My Experience with the NASM-CPT Exam

This was my experience with the National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer Examination…

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I bought the NASM-CPT self study package at the end of January 2018. It came with the online quizzes and book (available as a text as well as online).

I passed my exam (on the first try) at the end of May 2018 after having consistently studied for about 4 months.

After extensive research I chose to get my certification in personal training from the National Academy of Sports Medicine because it was one of the most reputable programs with a ton of readily available information from those who had also attempted to complete, or successfully completed, the certification. Another important factor in my decision to go with NASM was that I noticed at my local gym that the majority of trainers were certified under NASM.

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To maintain total transparency with my readers, I OF COURSE had my doubts. After all, there is a ton of negative feedback out there regarding the NASM-CPT course. Some of the objections against the organization were that they make the test unreasonably hard and that you would see questions on the exam about material that was hardly ever mentioned in the textbook or quizzes. I’ll get to these objections later in my post.

I began skimming the chapters and making flashcards for each and every vocabulary word (no matter how seemingly incidental) very early on. I took the quizzes for each chapter until I passed them at 90-100%.

Having my B.A. in English I am very accustomed to memorizing vocabulary and am also well versed in critical analysis of abstract ideas or topics. So even though the material in the NASM 6th Edition text was foreign to me, I had an idea of how I was going to digest all of the new information.

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I printed out a few study guides that I found online and others that were available to NASM course participants via the online portal. I skimmed through a couple chapters of these guides but did not read them in their entirety. I personally don’t learn by reading alone, I have to handwrite the information and listen to it spoken aloud.

In the beginning, I was very lax about my study schedule and was lucky to have a job that allowed me to study throughout my shifts. For a while I was only studying twice a week. But, as the date of my test got closer I really began to buckle down.

I retook ALL of the chapter quizzes 3-5 times (sometimes even more) and made a Google document with all the questions that I got wrong, or thought were difficult and included all of the possible answers, making bold the correct one. This ended up being around 30 pages.

I also downloaded the NASM pocket prep app and bought the upgrade. I answered the 500 questions and took the exams until my overall score was at 85%. I took the practice exam provided on the NASM-CPT self study portal two weeks before my exam. I began to get nervous as the timetable was compressing and I wanted to see how prepared I really was at that point. To my surprise, I passed. But it was still a close enough call to where I felt like I had a substantial amount more studying to do. I had read somewhere that the questions stayed the same on the practice exam and did not change with the amount of times that you took it. THIS WAS WRONG! Which I only discovered the NIGHT BEFORE I TOOK MY EXAM when I went back to re-take the practice test. I took the practice test 3 different times and each time the questions were markedly different. Each time, I passed and my score varied by only 1 point (it went up by one each time I took it). I took it twice late at night before my exam the next morning.

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What I believe was the MOST HELPFUL study tactic BY FAR was filling a composition notebook with the vocab and objectives from each chapter. Yes, I re-wrote the vocab that I had already transcribed onto flashcards in the composition book and made sure to answer each chapter objective. I did this about 2.5 weeks before my test and worked on it daily. I filled the entire composition book. I also recorded myself (using a tape-recording app) repeating the vocabulary and objective questions that I completed. I only did this for 10 chapters because I ran out of time. It was very tedious and I don’t think I necessarily needed to do it because of how thorough I was already in my studying. But, I’m glad I did, I ended up listening to chapters 5-7 in my car before taking the test and I do believe it was beneficial. I also used peppermint essential oil at my desk and chewed peppermint gum. Scent is linked to memory via the olfactory bulb in the nasal passage that connects to the lower part of our brains. Not only has peppermint been shown to help with memory recall, but it also calms me and leaves me feeling refreshed and alert.

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I watched YouTube videos and drew diagrams. I didn’t do anything crazy, or read every single line of the textbook. I simply gathered the breadth of information I knew I would need to be familiar with, and then zeroed in on all the important stuff I had heard would be the major focus of the exam (i.e. nutrition, overhead squat assessment, muscle structures, etc.).

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When it came time to take the exam I was pretty stressed. A few days before, I drove to the testing facility, went inside and located the room where I would be taking the exam just so I knew where I’d be going that day. I had heard a couple horror stories of people being late or not being able to find the room where they were supposed to take the exam and I DID NOT want that happening to me. I HIGHLY recommend doing this on a day you have off if the testing facility is close enough to where you live/work. It was a HUGE relief to have a visual of where I would park and how I would enter the building on exam day.

