As you prepare for your certification exam, it is important to do your homework and understand the role of the type of fitness professional you aspire to become. By getting some hands-on experience and observing how current fitness professionals are applying the topics in the ACE study materials to their career, not only will you be ahead of the curve when you become certified, but your preparation for the exam will be much more enjoyable. Here are some tips on how to better understand the role of each fitness profession: If you are seeking to become a Personal Trainer, get some hands-on experience before taking your exam. While many people choose to do this immediately after they pass their exam, you will be ahead of the game if you do so during your studies. Whether it’s job shadowing a personal trainer, attending a live workshop, or donating your time and getting involved with the Joining Forces program, the experience will give you good insight into the client-trainer relationship (rapport) and the role of the client assessment and interviewing process. It will also enable you to understand how to utilize assessment information and testing results to design safe and effective programs for clients. If you want to become a Group Fitness Instructor, take a variety of classes to better understand the role of the group fitness instructor. This will provide you with great insight on how to teach different modalities, acquaint you with a variety of environments for each class (e.g., room temperature, equipment, lighting, sound), and also allow you to witness how each instructor constructs his or her class to meet the needs of the students (e.g., class design). If you are studying to become a Health Coach, make sure that you have the professional background to earn this certification. You must hold either a current NCCA-accredited certification, an associate’s degree or higher, or comparable work experience in fitness, exercise science, nutrition, health care, wellness, human resources or a related field. This credential requires a better understanding of how to encourage and coach individuals who require lifestyle changes and a deeper understanding of the relationship between physical activity, nutrition and the science behind behavior modification. Once you have confirmed your eligibility, shadow or become a client of an ACE Health Coach. You might also consider using the Find an ACE Trainer tool to contact an ACE Health Coach and see if they can offer any tips or insight into how to use the certification in your career. If you are seeking to become an Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist (assuming you are currently working as a Personal Trainer), try to network with allied health professionals like physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons, registered dietitians or medical doctors who specialize in metabolic disorders. You may also want to consider taking continuing education courses that focus on working with special populations, such as pre-/post-natal clients, individuals with metabolic diseases and disorders, etc. With this education, your goals should be to learn how to take exercise programming principles and apply them to any population that may have different needs, issues limitations or unique considerations? By observing how fitness professionals are using their certifications in their careers and how they are applying the topics covered in the ACE materials to their training, instructing, and coaching, you’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned to your studies and better understand the importance of the topics you are being tested on, making your study experience much more meaingful.