The Ins & Outs of my CPT Journey

If you've been reading my blog (or following me on Instagram or Twitter) the last few months, you'll know that I've been studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer. Well I'm proud to say...mission accomplished. Today I want to walk (umm type?) y'all through my journey thus far.

Why personal training?

I'm extremely passionate about health & fitness. And not the out of touch level, but a practical, day-to-day kind of healthy lifestyle. Something that I won't get burnt out on, but that makes me, me. If that makes sense. I used to be overweight. I would share pictures but unfortunately for you (fortunately for me) my computer crashed a few years ago and I lost all of my old pictures. What motivated me to make a change? My Daddy. I love my Dad to death, but he's a bigger guy. I will never forget him telling me that if I didn't slow down soon, that I would end up looking like him. Talk about wake up call. When I started college is really when I started getting into health and fitness. But I never really thought about making a career out of my new found passion. Once I graduated college and realized that I wasn't really interested in much of anything else, I figured I might as well make my passion into a career!


Aka the National Academy of Sports Medicine. I did a lot of research prior to deciding who I wanted to get certified through. I narrowed it down to ACSM and NASM. A lot of the trainers who I look up to (like Katrina Hodgson of Tone It Up) are certified through NASM so I decided that I would go that route, too. This is kind of funny, but after researching, it seemed to me that NASM was the "Mondo Burger" of the certifications (shout out to those of y'all who knew this Good Burger reference). I took the NASM CPT Version 4 exam.

How I Prepared:

The CPT course was all home based. I ordered the study bundle in June of 2012, but due to some life changes, I didn't begin studying until January 2013. I took my exam on March 28, 2013. You have 6 months (180 days) after your purchase date to take the exam. The study bundle that I bought came with a free retest in case you didn't pass the first time around, so since I missed my time frame, I used the second exam as my first one. Thankfully I passed...woo!

But let me tell you...it was not easy. I spent 5/7 nights a week for 2.5 months glued to my desk chair studying away. Now know this, I had zero previous knowledge of any of this. I knew going into this that it would be a challenge for me since I have never taken an anatomy class or learned the science behind fitness. Anyone who thinks that just because someone is "good" at working out or has lost a lot of weight on their own can easily become a CPT is mistaken. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Let me encourage you to break everything down and don't get discouraged. Take it chapter by chapter. Use the resources provided to you by NASM.

I  chose to print out and follow the syllabus that NASM recommended. I read the entire text book and made flash cards for each chapter. I studied those flash cards to death. I then took the practice exam and didn't do so hot. But that showed me the areas where I needed to improve. So I mapped out which chapters I was weak in and zoned in on those. I then retook the practice exam and did much better.

The test itself was HARD. Nothing to take lightly. It is the only test I've ever taken (and I've taken A TON) that I've gone back and double-checked every single question (there was 120 questions). If you're studying I suggest on focusing on:

- Know all of the assessments (especially the overhead squat assessment)
- The OPT model as a whole
- Progressions & regressions of each exercise as well as how to categorize them in the OPT model
- Acute variables of each adaptation
- Isolated functions of the muscles
- Nutrition chapter
- Client relations
- Vocabulary of each chapter
- Stretching categorization

The test is worded in a way that you cannot just memorize the material, but actually have to understand it and know how to apply it. I did more critical thinking during this process than I ever did in college. Just saying. I had 2 hours to complete the exam and used 1 hour and 10 minutes of that.

What's Next?

Now that I am officially a NASM CPT, I've had a lot of people ask me what my next move is going to be. I don't really want to work in a gym, because I haven't set foot in a gym in over 2 months. I do all of my workouts at home. I am going to be brainstorming over the next few weeks about starting my own business. I'm planning on training people in my area in local parks or at their house. I would also be interested in teaching small group classes outdoors. Something else that I'm wanting to get into is...online personal training! Yep that's right. I don't have all the details nailed down yet, but I'm going to be extending an offer of services to y'all :) I'm really excited about that. Yay technology! Eventually, I would love to own my own fitness studio for women. But that will be later on down the road. Sometime in the next 2 years, I'll be getting my Fitness Nutrition Specialist certification through NASM, too. Every 2 years I have to get 2.0 CEUs (continuing education units). For now I'm trying to figure out what to do with all of this spare time that I'm not using studying...I forgot how to have a life ;)

Y'all this was not an easy thing for me to accomplish. At all. Science has always been my weakness so I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to tackle this certification. But I wanted it and I made it happen. I made sacrifices and worked my butt off to make my dream a reality. No dream is too big. If there's a will, there's a way. Never give up on what you really want to do! My plan is to create my dream job. And I'm so excited to document my journey as I go!

