Preparing to take the personal trainer certification exam is an exciting thing and a daunting task all at the same time. You might be feeling anxious with the exam looming, but there’s something else to think about if you plan to hit the ground running in your new career.

Consider this: it’s never too early to start preparing to build your clientele and, thus, your business. It may sound like a lot at one time, but it beats the old head-stuck-in-the-sand approach hands down!

Since your time is being consumed by study, work, family, and life in general, it’s important to find realistic methods of preparation that fit into your schedule. Let’s face it, even if something is totally necessary, if it isn’t realistic, it won’t get done consistently.

Here are a few ways to lay the groundwork for your new career and business in a few hours, or less, per week.


Gain an understanding of your market

This takes careful thought on your part, and is probably something you’ve been ruminating on since before you even committed to becoming certified. Who is your market? Or, to put it another way, what benefits do you provide, and who, exactly, will buy your services? Will you focus on weight loss, helping people maintain their fitness, or do you, at some point, plan to specialize or work with special populations?

This may change over time as you get into your new career, but you’ll still need to know how you plan to start before you start.

Know about your direct competition

Often, new trainers don’t realize how competitive the market is. But, there’s nothing wrong with competition. It’s actually a good sign for your business. It means there is demand for what you do. The problems come when trainers are caught off guard and intimidated by the sheer number of others in their area with the same specializations.

There’s nothing you can do about competition, but there may be some things you can do to add more value to your business, such as going mobile and taking your services to the client.

Don’t underestimate your most valuable assets: your personality, education, and willingness and ability to understand individual goals.

Know how you’ll execute your marketing plan

This is a biggie. Start brainstorming now, if you haven’t already. It isn’t enough to say you’ll get your name out there if you’ve no idea how to do it. What’s more, once you pin down exactly how you’ll connect with your market, you can start your strategy early. Let people know your plans and when you expect to be in business.

It may feel like pressure now, but it’ll definitely take a load off later on when it’s time to start making money in your new career.


Also, for great advice to help you get through your exam without a hitch, check out this article on test-taking anxiety right here on the NFPT blog.

Tanisha Rule

Tanisha Rule has a BA in English and is a former Mad Dogg-certified Spinning instructor. She taught indoor cycle and boot camp and has now combined her passions as a full-time writer for the health and fitness industries, check out her site at If she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found happily training for an endurance event, likely after having said, “This is my last one for a while,” because there is no finish line; there is only progress.