There’s the obvious: I studied. But often times, studying alone isn’t enough to be successful on an exam. Have you ever looked up the answers after taking a test, only to find yourself exclaiming, “UGH I KNEW THAT!” That’s my college testing experience in a nutshell.
For my personal training exam, I tried things differently. Instead of walking into the testing room with my usual scattered-ADHD-brain, I sat at my desk with a calm and content demeanor. And I passed with flying colors.
I’m a nationally recognized Certified Personal Trainer. And dammit, I’m proud of that!
Here’s how I did it:
I believed in myself.
I called myself a trainer/coach long before I passed my certification. In truth, I was – and still am – my own coach. I enjoy learning about the human body and exercise progression. With my personal interest driving my research in everything fitness, I realized that I was already more knowledgeable in many aspects of exercise than most of the popular Instagram “ fitness gurus.” My confidence in myself was high right from the start.
I told everyone.
I announced it on social media. I had a count down ticker on my blog. People knew my CPT exam was coming up. Friends, family, strangers… if you truly follow me, you probably knew. By telling everyone that I would accomplish something, I put pressure on myself to accomplish it. I knew how foolish I’d look if I hyped myself up over social media and failed. As unconventional as it sounds, avoiding that potential embarrassment was a huge driver in my success on this exam. Announcing my goals has always been one of my tricks to spike my motivation.
I had support.
Lots of it. Heck, even people I didn’t know congratulated me after I passed the test! I felt supported the entire way. Many people believed in me, which made a huge difference in my self efficacy. So in a way, I passed this exam for those who supported me, because I didn’t want to let down those who pushed me up.
Thank you for encouraging me the entire way to my test.
I practice what I studied.
Not only did I read the material, but I implemented many of the training theories on myself and my friend – who became my first client. After she completed her first four weeks of strength training, her form and numbers on the big three – squat, bench, and deadlift – improved. To top it off, her confidence in herself skyrocketed.
This was fuel for me to continue learning and studying because I absolutely LOVED seeing my friend find success in her own life through the gym. Passing this test was one step closer to doing what I love for a living.
I set a deadline.
When I received the textbooks and study materials, I went bonkers with studying. The subject matter was so official and interesting to me, that I couldn’t help but dive head first into the training manuals. But after the first month, my motivation tanked. The material became dry, like I was reading a high school history book. Two months went by, then three, then four. I knew I was setting myself up for failure, so I set up my exam date.
At this point, it was the end of September. I chose to take my CPT exam on November 10th. Now that lit a fire in my bum!
With a deadline set, I studied vigorously. I practiced every chapter quiz multiple times. And when the real test was in front of me, I passed.
I stayed healthy.
Taking care of mental and physical health before a stressful test is highly underrated. Having good health is a giant umbrella to this entire list. I can’t be confident if I’m in a sugar-coma. I can’t be proud enough to ask for support if I’m always tired. Before my test, I made sure I had adequate sleep, ate right, and stayed active. (I actually stopped lifting heavy for a month, and only did cardio-lifting and yoga. More on that in a later post.)
The day before the test, I practiced flowing (yoga) for over an hour, and meditated for 30 minutes. My head was clear, and because of that, I passed.
I rewarded myself.
Positive reinforcement is a strong motivator and learning tool. Basically, after studying for an allotted amount of time without distraction, I rewarded myself. You probably think I’m lame though, because I reward myself with things like reading a chapter of a fiction novel, watching a Netflix episode, or buying a new magazine – boring things for most, but definitely big sources of pleasure and distraction for me.
The creme dela creme of my rewards was this: if I passed my exam, I would buy new leggings. My husband ended up rewarding me with this one ♥ (Like I mentioned earlier, I had a lot of support!)
If you’ve read this far, THANK YOU for your time. I know how busy life can be. If anyone is planning to get certified through the American Council on Exercise, let me know if I can be of assistance.