Since I have decided to become a personal trainer, I thought it would be wise to pick the brain of some other personal trainers out there to glean some insight about the certification process and any helpful insider tips they’d like to share. I also thought that doing interviews on my blog might benefit any other readers out there who have any interest in becoming personal trainers themselves.
I lost 50 pounds a few years ago and became the ‘go to’ person people asked for fitness and nutrition advice. I realized that I loved helping other people reach their goals and I knew from being a college professor that I enjoyed teaching so personal training seemed like the best of both worlds!
2. How did you choose which personal training agency to certify with?
I had friends that worked in the industry and I asked them which certifications were the best to go with. The two I routinely heard were ACSM and NASM. I went with ACSM because it is the one I found my local gyms to prefer, but I have heard that both are the ‘gold standard’ in personal training.
3. How did you prepare for the exam? Any tips, tricks, or best practices?
I studied for the exam for one month. I had taken an anatomy and physiology class for fun a few months prior (because I’m a huge dork) and had a good background already in the nutrition side of things so I was able to prepare in a shorter time than suggested (which is usually at least 3 months.) I purchased the study guides and reviewed them for a few hours a day before and after work. I read through the chapters, created an outline for each one, and flashcards for the major terms/concepts. That took a few weeks and the last week I spent re-reading everything I created until I just couldn’t take seeing it anymore!
4. Could you give me an idea about what the testing day was like?
I lucked out and was able to take my exam at my place of employment (a university.) I arrived at the testing center and they took my purse and cell and sat me at an isolated computer area. The exam was all online and I finished in about half the time allowed. I was beyond nervous and the moment the test was over and I saw that I passed I was elated!
5. I know you are a psychology professor—I was a psych minor myself. I’m interested in how fitness and psychology might meld together. Is there anything you’ve learned about the brain or human behavior/motivations that would help in a personal training setting?
There is SO much overlap between the two fields. I teach a drugs and behavior course where I lecture on how to set SMART goals, a topic covered heavily in the ACSM exam. I also lecture on motivation and learning new behaviors in General Psychology and those concepts of forming new healthy habits are important when trying to engage new clients.
6. How are you using the web/social media to build your online presence as a fitness professional?
I actually started my blog with the idea that I would do in-person Health/Wellness counseling. I envisioned the blog being a way to recruit new clients and I didn’t expect that the blog itself would become the main focus! I now see my PT cert as a way to lend credibility to the writing I do in the health/fitness industry and I’m actually finally starting to work as a trainer locally next month.
7. Any health and fitness resources/research publications that you read daily or recommend? How else do you keep up with PT trends?
Every morning I check out Blisstree, Huffington Post Healthy Living and NPR Health Shots to look at the health news for the day. I love learning about the latest nutrition trends or fitness craze and I’ll save the best articles I come across to share with my followers on twitter throughout the day.
8. These days, there are a variety of places/ways to train—at a studio, in homes, in offices, and even online. What has your personal training experience been like? Or where do you see this certification taking you?
My first experience personal training will start in a few weeks at a local facility. I don’t anticipate ever training clients in their homes. I thought about it and the idea of having to travel and lug the equipment around didn’t appeal to me. I may offer online PT at some point in the future but I really like the idea of doing it face-to-face for now.
9. What are your plans for using your certificate in the future? Any personal training goals for this year?
My primary goal is to start my first PT job and learn as much as I can about the field to best serve my clients! I know what types of workouts I prefer (running, barre, circuit training) and I’m hoping to learn many other types (TRX, spin, …) as I anticipate many clients being interested in things I don’t have an extensive knowledge of (yet!)
10. What advice would you give to someone like me who is just starting out and studying for the CPT exam?
Start early! Set up a specific schedule for how much you’d like to have accomplished in a week and give yourself a bit of extra time still for those weeks where life just gets too hectic to stay on track. Also, spend some time researching online what your specific exam will be like and the experiences others had with taking it.
***Thanks so much for your insight Erica! I plan on using these tips as I head out on my own journey. If you haven’t checked out Erica’s fitness blog yet, you need to!
Stay tuned for the next installment of these Personal Trainer Interviews. My next guest is a local trainer whom I’ve personally trained with and who owns her own studio in town. If you have any other burning questions you’d like answered, let me know and I’ll try to incorporate them into future interviews. Leave a comment here or tweet me @StarBasil.