Yes, folks…social media…it makes us, it destroys us and yet it completes us. Everyone has a different take on social media and more specifically, even the type of social media…which I believe part of it is directly correlated with the age in which you were exposed to it. Being 35, my first exposure to social media, which at the time was AOL Instant Messenger…I was 18. I had just graduated high school and I thought that there was nothing better than a program that allowed me to have real time conversation with my friends that were at different colleges. It was quicker than email, allowed for multitasking while I was downloading music illegally from Napster or finishing a paper for class and didn’t run up my landline phone bills (yes, my cell phone was still about 30 cents a minute). Like all things, chat applications evolved into the ever so popular, Myspace top 8 friends…which gave people more complexes than anything else. I can’t tell you how many stalking moments I had seeing whose Top Friend’s lists I was on, but I’ll get back to that later. Myspace made way for Facebook…Twitter and Instagram followed having their own roles in the current social media phenomenon. Like everything else, the good comes with the bad and horribly ugly.
Right out of high school, because of AOL Instant Messenger I could stay in touch with friends, as we all went our own ways to college, etc. I was able to do it discreetly without the noise of a phone call (except for that pesky 14.4kbs Dial-Up…ugh), economically as I mentioned that landlines were still being used and there were no unlimited minutes plans for cell phones…if you even had a cell phone and of course it was EASY! I was 25 when I started using Myspace and had my Top 8 friends that changed as often as the weather in Chicago. I could cryptically tell a friend I was pissed at them without any confrontation…they position on my Top 8 would decline…and vice versa if I was totally enamored by someone. Facebook allowed me to share pics and videos easily so I didn’t have to wait 6 weeks to see pics of my cousin’s wedding in India or my friend’s newborn baby. Facebook lets me keep track of where I’ve been with check-ins, what movies and shows I’ve watched and lately, how much I work out keeping me accountable and for that reason others as well. Bottom line…socially speaking…social media let us all do our own thing without having to lose connections with those that mattered instantly.
Business wise, I never had a use for it until late. By utilizing Facebook, I can promote just about anything I am doing with RB for free. I can choose to put some marketing dollars towards some posts and promote them, but it’s not a requirement. I’ve connected with old acquaintances from high school that I would have never been friends with but now have a business connection with. Twitter, I love for business because it allows me to have a brief, direct conversation with a specific vendor about a specific topic…the character limit really taught me how to be concise in my thoughts. LinkedIn, still not my favorite platform, but it serves its professional purpose bringing ex-coworkers back in touch for future endeavors. I haven’t considered YouTube a huge platform for me yet, but it’s taking the world by storm that have business with visual elements, especially in food and fitness…wait…why am I not using it more? UGH. Instagram and I have a love hate relationship…it’s a following that you can build quickly with one hashtag, but it also is the most stagnant once you’ve reached a certain place. It’s a place for people to show off a single snapshot of an accidental pose…because I love taking pics of my butt…ON ACCIDENT. Nonetheless, I do like the exposure and the contacts I have made on Instagram because I do nurture those specific relationships on my posts that also drive traffic to their sites as well, besides those filters make me look so much more cut than I am! 😉
Oversharing, saturation, lack of communication…ironic enough. There is a time and place where it’s too much. Social media wasn’t created to take place of one on one communication, it was created to facilitate more communication with a wider reach. I find us using Facebook to post cryptic messages about our lives directed towards certain people that we would rather not confront. I’ve witness a Twitter war between two people sitting in the same room. We are getting away from dealing with the realities of life because we are hiding behind our computers, phones and tablets. A keyboard gives us more strength and courage than two cans and a string. The absence of body language, voice inflections and eye contact provides a facade that things are resolved. There are truths in the lies posted and unseen falsifications in honesty. The person that gloats about her boyfriend in reality is unhappy, while the person that doesn’t post about her every date night might actually be totally content in her own personal life. Reality? The man that posts a pic of him kissing his love, may actually just be that happy and isn’t afraid to show it while the woman going out by herself could really be lonely and miserable. The point is, we don’t take anything at face value anymore. We automatically assume there is much more or nothing at all. The overload of engagement photos, new baby photos, ultrasounds and pet pictures are becoming nuisances instead of someone just wanting to share with their friends a memory. I get crap all the time for posting fitness pics, workout check-ins and food pics…am I being arrogant and demeaning to those that don’t share my lifestyle? Or am I just plain old marketing my company by showing how I helped myself and how I can help others that want the same for themselves? Which one it is? Why do people assume the worst? What happened to asking questions and having a tangible conversation with someone? Because you got all the facts off my latest Facebook feed? Stop making someone else’s life your personal problem. Let them be them…if you don’t like it…YOU can make the choice to take them off your feed, not punish them for being who and what they want to be…except that we can’t handle not knowing more so than just tolerating.