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On the day of the actual exam I got there around 1.5 hours early because I wanted time to study beforehand without being stressed about impending traffic. I sat in my car and reviewed my notes. I was a bit anxious so I walked a couple of laps around the lower parking lot where there were no cars. My exam was at 11am and we were told to arrive a ½ hour early. I made my way to the room where the test would be held at about 10:25 but was told to come back at 10:30. I went to the bathroom, put my backpack in my car and then made my way back to the room where the test would be. There was a group of people gathered outside that were there for a realtor exam. The test proctors had told them they would be permitted inside once it was 10:30. A gentleman wearing a watch noted that it was to be 10:30 in about 30 seconds. This information may seem unimportant but I really want to paint a picture for my readers of what to expect on exam day. There is no warm welcome and good luck send-off into the exam room. The people at the testing facilities aren’t necessarily rooting for you because they have had no stake in this process, so don’t expect a warm welcome or supportive environment.

The waiting room was small and we were told to line up orderly but there just wasn’t enough room. Some of the other people got frustrated; I did my best to keep calm and focused. I showed my passport, license, and CPR certification. One of the proctors locked my belongings in a bag and showed me to where I would be taking the exam. We were given earplugs, which I used.

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You’re allowed to flag certain questions for whatever reason, in case you wanted to come back to them. I flagged about 20 questions for various reasons. There were some questions that I had not seen in my studying, but these were sparse. The main issue I had was that the topic was familiar to me but the language in which it was presented was more technical. BE WARY OF THIS!

I finished the exam with about an hour to spare and went back to certain questions. I changed a couple of my answers (which I later learned were better off left alone, REMEMBER, your first instinct is usually the best way to go) DON’T SECOND GUESS YOURSELF! I reviewed every question but still felt uncertain about the outcome once I submitted my test. When I walked back into the small waiting room I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised either way (if I passed or failed). It really is a hard exam. The proctor who had taken my identification handed me a print out of my results, I PASSED! Woohoo. I was so pumped but kept quiet because the environment was very solemn. I ran outside to my car so that I could call my Mom and boyfriend (I left my phone behind because you’re not allowed to bring it into the test facility).

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And there you have it! That was my experience with the NASM-CPT.

I was able to access my certification almost immediately via the online portal which was good because I was hired as a CPT at my local gym and already in training (but the position was contingent upon me passing the exam). A few weeks later an official certification was mailed to my home address.

Solutions To Stop Self-Sabotage

#1. EXCUSES
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Write down detailed descriptions of your GOALS. Use pictures or quotes that inspire you and write out a detailed description of how you want to FEEL when you achieve your goal. Envision it in your mind as you write, transcribe how you’re going to carry yourself once you’ve accomplished what you set out to do. Go into so much depth in the details that you have can describe what the smells around you will be like. Picture who will be standing next to you, what you’ll be wearing people, tell a story. Describe how you’re going to feel leading up to that moment and what you’re going to do immediately after. Maybe you’ll just bask in the glory of having ran a half marathon, or competed in a weight lifting competition. OR maybe it’s much simpler than that–perhaps there’s a machine at the gym you have yet to master. There is a lot of research out there that shows you are so much more likely to complete a task or reach a goal if you WRITE IT DOWN! Make your planner your best friend and you’ll never have another excuse as to why you can’t do something.

#2. LATE NIGHT EATING
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This one can be touch because depending on when you get home from work, late night eating can be unavoidable. But, as shown in my last post there is conflicting evidence regarding whether or not eating late at night is bad for your health. I personally believe that it doesn’t so much matter what time it is as it does what exactly you’re putting into your body. That being said, my solution for this issue it to prepare ready-made healthy snacks for when you’re itching to eat something late at night. Bananas with some PB2 are a great snack, and you can even add some dark chocolate chips for an extra bit of sweetness. If you’re going out, pack homemade trail mix with assorted nuts, seeds, and dried fruit that you like. It saves money AND you can customize the mix to fit your macros or personal preferences of any kind. Another way to combat late-night cravings is to make sure that you’re getting all the nutrients that you need throughout the day. If you have cravings consistently it might be because you’re lacking a certain vitamin or mineral. In that case it would be helpful for you to keep track of what you’re eating and consult a doctor or naturopath.

#3. NOT PLANNING WORKOUTS
pexels-photo-703009.jpegThis one seems straight forward, right? Well not so much for many people. Planning workouts is HARD. I recommend for the anti-planners out their to search fitness video tutorial hashtags on IG and BOOKMARK THEM! That way when you’re putting together your workouts for the week you have a point of reference. There are so many affordable, cheap, and FREE ways to plan your workouts according to your goals. You will be sorely disappointed if you expect to see results without some sort of schedule or plan. Don’t be afraid to get technical either, research the exercises that are best for the muscles that you want to target. Also, check with your local gym to see if they offer any FREE classes. My gym in college used to offer a free yoga class for ALL students, even those who were not paying members of the gym. Attending classes can give you a set schedule and help you maintain consistency. If you belong to your local YMCA there are usually an abundance of free classes offered by excellent instructors.

