I have VERY exciting news to share!  This week I became an ACE Certified Personal Trainer!!!  I am so pumped for this new chapter in my life!.  A lot of people have asked me about the specifics involved to become a personal trainer (PT).  Do you need to have a 6 pack? No.  Do you need to have a tight ass booty?  Nope.  So can anyone do it?  Not really.  Becoming a PT is a much larger commitment than most people think.  I used to think being a PT was a great way to make money on the side as an easy to do, part-time job.  This is just not the case and I have a huge amount of respect for PT’s after going through the process.  In essence, to become a PT, you will be studying hard for an extended amount of time (ACE recommends a minimum of 6 months to be successful on the exam).  The material is not common sense, has nothing to do with doing 3 sets of 10 push-ups and goes deep into the science of exercise and the physiology of the human body.  To put things into perspective, I recently received my MBA from NYU Stern, and scoring well on the GMAT was about as hard as passing my ACE personal training exam.   Keep in mind, this is just the test and like all tests, probably isn’t the best indicator of how you will actually perform as a PT.  So, if you are seriously thinking of becoming a PT here’s what you should know about the test.

1. Anatomy and Kinesiology…what the what?! 

I didn’t even know what kinesiology meant until a few months ago…but it’s the study of human movement.  The test will require you to have a strong understanding of the planes of movement, muscles, joints, and all the possible ways that muscles can move. For example, you need to know all the muscles that act on the hip, know which muscles cause the hip to extend, flex, ad-duct  or abduct in both the frontal and saggital planes. You also have to know the type of exercises that work the muscles and cause specific types of movement.  This is required for all the main joints and muscles in the body – it’s a TON of information with weird scientific names like iliopsoas, sternoclavicular articulation and tensor fasciae latae.  For me, this was all a memorization game.

My Tip:  Make flashcards your new best friend and test yourself daily.  Yes, if you want to speed up your learning and pass the test in under 6 months (I did in about 3), you need to test yourself daily to memorize this information.  It’s A LOT to know.

ace flashcards

The ACE study package I used included these, which were VERY helpful.


2. You can probably apply to med school in a third world country

As my friend Jackie joked, “With all this science crap, just apply to med school in the third world.”  Ha!  I shy away from all types of biology, but the exam does require you to have an understanding of it.  This includes knowing about our respiratory, cardiovascular and pulmonary systems.  You have to be able to understand how food is broken down in the body and used for energy production (there are three separate systems that do this!).  You need to know how to train clients with injuries, illnesses, diseases, and special considerations like, pre/post natal clients.  You have to screen clients for various risk factors such as hypertension and heart disease.  You have to understand different blood pressure readings, BMI, height/weight measurements and what these metrics mean to your specific clients.  Your function requires an in-depth knowledge about a client’s health profile, BUT you are not physician and should always refer clients to their primary care doctors when appropriate.

My Tip:  Call up your friend who used to rock straight A’s in science class and is now a doctor.  Ask for advice about how he/she studied through med school.  The answer will probably involve an excess amount of coffee and/or aderol.  I took the Red Bull approach.

3. You’ll never look at people in the gym the same way again

While studying for the exam, I would see people in the gym working out and say to myself, “shoulder adduction, scapular extension, elbow flexion, etc.” I would notice people’s posture and try to determine if they had any balance issues.  Since passing the exam, I keep doing this.  I’m pretty observant by nature but now it’s on a whole new level.  I’ll have to work hard to keep my mouth shut and not give my two cents to every person in the gym, but I’m so excited to get started that I may not be able to help it!

My Tip:  Learn how to communicate with your friends and workout buddies in a constructive, listening based approach.  This will help you offer them advice that is suited to their goals and help them surpass challenges safely.  This is a fundamental part of the exam and the more you start incorporating a consultative approach with those who already trust you, the easier this will be when dealing with real clients.

Obviously there is a lot more information you will learn and study when you make the decision to get certified.  Depending on the certification you get, you will need to learn the specifics of screening clients, designing suitable programs for your clients that incorporate both cardio and resistance training, nutrition considerations and legal ramifications among other things.  This is not an exam you can study for and pass in one month (and if so, I want to know you).  It’s also pretty damn expensive to register and retake the test, so try to ace (pun intended) it the first time around.

Now that I have my Personal Training and Group Fitness certifications, coupled with some other career changes, stay tuned for a big surprise that I’ll announce in the next week!

furious flashcards

The best study partner ever!


Personal trainers are Da Bomb!


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