Not many know I’m a certified Personal Trainer.
So how did that happen? Well in 2014, about one year after I left corporate America, all I wanted was to become a personal trainer. This made total sense since fitness has always been one of my major hobbies. And why not try to make some money with it. So I did the right thing and got myself a NASM-CPT certification, which is required by all reputable gyms in America.
Since my certification I’ve learnt a few things about the personal trainer business. First, working at a gym is not something I want to do. It’s a lot of work for the amount of money you’ll earn. Also with a gym employer you are tied to one location which is awful. Second, it’s a very competitive business. Especially in California where everyone seems to be a personal trainer.
Instead, the business model I’ve been using is coaching clients in less competitive markets such as Thailand. Fitness is a relatively new concept there, and the middle class is growing. In addition to that, I’m also coaching people online.
With that being said, I always receive questions how to become a certified personal trainer. To help out my fellow fitness friends, I’ve decided to put together a guide to answer some of these questions.
How to become a Personal Trainer
First you have to be aware that there are many certifications to choose from. Each have their strength and weaknesses, and difficulty to acquire. These four are the major ones in the US:
They’re all solid certifications, and you’ll easily find work with any of them. However I selected NASM after talking with the trainers working at my local Crunch gym. A majority had the NASM-CPT certification and it seemed the chances for employment was higher with that certification. In addition I liked their web portal which was easy to navigate and provided everything I needed. Finally the price matched my budget.
NASM doesn’t require any previous education beside high school, but they do require a CPR/AED certification. This certification can be taken at several locations and it’s not expensive. I had mine done at the Red Cross office in San Francisco and I only spent an afternoon there.
The registration on NASM’s webpage was pretty straightforward, and I ended up selecting the self-study package for $699. This package should be good enough for most people unless you have real issues focusing on your own. After paying they sent me the study handbook, flash cards with sample test questions and access to online classes. Plus a dope backpack that I’ve misplaced somewhere.
I studied about three months before taking the test. And I read the book three times and took tons of notes. In addition I spent a lot of time with the flash cards and the sample exams. I also took my ex-girlfriend to the gym and tried the theories from the book out in a practical environment. That was of great help.
I believe it is doable to take the exam in a shorter time, but I was really eager to learn everything in the book.
On the day of the exam, you go to a test center that they’ll have in all major cities. The exam had 20 questions and you select a checkbox next to the correct answer. Looking back now I can’t say that the test was difficult.
After I passed the exam they sent me a paper certification, which was also available for print online. Furthermore, NASM requires that you to renew the certification every two years. This means further studying and you need to collect a certain number of study credits called CEUs.
Hope this information helps. If you have further questions I can answer them over emails.
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