It probably depends.
You say you have no background in anatomy. If your educational or professional background in some area that is related to fitness? Are you a long term fitness enthusiast (as the phrase goes) who has a strong background int he application of exercise technique? What made you decide to do the training?
When I took by PT certification years ago I had already worked in fitness for a long time, had a group ex certification, and spent about a year preparing. I also took college level classes in exercise science. I don’t train outside of my own specialty anymore, because I know just how much work it would be to jump back fully into that world.
I think one thing you might want to do is to call them and tell them what your background is and ask them that question. They should be able to give you clear guidance based on knowing what is in their material. You will also want to ask whether the exam is practical as well as written, and how long the exam takes.
Another thing to do is to preorder the study materials and start to read them before you book your workshop. This will give you a better idea of the scope of the material. Some people find memorizing bones and muscles and so on hard, but even if it is relatively easy for you it does take some time if you haven’t spent a lot of time on it. And that is just the surface of what a good certification exam would cover.
Keep in mind that if you were hiring a massage therapist you would not want someone who had spent 3 days learning how to massage and then put up their ad… you would certainly want your carpenter, or the person who is putting in your gas lines to have done more than 3 days….. I bet you would even want the person who cuts your hair to have the best possible training and experience. So the more you prepare for this not only the better will you do with the workshop the better you will do, the more prepared you will be, and the more professionally respected when you step out into the work force and start working with people.
So I would say prepare as much as you can. Read, study, do flash cards, buy a copy of the Anatomy Coloring Book, practice with different equipment if you are able to do so safely, …. and enjoy the workshop. The worst thing that would happen is that you would feel that you were not yet ready for the test, and then you could study some more. Taking the workshop will be a great way to learn.
Around has given you some good advice.
You might consider some sort of formal schooling to help prepare you for the exam. For example, there is NPTI, National Personal Training Institute, that has a 500 hour program of both education and practical experience training your fellow students. It’s 500 hours of curriculum plus homework / study, and depending on whether you go to school during the day, at night, or on weekends (they have flexible programs), it can take 6 months to a year. Two of my friends have done it and were pleased with the results, and I’ve had about a half-dozen coworkers who were hired post completion of the program. At the end of the course, most people are ready to sit for the NASM exam. With the hands on experience you get training, it’s easier to get a job, and I’d advise starting at a gym that lets junior trainers shadow with experienced trainers.
As for me, I was already in group exercise with several group-ex certifications. I sat for the ACE exam and I studied 2 hours a day for about 3 months. About 200 hours. It was just about right. I passed with much higher scores than I needed, but I wouldn’t have studied any less because I didn’t want to sit for the exam more than one time.
I recommend that students studying for a PT cert, study until they feel comfortable with the material. Most certification programs can provide the materials to be covered on the exam for a fee. Or you can find the materials through other sources, just make sure you have the latest editions, etc.
I have taught a many students in the past at a nationally accredited post secondary program and I still teach students now in my own program. I find that it is helpful to get some practical experience as well and to network with workng personal trainers. There are sample tests available as well.
If you feel that you are weak in any area (you mentioned anatomy and physiology), definitely put in some extra effort there. And one last bit of advice, I know several trainers who failed their first attempt at certifying. Most of them found that taking the exam gave them insights into studying for the retake exam. And I don’t remember any of them failing it twice. I know that a few of these people are very good trainers now. Life is about take a chance and learning from mistakes. Don’t over think it or worry. Good luck!
If you want to discuss this more or any fitness topic, contact me through my profile. I am in the process of getting a new website up.
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