1. What was the driving force behind your decision to become a personal trainer?
Throughout my life I’ve dipped in and out of different sports, never really staying committed to any of them. Whether it was cheerleading, dance, gymnastics, soccer (didn’t even make it to my first practice haha), basketball (laughed out of tryouts) or track, I was never the most athletic child or even teenager at that but I never had any weight problems. Then my senior year of high school rolled around, and I became very self-conscious about my body. I was a junk food junkie and like I said, not very committed to any physical activity… It started to show. When I went to college I ended up gaining about 20 pounds and I was determined to get it off. I found Tone It Up and their nutrition plan changed my life. I started doing their online workouts and soon I found myself using what I was learning and creating workouts of my own and really enjoying the process of training and being active. I ended up losing 30 pounds and changing not just my body, but my entire life. God so lovingly used my situation in gaining weight to show me what I was passionate about: health, wellness and fitness. Getting my certification was really just the next step in advancing what I was already doing and gave me the ability to share my love with others.
2. How did you choose which personal training agency to certify with?
I asked around at several gyms, trainers I trusted, and did plenty of research. National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) was hands-down the winner for me and I am so thankful that’s the agency I went with. The test is harder than others (so I’ve heard) and I wouldn’t doubt it, because it was certainly a challenge. But I am thankful for the great education I received through it. About 90% of the gyms that I had applied for when I was first searching for a gym to work for asked me if I “had my NASM”, and some told me they wouldn’t hire a trainer if they didn’t. Whew. I highly recommend NASM to anyone looking to get their certification.
3. How did you prepare for the exam? Any tips, tricks, or best practices?
Read. Read. Read. Read. Flashcards. Notes. Repeat. I read my book close to 3 times and had skyscraper-sized piles of flashcards. I didn’t just memorize my flash cards though, I made notes on them about how the term or idea was applicable in real life training in a way that would help me not only remember it but actually know it. NASM has great online supplements like videos and online quizzes that I used also.
4. Did you take a personal training workshop? If so, how did it help you prepare for the exam?
I didn’t take any workshop, but I think it would have a been a great idea. You always learn so much from watching others.
5. I know you are also an actress. I’m interested in how acting and fitness might meld together. Will you be using your acting skills in the fitness world or vice versa?
I find that the two cross over perfectly sometimes. I have to be in good shape for acting and I have to be in great shape for training so that always goes hand-in-hand. I’ve gained a confidence because of personal training that I don’t think I had before and that’s helped me in my career as an actress. The fact that my job as a trainer is so flexible and I am so blessed to be able to work from home creating online plans for my incredible Instagram/Twitter followers is how I’m able to go on auditions whenever they pop up too. The two careers really complement each other and the people I get to work with and meet through both of the industries are awesome.
6. I am a Twitter follower of yours and can see you’ve built quite a following. How are you using the web/social media to build your online presence as a fitness professional?
Thanks for following 🙂 When I first made my Twitter and Instagram accounts, I had no intention of building a following. It was always just a personal account and it still is, but my personal life and professional life aren’t much different. I’ve “met” and developed relationships with the most amazing people through social media and I think that’s how I’ve built the following I have now. Investing in people, talking with them, answering questions and just being passionate about what I do. Nothing is ever forced or a “follow me” competition. I pray everyday that God will use me to spread the glory and love of Jesus Christ and I think that he’s just chosen this platform for me. I can’t take any of the credit honestly. I’m just really grateful for where He’s brought me and the people He has put in my life through social media and outside of it because of fitness.
7. Any health and fitness resources/research publications that you read daily or recommend? How else do you keep up with PT trends?
I wouldn’t say I keep up with PT “trends”, I’m not into fitness trend-hopping. There is nothing that will get you results like moving more, eating healthy/whole foods, lifting things, running, sweating, smiling and loving yourself. I love Tone It Up to motivate the hell out of you, Blogilates when coffee just doesn’t perk you up enough, @StuftMama to make you laugh and realize we’re all awesome, capable human beings, Livestrong.com for info on tons of things, DailyHIIT for intense home workouts, @HeatherWaxman when you need a little love, @PowerCakes when you need some inspo or food ideas and @BreeLovesBeauty for breath of fresh air. And if you creep through my Instagram followers you’ll find really awesome people too. I could go on and on about how many inspiring and cool people there are. I also just pay attention to what people are posting about. I’m always learning what’s going on in the fitness world by just paying attention to what people are doing and what they’re saying about it.
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?
When I first got certified, I was just at home in Houston training my friends and myself. I didn’t have clients haha! I moved to Los Angeles and immediately started looking for a job. I got hired at a gym and started training there. I loved my clients, LOVED, but the gym environment I was in wasn’t for me. I ended up leaving that gym and realized I had been given something huge with my following on Instagram and Twitter, so I just put the idea out there and asked them what they thought about online training and I had a great response. I have a few people that I’ve met that I train in person and I love doing that, but until I meet more people, that part of my business is slower compared to online trainees. I never ever saw my certification taking me where it has today, so I’m not sure if I can even say where I see it taking me in the future! Again, God is in full control. He always comes up with better ideas than I do anyway, so I just like to leave it up to Him 😉
9. What are your plans for using your certificate in the future? Any personal training goals for this year?
Ideally I’d love to just grow my business into whatever God has for it, keep loving on people, learning, challenging my clients and myself! I’d like to get certified in many other things, but that takes a lot of money haha. So while I am striving for that, I’m just trying my best to be faithful with what I’ve been given today. I think the next certification I’d like to get is Corrective Exercise Specialist. So many people, including myself, suffer from chronic pain and injuries and it’s such a frustrating thing to live with. I’d love to help people be free from their physical limitations and I can probably make that certification happen by the end of the year. I would love to study nutrition sometime in my life too, I think I am just as passionate about that aspect of health as I am the sweaty part of it. My next personal fitness goal is to get my pull ups! 🙂
10. Has your personal training experience influenced how you yourself workout now? If so, how?
Definitely! In fact, I think I worked out more when I wasn’t a trainer than I do now. And that’s not a bad thing. I was overtraining and I see now why I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. Educating myself on exercise progression, volume, intensity and all the other variables that come into play with training has improved the effectiveness of training myself. I’m always trying new workouts that I’ve designed before I put them on my girls’ plans too. I’d never ask them to do something that I couldn’t/wouldn’t do–unless they were just stronger than me and needed that challenge, which has happened 😉 I also love looking to other trainers now too. Everybody has so much insight and perspective in this industry and I love learning those things. I never want to be too proud to admit that I don’t know how to do a certain lift or answer a question. I love training at the gym I do because I’m constantly being humbled, challenged and learning. Every time I am a student, I leave being a better trainer.
11. What advice would you give to someone like me who is just starting out and studying for the CPT exam?
Do not wait until the last minute to study and study well. Like I said earlier, really focus on what you’re learning and how it’s applicable, not just memorizing a bunch of ideas and terms. Get up from your desk and do the moves, try out what you’re learning and enjoy the process. You’ll never be finished learning, so just keep that in mind and use your better judgment about everything you read or what someone tells you. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Thanks so much for your insight, Bree! I look forward to seeing what the future holds for you in both acting and personal training. Your positive energy and attitude certainly radiate through your posts and words. It was a pleasure doing this interview with you!