kansas in 6 or more credit hours in fall 2022.

  • June 7 to July 29, 2022
  • The course will be offered online.
  • The class will meet virtually once a week for 1-hour (day and time during regular business hours Monday through Friday will be determined based on students who register). 
  • There will be opportunities for in-person labs at ASRFC (or they may be conducted at home if you're unable to  come to campus).

This course is a non-credit, extracurricular opportunity. This is a strenuous and time consuming course, particularly for students who have not yet had specific human science courses, such as anatomy and physiology.  Homework includes chapter quizzes, reflection papers, writing workout programs, and conducting a mock training session.

This course will help you study for the ACE Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) exam by holding you accountable.

This course does not certify you to become an ACE CPT meaning you will not take the exam during the course.  You will take a CPT exam after the ACE Prep Course.

As of May 3, 2022, the course fee of $100 is waived (the Prep Course is now FREE!) and you may checkout a textbook from ASRFC (the required textbook is FREE and must be returned). To obtain the textbook by beginning of the course, please register by May 20th.

You are welcome to purchase your own study materials.  If interested, contact Miranda Kolenda prior to purchasing materials from ACE for a 20% discount.

The required textbook is called The Exercise Professional's Guide to Personal Training.

Note: You are responsible for purchasing the ACE CPT exam. Students who successfully complete the ACE Personal Training Prep Course with a certain grade percentage will be eligible to interview to be a personal trainer for KU Recreation Services immediately after the course. If hired, they may begin to train clients (saving money for the exam) and have six months from the date of hire to pass a certified personal trainer NCCA accredited exam to continue training clients.

  • Registration opened April 1, 2022 and closes on June 5, 2022.
  • To obtain the textbook by beginning of the course, please register by May 20th.
  • Available to the first 15 registrants.
  • Register in the Admin Office at ASRFC Monday-Friday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm OR
  • Online at the Rec Store then click “Specialty Classes [Programs]”. On the left side select “Summer 2022” and “Specialty Classes (Programs)”. 

The next course is tentatively scheduled for spring 2023.

Contact Miranda Kolenda, Assistant Director of Fitness and Wellness.

Studying on Your Own

  1. Decide which organization to obtain your Certified Personal Trainer certification through. 
    • The Certified Personal Trainer exam must be accredited by the NCCA such as ACSM, NSCA, ACE, or NASM (details about these organizations are provided below).
    • Consider your career goals and what your interests are.  Then select an organization that best fits your needs.
    • Most of the organizations listed below offer study programs or the ability to purchase materials individually.  What best fits your study needs and budget?
  2. Email Miranda Kolenda with any questions or to discuss further.
  3. Purchase study materials.
  4. Study
    • Consider the date you'd like to take the exam and determine how many chapters you'll need to study each week to take the exam by your desired date.  Is the number of chapters you're studying realistic each week? 
    • To help you hold yourself accountable, it may help to actually schedule the date you're going to take your exam.
  5. Pass an NCCA accredited Certified Personal Trainer exam.
  6. Apply to become a personal trainer and interview to be a personal trainer at Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center (ASRFC).

ACE seeks to get people moving worldwide. You may study at your own pace without having to take the ACE Personal Training Prep Course. ACE offers study programs or you may purchase ACE materials individually.  Email Miranda Kolenda to obtain a 20% discount prior to purchasing. Learn more about becoming an ACE Certified Personal Trainer.

NASM provides world-class fitness professionals with the knowledge and tools to transform lives. They help personal trainers, coaches, their clients and anyone with a passion for fitness live healthier and happier lives.  NASM is unique because it provides an online study course and a payment plan.  Learn more about becoming a NASM Certified Personal Trainer.

NSCA is dedicated to advancing the strength and conditioning and related sport science professions around the world.  NSCA offers study packages to help you prepare or you may purchase NSCA-CPT materials individually.  Learn more about becoming a NSCA Certified Personal Trainer. 

For those interested in working with athletes of any age and performance level, NSCA offers a Certified Strength and Condition Specialist (CSCS) certification. Prerequisites include being in your senior year of college or having at least a Bachelor degree.

ACSM advances and integrates scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.  Choose from the ACSM Certified Preparation Course or you may purchase ACSM materials individually.  Learn more about becoming an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer.

ACSM also offers an advanced certification. ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologists take training to an advanced level by conducting and interpreting physical fitness assessments and developing exercise prescriptions for people who are healthy or have medically controlled diseases. Prerequisites include a minimum of a bachelor degree in Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology, or Kinesiology.