Thank y'all for the endless support...you're gems! And seriously, chase your dreams! 



  1. Congrats :) It's good to see people work hard & go after their passions in life.

  2. Congratulations you look amazing.

  3. You're so cool.


    (wanna be my trainer? ;)<< in my creeper boy voice)

  4. i have always wanted to be a trainer soooo bad!!! i never pursued it, because it's one of the leading causes of divorce rate??? crazy? plus, working with men creeps me out and all our women gyms shut down, but online training seems to be the way to go nowadays! congrats on all your hardwork paying off! btw, you look amazing!

  5. how exciting!! you should definitely do group fitness classes - that would be awesome! wish I lived by you! :)

  6. Congratulations lady!

    Is it super lame/weird that my husband is in the Navy and wants to get stationed in Florida SO BAD, and one of my thoughts about it is "well, at least I could hire Jessica as a personal trainer!"?

    So excited for you, and I'm super excited to hear about online training!

  7. Yayyyy, congrats! Bet it's a huge relief to be done! And.. online training?? Sign me up!

  8. that's so awesome!! congratulations!!!

  9. Loved following you on this journey Jess and we're all so proud of you! Slash we all wish we could have a bangin body like you so I think you're in the right business ;). Also kudossss for the good burger reference, you are my hero!

  10. Congrats! Can't wait for your online offer of personal training:)

  11. I am so, so proud of you, sis, and I can't wait to see what's ahead for you!

    And I can't wait until you're my virtual personal trainer. :)

  12. I think online training is perfect, that way you can train me! Hehe After my cousin's wedding is over (and I don't have to worry about losing too much weight so my dress is too big [doesn't everyone wish they had that problem!?]), I'm gonna start my training for the St. Jude's Half Marathon in December! I'll start out slow - a few 5ks, then a 10k in like September and eventually the Half!

    And I swear that's not an April Fool's Joke :P

    carelessly graceful

  13. Hi Jessica! Congrats on your achievement, that has to feel SO rewarding! If your looking for other options to provide your services other than a gym check with your local city's Parks and Recreation Departments! I'm located in MN and work in the Rec field as a programmer and up here when parks are not covered in snow and sometimes are we are always looking for fitness programs to include in our parks or facilities as a program that is not set in a gym or fitness center (not all municipalities up here have them) so just a little tid bit take it or leave it! And no, not all parks and recreation departments are like Amy Pohler's show :) if you've ever seen it. haha. Just thought I'd mention it, parks and rec is a passion of mine. I don't normally comment but after reading I couldn't not comment! Good luck!


  14. Congratulations! That's so awesome that you got to achieve you dream :)

  15. So proud of you girl! Such a great task to accomplish, and such an inspiration to me!!! Congrats for the millionth time! :)

    Elizabeth Kathryn

  16. Congratulations again! When you talked about this I totally envisioned it to be much like taking a State Board exam for Cosmetology etc. Any certain trade where health is concerned. Sure cosmetologists work on your hair and body but they also have to use chemicals on you etc.

    I think it's awesome you were so diligent with the studying process!!! Not only are you passionate you care to remember all of this.

    It's been a long time since my state board test to be a manicurist but I can remember having to remember and APPLY a lot of information. I wonder if I could do it again!

    I can't wait to see where this all leads you!

  17. Way to go! I'm in nursing school so I completely understand what you mean when you say that science was always hard for you but you kicked that test's ass!


  18. so so soooo proud of you gooorlfrannnd!!! to go from one extreme to the other, and also to stay fit, has got to be one of the heardest things to go through!!

    I am SO excited for your upcoming plans, especially online training... that's a new-be for me to hear about, so I'm all ears!!!

    get it gooorl!! chase yo' dreams, and bring us along for the ride of encouragement!!

  19. HOTTIE!!!
    So proud of you. You rock!!!

  20. Reading this seriously made me so proud of you...again! It really is amazing what we can accomplish when we really want something! Can't wait to see where you go with all of this...I know it will be amazing! :)

  21. Girl this is awesome!!! I am SO happy for you. Studying that much for that long really does take dedication. And as a nutrition nerd, I can totally appreciate your passion for this :)

  22. Can I be #1 on your wait list for online personal training pretty please?!

  23. Thank you so much for writing this! Just a quick question, when you purchased the study bundle was a testing fee included in that? Or do you do that separately?

  24. I know it's been a while since you posted this, but I'm extremely interested in pursuing a career in personal training. I've been looking into the NASM CPT program and I have no idea which path to choose. I see you went with the study bundle but I'm seeing that nowhere on their website! HELP!


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