Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On Becoming a NASM Certified Personal Trainer

I had been researching how to become a certified personal trainer for months. I looked at websites of different certification programs, and fell in love with the National Academy of Sports Medicine mission. It seemed a lot more challenging than the other certifications, but it was based on the science aspect of fitness and nutrition, had the OPT model, and nothing but good reviews. Most of the gyms look for NASM certified personal trainers, above all others. 

When I found my passion for working out, fitness, and nutrition, the thought passed through my mind to share my passion and positively influence friends, family, and even strangers. The thought only passed through, and even though it passed through often, I never made the plunge. I kept saying how expensive it was, and how I wasn't sure I could fully commit to it - I did have a full time job, and a long commute. Sal mentioned time and time again that I should just do it because I'd be so great at it. I was already giving advice to my friends and family, but with a certification, it only made me more knowledgable and professional. It wasn't until, weeks and weeks later, when I found myself on Instagram every night, looking at the NASM hashtag, and feeling jealous of everyone who received their NASM backpacks and textbook, that I knew I needed to enroll. I asked my followers on Instagram, most of who were either personal trainers or fitness friends, which NASM package was the best. Most of them suggested the self-study, I thought I'd do better with the CPT online classroom, and Sal wanted me to purchase the most expensive to ensure a job in 60 days. In the end, I decided on the CPT Self Study because I knew this wasn't going to be a full time job for me, at least not yet, and it was the cheapest. 

When my backpack and book arrived, I quickly tore open the box that looked exactly like a locker. I felt like a little kid again on the first day of school, I was ready to give it my all. I had my binder filled with paper, my pen and highlighters by my side. The program allows 180 days (6 months) to study for the exam. The first few days were relatively easy, but as I kept reading, the chapters seemed to get harder. I followed the syllabus that was provided, which helped provide a guideline to follow that would enable me to study for 70 days and be ready for the test. However, I did about a chapter a week, and it was difficult. There was so much information, and I found myself more worried about what I needed to know than actually learning the information. I found another study guide online in the middle of my studying, and found that it highlighted information from each chapter that was necessary to know for the test. Instead of writing down everything in my notes, I found that I could highlight the important information easier. 

Over the summer, Sal and I headed to our friend's house on the lake. While he fished, I studied. I would write out flashcards, take notes, and perform the moves of exercises, stretches, and assessments. It worked out well. I was able to breathe in the clear air, and have a clear mind as I studied.  I found out quickly that that wasn't enough though. I honestly tried to study more, and carried my notes with me everywhere, but I rarely looked at them. I brought the flashcards with me on vacation, but found that I was just too overwhelmed to even glance at them. 

It wasn't until the last month that I became super motivated to study. I finished reading the book, and created a study guide of my own. I took this study guide with me, and highlighted key terms, and I even went over the flashcards in small sections at a time. I assessed Sal's exercises, and practiced moving each muscle as I went over it in my head. Before I knew it, it was the weekend before the test, so I took the practice exam twice. The first time around I didn't do great, and I was upset, but quickly reassured by Sal that it was the first time I had seen what their test was going to be like, so he pushed me to try it again after reviewing what I had gotten wrong. I did and scored much, much better. I reviewed some information that I was struggling with, and went to be feeling somewhat calm. Whatever was going to happen would happen. The morning of, I had a healthy, energizing breakfast, and then drove to the testing center early. I sat in my truck for a little bit, going over more flashcards, but only the ones that I was struggling with. I walked into the building with my head held high. 

I took the certification exam, and felt extremely confident. There were one or two questions that had been on the practice exam that I knew immediately, and I felt like I knew most of the answers to the rest of the 120 questions. There were a few that I was stuck between two answers, so I flagged them, and went back to them at the end. I submitted my exam, and went out to the lobby area where the man would print my results. I was nervous when he didn't look at me as he handed me my paper, but as soon as I looked at it, I smiled. I HAD PASSED! I was shaking I was so excited. I left, and called everyone that I couldn't wait to share the news with, and then I announced it on social media. I was so proud of myself at that moment, and knew right then and there that I could do anything that I set my mind to. 

I went home to an empty house, and texted Sal asking him what I was supposed to do now. He went on to tell me all of the people I should contact and how I should start my personal training business. It was great and all, but really all I wanted to know was what I should do with the rest of my day. 

I'm sure I'll be making another announcement about my future endeavors real soon, but for now - Go and Like my Facebook page - Get Fit with Kristyn - for the latest fitness and nutrition information, challenges, and motivation. 

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