Hey friends, how are you today? I spent a miserable couple of hours at the dentist yesterday (dental work is the worst). So a little sore, but so glad to be done with that for now.
I have gotten a few questions about how I came to be a personal trainer and group instructor. So I wanted to share a little about my personal journey and how to go about getting certified.
To start, a little background on me and why I wanted to pursue being a personal trainer and instructor in the first place.
I have always loved being active. I started swimming on teams when I was six (if you ask my grandpa, I started swimming before I could walk) and kept it up into high school. I also tried my hand at a variety of other sports and activities, with limited success. My coordination would impress no one, so my basketball career was pretty much over before it began.
I also loved fitness classes and the gym from the first time I tried them out. Now, I wouldn’t say I have always lived the healthiest of lifestyles, but the working out part, I have always been a fan of.
While I have belonged to a gym and had my regular classes I would take since my teens, I never really thought about working in fitness. I just didn’t see myself as a trainer. If we’re being honest, I think a lot of it was I didn’t feel like I looked like a trainer. Which I feel a little self conscious talking about even now, but we all have our perceptions and insecurities we struggle with.
After I had my babies I was loving being a mom but felt I was a little lost in who I was now. I wanted to get back to some of the things that I did just for me, and not just in a participant way. I wanted to really know how to develop a workout plan, I wanted to know how and why things worked, and I wanted to connect with folks who shared my interests. I also found that I didn’t really care about how I was supposed to look for the role anymore.
So, about a year and a half ago I did some research, decided on a personal training certification program, studied my tail off and got my certification in November 2016. By the end of the year, I was doing one on one sessions and getting ready to start teaching a regular boot camp class. Over a year of teaching and training later, it is still one of the best decisions I made. I love teaching, I love connecting with people, and I love watching my clients get stronger and accomplish their goals.
If are interested in becoming a teacher or instructor, here are some tips to help you get started.
- Decide on what you want to do. You may already know or this may take some research. If you love, love, love barre, then looking into barre certification might be right for you. I chose personal training first because I feel most comfortable interacting one on one or with a small group and because I really wanted to know the ins and outs of how the body worked and how to develop safe, effective and personalized workouts.
Once you know what you want to do, do a little research on what is required. I would also suggest checking on specific requirements of employers if you know where you want to work. Some gyms require a certain certification. Many studios require you be certified in a specific method. For example, Barre3 instructors are certified by Barre3, so another barre certification would probably not qualify you to teach there. I ultimately decided to seek certification through NASM because they are widely accepted, have a great reputation and because several trainers I know and respect are certified by them.
*******the rest of these steps are specific to becoming a personal trainer, other certification may be similar, or more focused on certification through a workshop or conference*******
- Decide on a package. Through NASM there was an online option, an online plus mentoring at a participating gym, an independent study (basically, the textbook), and an in-person training. I went with the online, but I feel that this is a know yourself time, where you need to think about how you best learn. I am good about studying on my own, so online worked for me. That being said, I have heard the in-person training is amazing and I want to take it one day for professional development.
Make yourself a study and practice schedule. My personal training study materials were broken into chapters. I focused on 1-2 chapters a week and made sure to complete all the practice quizzes and activities before moving onto the next chapter. I also designed a workout plan for myself by month and designed workouts for friends and family for practice. I found that the designing of workouts and then practicing training my loved ones really got me thinking about how to utilize what I was learning and identify areas I needed to spend more time on.
Get CPR/First Aid certified. Or find your card if you already are, you will need it get your certification.
Study, study, study.
- Schedule your test, if you are working or have a less flexible schedule you may want to do this a bit in advance. For the NASM test, you have to actually schedule a time at a local testing center. It was my experience that most available test times are during the work week and during the day, so you may need to take a little time off or arrange for childcare.
Test day. Take a deep breath and do your best. I’m sure you will do great! Test results are available immediately following.
Once you have your certification, get promoting! Make a training specific resume, and start applying.
You’re hired. Make sure you are prepared to work with your clients. Find out if an assessment tool is provided, if not, find or develop your own. Take the time to prepare quality workouts, individualized to your client’s needs prior to each session.
*Bonus tip: While thinking about seeking certification, studying for your exam, on the job hunt, or once you become a certified instructor – attend classes or take some groups, and ask chat with the instructors. I have learned some great techniques from some of my favorite instructors and have found some new favorite exercises chatting with other trainers.
I hope this is information is helpful. If you have any questions, please let me know, I would love to connect with you and help you on your journey.
If you would like more posts on instructing, training or diving into the fitness world, let me know. I am still on my journey as well and have so much more I want to learn. I would be happy to share about my fitness loves and adventures with you as I discover them.
Hope you have a great day!