Remember when I was getting up at 5am to study for that little thing called the NASM Personal Trainer exam? Remember when I told you all that I passed? I remember all that too! But I never really touched more upon the issue once I passed. I was really happy to be done with studying and have that off my plate so I never did that follow-up post. But today is the day and it’s better late than never! So here is the low down on my Personal Trainer Certification, question and answer style!
Why did you select NASM to certify with?
I was looking for a challenging program. I felt since I had a degree in Chemistry I’d be able to learn more detailed information about nutrition and the muscles of the body. The ACSM certification is often noted as the hardest exam and the most clinical. Since I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do with the certification I didn’t feel going for the hardest one was the best choice. I contacted a few gyms and found out what most of their trainers had and what they recommended. Most suggested NASM or ACE. After I narrowed it down to those two it came down to the money and the benefits of the program. NASM is done on your own, at your own pace. You are provided with a textbook, videos and online practice tests and questions to help you understand the information. You can call them anytime with questions and talk over the phone or can do a chat via the web. I never actually used that support but it was comforting to know it was there should I need it. At the time NASM had a special so with shipping and everything it cost me just over $500 to sign up for it. I had 180 days from the date of purchase to study for and complete the exam.
How did you prepare for the exam?
I set out with the intention of doing two chapters per week and then studying and taking practice exams for about 2 weeks before the test. All in all I had hoped that it would take 3 to 4 months to study and get certified. Like most things, life was busy with the holiday season and training for Boston and changes at my job so there was a good month where I did not study at all. It took me the full 6 months to prepare. I read each chapter, made a study guide for it, made flash cards for the vocabulary words, watched the videos, and did all of the practice questions. About every 3 to 4 chapters I’d go back and review all of the study guides I’d created. I also was constantly going through the flash cards. Once I completed the chapters I reviewed all the material once and printed and made notes on the NASM study guide. Then I started taking the practice exams. I made notes of the areas I continually struggled with and focused on studying those areas. In the final days before the exam all I did was take practice tests and look at the flashcards.
What was the exam like?
The exam was 180 multiple choice questions. Of those questions 20 were for research purposes and did not count towards the exam score. I took the test at a testing center and it was all done on the computer. For entry in to the exam I had to have a valid CPR certification (this cost me another $75 and about 3 hours of my time) and my license. The exam was very similar to the practice tests and just as I had suspected focused a lot on the overhead squat assessment. I was very happy I memorized the body positions, overactive and under-active muscles and the exercises to correct the weaknesses. You have an hour and a half to complete the exam butt took me only about an hour and 10 minutes.
When do you get your results?
Once you complete the exam, the proctor closes your session and is able to print your score for you right there. NASM is a pass/fail exam and that is all you will know. To pass though you must get over a 70%. Standing and waiting those few minutes for the results is a bit nerve-racking especially since if you fail you have to purchase a re-test for an additional $200!! If you pass, you receive your certificate in the mail about 4 weeks later.
What do you plan to do with your certification?
Honestly, I’m not sure. At the very least I’m happy to have it for my blog. Now I can be sure the words and advice I give here are accurate. When I first signed up I had planned on working as a personal trainer until I completed my yoga certification. Then I would create a mix of personal training hours and teaching yoga. I did interview at a few gyms but I discovered that most require that you sign an agreement stating you will only teach and train at that gym and would not work at a competitor within a 20 mile radius. This included teaching at yoga studios. Teaching yoga is my true goal and I viewed personal training as a supplement to that so when I learned this I quickly realized that this wasn’t the right plan of action for me. Since then my career goals have shifted and I prefer working a regular day job, I hope to teach yoga at nights and on the weekends. That is the plan for right now but you never know where life will lead you. I’ve considered setting up some sort of online training program and working with blog readers and the like but ultimately I would rather wait complete my yoga certification and become a running coach. In that case I’d want to work with runners and yogis and help them to incorporate both of those things into their workouts since that is where my passion lies. So it seems for now I’m just a certified personal trainer with a blog who helps create plans and give advice to my friends and family.
Hopefully that gives you a good overview of the exam and my plans for my certification!