Last month, I shared my goals for 2018. If you didn’t see it, you can read the blog post here.
My first goal of the year was to pass the NASM certified personal trainer exam and I’m very happy to tell you I did it!! After 4 solid months of studying, I took the exam two-weeks ago and passed!!
Warning: This is long.
I have known about NASM since I became trainer 10 years ago at one of the local gyms. I always heard it is one of the most credible, nationally recognized and widely accepted certifications around…I also heard the exam is hard to pass.
I did have another certification before NASM but it did not compare; I learned so much more with NASM and gained more confidence as a personal trainer so I’m very happy I went with NASM.
SELF STUDY PROGRAM
I chose the self-study program because it was the cheapest one available. The programs range from $699-1499. I believe I paid somewhere around $600; it’s been a while since I purchased it so I don’t remember exactly (I procrastinated on it big time) Every time I opened up the book I got overwhelmed. Chapter 2 scared me! Long story short I put it off so long that I had to pay a fee to get an extension. My fault. You have 6 months to complete the course and take your exam and I went way over that. Lesson learned; DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!
Last September, my husband was out-of-town for work training and I decided it would be a good opportunity for me to get serious about my studying. Although I missed him the week he was gone, it turned out to be a good thing because it gave me the jumpstart I needed. Every night, I spent my alone time studying away.
I bought a 3 ring binder, a couple notepads and plenty of pens & highlighters.
Because I don’t have an extra room in my house for an office, my dining room table turned into my study area.
I printed out the study guide and arranged it in my binder and studied everyday in my car as I waited for my son to get out of school. This study guide covered all the important stuff in the text-book in an easy to easy read (and understand) layout. I referred to it A lot!
HOW I STUDIED
It’s been a LONG time since I’ve studied for anything so it took some planning and a lot of discipline.
I started each module by watching the Lecture Video to get an overview of the information that would be covered and then I would start reading and taking notes. Some people use flash cards but I didn’t, instead I focused on memorizing the info in the study guide.
If I did not understand something, I either googled it or looked it up on YouTube. Ex: function of the heart, energy pathways, planes of motions, etc.
When I finished reading each module, I watched the lecture video again before taking a quiz. If I didn’t pass the quiz, I reviewed the information and took it again.
I studied about 2-3 hours per day the first couple months and much more the last month (4-5 hours).
Because I am easily distracted, I did most of my studying when my kids and husband were at work/school or after they went to bed EXCEPT towards when I studied all hours of the day.
LEARN BY TEACHING
I heard the best way to learn something is to teach it so as I studied I practiced what I learned and tried to teach my husband about it (or whoever would listen). I would say something like “Do you know what the different planes of motion are? Let me explain” I did this repeatedly and it helped.
RESOURCES THAT HELPED ME
Here’s what I found most helpful:
Study Guide by Erin’s Inside Job – I came across Erin’s blog when I was looking for tips on how to prepare for the exam, she did an excellent job listing all the important things to know for the exam. I bookmarked this blog post and referred back to it every week to make sure I was learning everything I needed to know.
YouTube – I found many videos on how people passed the exam and this was the best one I came across. It provides a thorough overview of what to know for the exam. YouTube was also very helpful for looking up anything I did not understand
Fitness Mentors Audio Lectures – The best study tool out there in my opinion. As I got closer to the end of the course, I was so tired and started to doubt myself. I was not sure if I was retaining all the information and it started to make me nervous so I looked online to see if there were any additional study tools I could use to help me memorize everything better and I discovered FITNESS MENTORS audio lectures.
FITNESS MENTORS has a number of resources to help you pass the exam ranging from $99-$399 including study guides and more but I was on a budget so I purchased the audio lectures for $99 and it was well worth it!
The audio lectures take you through every chapter of the book and breaks down the information in a way you can understand as well as highlights the important things you NEED to know for the exam. It felt like someone was teaching me the entire book; it was awesome! What I loved is the convenience; I listened to them over and over at home along side my text-book as I took notes, in the car, during my workouts, and when I walked my dog. Talk about mobile learning!
I think the audio lectures played a big part in me passing and I would highly recommend them to anyone studying for the CPT exam!
NO TV, NO SHOPPING, NO NOTHING
In the final weeks before exam date, I cracked down and did nothing but study. I was determined to pass! I stopped watching TV, deleted social media and shopping apps off my phone and ordered my groceries online (or asked my daughter or husband to go the store)
Once I finished the textbook, I went over everything again and again. I retook all the quizzes and made sure I knew everything about the human movement system, assessments, planes of motion, muscle imbalances, exercise technique AND the OPT MODEL.
I took the practice exam about 3 times and each time I scored the same (around 90%). The questions were presented a little different each time but overall pretty similar.
I scheduled my test for 1:30 on Friday. This allowed me time to study more in the morning and mentally prepare. I listened to the Audio Lectures during the drive over there; I wanted to stay focused.
I walked in the testing center calm but when it was time to sit down to take my exam, the nerves kicked in; my palms started sweating (my palms never sweat) and my hands were shaking but once I was a 1/4 of the way into the exam, I started to feel at ease. It was then I realized how HARD I studied. I was ready for it!
There were some tricky questions but nothing was foreign to me. Honestly it was not as bad as I expected BUT again, I expected and prepared for a hard exam.
I finished in just under an hour but I spent an extra 15 minutes going over all my answers to be sure and then I hit the finish button and prayed I passed, I walked to the proctor to let her know I was done; she told me to have a seat while she grabbed my ID and did some paperwork as I sat there anxiously wanting to know if I passed or not.
Finally, she handed me this paper!
I passed!!!! Thank GOD!! It didn’t seem real to me at first but as I drove home it started sinking in; I WAS SO HAPPY!!!
WHY THIS MEANT SO MUCH TO ME
As I said earlier, it took me a really long time to get this course done; for a number of reasons: fear, doubt, lack of focus and confidence but MOSTLY depression. Yes I was struggling with depression for a couple years but I didn’t realize it at the time, (or want to admit it.) All I know is it was hard for me to accomplish anything during that time; even the simple every day things were hard so studying was very on and off. I would study for a couple of weeks and then stop for months. This went on and on until last year I became fed up with where I was in my career and life in general and FINALLY decided to do something about it! So on September 25, 2017 I started studying seriously and never looked back!
Four months later I AM an NASM CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER!!!!
It has been a long time since I have accomplished anything big and I could not be happier; It is exactly what I needed!
As a wife and mom, studying for the exam was definitely a challenge so it took some sacrifice on everyone’s part and I am so thankful for my husband; not only for helping me around the house but for being my biggest supporter; he listened to me talk about everything I was learning, allowed me to practice assessments on him and most importantly BELIEVED in me!
After I passed, he surprised me with this card along with an amazon gift card. He knew how much this certification meant to me. 🙂
All this learning gave me confidence and made me want to learn more but before I jump into my next certification, I’m going to take a little break and savor this accomplishment.
Now its time to use this knowledge and expertise to get my butt in shape before I turn 40! Stay tuned.
If you have made it this far, thank you so much for reading.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with this exam or similar exams. If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment. 🙂
Have a great day!