Want to become a certified personal trainer? Here are ten things I learned after becoming a personal trainer in 2017.
About two years ago, I started toying with the idea of becoming a certified personal trainer. I’d been working with my own trainer and was learning a lot. My body was changing after having my daughter and I enjoyed working out. It was a good time!
For whatever reason, however, I had to quit working out with my trainer and kind of got caught in the cycle again. You know the one. The one where somehow, you go from working out and kicking butt to not doing much at all. (Yeah, you know what I mean.)
I had postpartum depression that, looking back, worsened significantly when I stopped working out.
Eventually I hired another personal trainer, and I remember my return to the gym as a turning point in my decision to become a trainer myself.
One day, I walked into the gym (it was sunny), and I must have slept like a champ because I had so much energy. I just felt so happy to be at the gym and I was just so excited to turn my girl power playlist on and zone out while lifting. Strangely, I felt at peace and thought to myself, “I want to be a personal trainer!”
I felt so strongly about it that while foam rolling before hopping on the treadmill, I texted my husband, “I think I want to become a certified personal trainer!”
Life is funny.
Admittedly, it took me another year to fully commit to the idea. I had weight I still wanted to lose after having my daughter, and I knew I wanted to have another baby some day. On top of that, I did not grow up playing sports or hitting the gym. I was scared, but I knew I had to CHOOSE the personal trainer life. 🙂
Fast forward to today: I’m 8 months pregnant and I just finished my certification about a month ago. So while I won’t be training anyone while I recover, the mission has been accomplished and I’m a certified personal trainer!
While I’m waiting for baby boy to get here in January 2018, I’m using my blog to help me stay on track of my fitness goals and make money online. I think that most personal trainers are missing opportunities if they aren’t using social media or websites to earn money, so that’s why I write about blogging for fitness professionals and blogging in general sometimes. However, I plan to use the blog and my social media accounts to keep me accountable for getting and staying healthy after this baby is born. So stay tuned. 😉
If YOU want to become a certified personal trainer, I have some great tips for you. I wish you the best of luck if that’s something that interests you…and I hope this encourages you in some way!
Ten Tips for the Future Certified Personal Trainer
Note: My observations are based on my experience with NASM, but they should still apply to your program. 🙂
1. If you didn’t study biomechanics or kinesiology in high school or college, it’s going to be a tough course.
Gym speak is not very technical, and even though I went to college, I didn’t know MOST of the scientific names for muscles. You’ll need to learn them up and down.
2. It might take more than one try to pass the test.
I failed my first NASM Certified Personal Trainer exam by ONE point. I cried. That’s okay. I remembered that one of my trainers took the exam THREE times before passing. So I took it again and passed. I don’t tell you this to discourage you – just know that the standards are there for a reason. Learning the concepts well will help you be the best trainer you can be.
3. Paying for the more interactive courses with more features is worth it.
I did the “Premium Self Study” version and it featured a lot of helpful quizzes and interactive learning games. Without it, my comprehension would have lacked. Because who wants to read just a textbook.
4. Don’t mistake memorization for comprehension.
I used over 300 notecards and focused on definitions on my first attempt to become a certified personal trainer. I failed. When I purchased a retest, I reread the ENTIRE textbook. Only the second time, I focused on understanding what I was reading instead of writing down vocabulary words. This played a huge role in my passing score the second time around.
5. Years of college experience may not help you.
I went to five years of college. But it was much different than my experience in taking the course to become a certified personal trainer. Why? Because in college, you get credit for attendance, participation, small quizzes, assignments, etc. Not if you’re trying to get certified as a personal trainer! The exam is comprehensive – meaning that questions could be from anywhere in the textbook. Which is over 700 pages. OH MY. You got this. 😉
6. Reading a textbook won’t replace your experience in the gym.
After I got certified, I felt like I’d learned a lot about assessment, a little about program design, and a lot about muscles. However, I still feel like my time working with my own certified personal trainer and my time in the gym alone is most valuable. It’s going to be a lot of trial and error and you need experience under your belt.
7. Procrastination will lead you to failure.
The NASM textbook is not something you can read in a week or even a month. It’s over 700 pages and since the test is comprehensive, you need to know all of it. I followed the model I was used to from college, scheduling 1-2 chapters of reading per week. With close to twenty chapters, that means you’ll need at least ten weeks to get through the text. But if you’re smart, you’ll leave at least two weeks of study/prep time after you finish the book. Plus, remember to leave time for life, holidays, vacations, etc. Use your six month time limit wisely and don’t wait until it’s too late to get started!
8. Don’t forget your AED/CPR class.
You need to have a current AED/CPR card from a valid organization in order to sit for the NASM exam (and every other certification, I believe). I suggest finding and taking your class 2-3 months before your exam date. I had to cancel my first class and reschedule, then travel for the next one. Since I’m a mom, that involved finding childcare and spending about 5 hours in class or driving. Be prepared!
9. Don’t ignore the indices.
Or indexes, for the rest of us. 🙂 In the back of your textbook, you’ll find a lot of resources, like an exercise library. You’ll need to look over those, and in some cases, know the progressions/regressions, etc. Treat the index like another chapter you need to study. Trust me.
10. Getting certified is just the beginning.
Passing your exam is the first step in getting a job as a certified personal trainer, but it’s only the beginning. A lot of trainers say that they still felt a little “lost” after getting certified. Expect to continue learning with more courses and give yourself a grace period as you “figure it all out” after becoming a trainer.
That’s all for now! Are you an aspiring personal trainer!? Tell me all about your experience below!
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