#4. NOT DRINKING ENOUGH WATER
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I mentioed the Hidrate water bottle in my previouspost which notifies you when to drink water and calculated how much you need to drink depending on your height/weight. But, for those of you who aren’t looking to spend $50, there are many effective ways to make sure you’re drinking enough H2O. The standard recommendation is eight 8-ounces glasses of water per-day. That means, if your standard water bottle is 18 ounces you would need to fill your bottle up about 3.5 times per day. Whatever your goal amount of water consumption is, you can use the alarm feature on your phone to set reminders when you should drink and to notify you of your goals throughout the day. Alternatively, you could use a plastic gallon of water and a permanent marker to write out the ounces that you wish to consume by certain times of day. Make it a daily ritual to drink a glass of warm water in the mornings before you consume any other liquid or food. Not only is this good for hydration purposes but it’s also great for your digestion as well, not to mention very soothing.

#5. BINGE-ANYTHING
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We all know the negative effect of binge-eating. But what’s less talked about is online bingeing. With electronic devices constantly at our fingertips it is more important now than ever to SET BOUNDARIES in our lives, and that includes with our time. Allot yourself a certain amount of hours per-day, or week, of screen time. Break this down into laptop work, phone play, and television. Prioritize the important stuff, and give yourself some room to internet surf as well. But before you do, set a timer on your phone so you’re aware BEFOREHAND of how much of your day you’re going to be giving up to the all-consuming internet. It’s much too easy to get sucked into a timewarp when you’re researching online or going through your feed on Facebook. Don’t fall victim to this time suck, be proactive. The internet is an amazing tool and it’s such a shame that when people misuse it, it gets a bad rap.

I hope that these solutions work for you. Comment below or find me on Instagram @dearfitkris to tell me if you tried any of these! And, if you haven’t yet, check out my previous post that discusses how you’re sabotaging your wellbeing.

As always, thanks for reading!

Wishing you the best,

Kristen

PLANT POWERED PLANSSUMMER 2K16!

PLANT POWERED PLANS FOR 2016!After working tirelessly these past three years in order to graduate with my B.A. in English a year early, I’ve decided to work tirelessly FOR FREE on a farm. That’s a joke… Sort of! Here is the deal, I found an awesome farm through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms cite (WWOOF Hawaii). I will be doing a work exchange on this farm in Maui for the next two months. This means that in exchange for 24 hours of work a week I will, in turn, receive housing and some food.

I love volunteer opportunities and I was so drawn to the fact that this farm also uses resources to fund therapeutic recreation for children and adults who are disabled. I’ve done a lot of community outreach volunteer work where I’m from (CT) and I can’t explain the love I have for interacting with others and the fulfillment I get from knowing that in some small way I may have brightened someone’s day (I know this isn’t altruistic, but it’s the truth)!

Often times when it comes to fitness we think in terms of appearance, weight, shape and aesthetics in general. But what I hope to do with this account is to get people to see ALL that wellness encompasses, from physical fitness to mental and spiritual health. That is why I wanted to share my plans for this summer with you, and also keep a log for myself. I want to keep myself accountable, as I plan to practice reflective meditation while traveling and expanding my horizons. This is something that my fast-paced Euro trip last summer didn’t give me much time or space for.

If you are interested in knowing more about the WWOOFing process, how I completed my degree a year early, or any of my travels don’t hesitate to ask! I want this to be a conversation forum and I also want to know, what are your plans for this summer? How do you plan to hold yourself accountable?

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to dearfitkris, your go-to place for all things wellness!

Mission statement:

I intend for dearfitkris to be a space where myself and others can cultivate knowledge by participating in important conversations regarding what it means to be in good-health. My definition of healthy encompasses physical fitness, mental health, and well-being on a soul level.

What does health mean to me?

To me, health means to be kind to oneself. Health is patience and self-acceptance. Health isn’t something you have one day and then lose the next. ‘Healthy’ is not something you can’t be if you aren’t physically well. It also shouldn’t be assumed that those who aren’t inherently ill are healthy by these same standards.

Wellness is a state of mind and a way of being. Health is something that you have to cultivate and tend to. It is a way of being with yourself that requires the secure establishment of relationships with your body, the outside world, and how you choose to intermingle the two through what you feed yourself nutritionally, and what you consume through your consciousness.

Healthy is not something that you are magically marked based on your lack of physical, mental, or emotional ailments. Being deemed “healthy” is often defined as the absence of illness. But it is so, so very much more, than that.

Frankly, defining health is a very personal thing. Not everyone’s picture of health is going to look the same. I hope to guide you on your journey to discovering what being healthy looks like for YOU!

Thank you for visiting my site. You can find a collection of my writing linked here!

Seriously, it means the world to me that out of all the fitness-blog joints in this town you wandered into my personal spot.

I can’t wait to learn, share, and grow with you.

Until next time–

Be well.