This is no surprise coming off the latest presidential election…the polarization alone was enough to create a wall…oh wait. Sorry, had to get that one in there. But truly, the amount of people I turned off notifications for during this last year was astronomical. I didn’t care to hear anyone’s rhetoric left or right. Friends became enemies, lovers became divorcees and employers looked like dictators. Social media became a weapon of mass destruction instead of a tool to promote solidarity. This doesn’t just happen on national issues, this comes down to personal issues as well. Revenge, deceit, cheating and even bullying has become norms on social media overshadowing its positive power. Trolls and bullies are creating havoc in peoples’ lives because we’ve allowed ourselves to react to social media like Biff from Back to the Future. Employers are casting out future employees because of one drunk pic posted from a night out with the guys…hypocritical, considering companies are moving to a more relaxed culture focused environment to increase productivity. “Unfriending” someone is considered the end all and the final say in relationships…and reacting to someone’s post is the new courtship…that guy is totally into you since he liked your duck face picture with your Venti Crappuccino. REALLY? Fact is, social media is like one of those ancient hanging bridges in the rainforest…it’s a beautiful thing if you can cross it with careful finesse and balance, otherwise you are headed nowhere, but down.
Whether you use social media for business, personal or both, the point has always been to connect, reconnect or establish a connection with people. I try to always use social media for the powerful giant it really is, however, sure I’m guilty of getting caught up in the downside, we all are. Sometimes, we must watch our own steps of what we post because we don’t want to become a target, not because we already are one. I know that with the good, you should accept the bad…but I don’t have to accept the ugly. Thing is, what you put into what others are saying online is your own fault. No one is making you stalk your ex, secretly hate your bff for being engaged before you or even making you find your sisters new baby nauseating…that’s on you, don’t make that their problem. As for the rest of us that walk on eggshells, myself included…if you step on them enough, they will grind down to a fine powder that eventually just blows away. KEEP GRINDING.
So, I’m taking a break from fitness and nutrition this week to talk about something more personal and something I think we are all going through at this point in time. Every year, around this time, this weird phenomenon happens where we feel the need to “clean”. Maybe it’s the climb out of our winter caves that gives us this urgency to start new and fresh or maybe it’s just wanting to shed the old energy off so that we are open to something new. I don’t know what it is. For some of us, we clean our houses, closets, garages and even start house renovations. But for me, this year, my spring cleaning isn’t so literal.
It’s about friendships, relationships and people that no longer serve a long-term purpose in my life. I’m about to embark on a whole new adventure with my company that puts me in the role of leading, inspiring, influencing and hopefully touching the lives of many. Someone is going to look to me as a coach, mentor and entrust a part of them to me. For me to be available for someone else, I must have strength around me and weaknesses behind me. If I want to be the best for my clients, I need to surround myself with those that bring out the best in me. This isn’t to say that some of the people that I am moving on from are bad people, but friendships also serve their purpose. Sometimes the arguments you had with a former friend wasn’t about anything other than not seeing eye to eye anymore, because the friendship itself had run its course. Ask yourself how much you want someone in your life versus if it’s just something that exists. Do you want to be a friend that just exists in someone’s life? Or do you want to be important enough to someone where you matter? Yeah, it’s tough to let go of people and to be the one to make that first move to do so…but maybe you are saving someone else from going through something worse.
Endings aren’t fun, but without them…beginnings can’t happen. It’s not just people…it’s situations as well. We outgrow jobs, hobbies and even parts of our family. Toxic situations may be far more detrimental than a person, especially a job where someone’s well-being in on the line. Let it go. What are you gaining from something that causes you so much anguish? Sleepless nights? Stress eating? Binge drinking? Higher dental bills from grinding your teeth? I mean, is it worth it? And ask yourself again, what’s holding you back? The unknown? Fear? Tear it off like a Band-Aid, apply some Neosporin and get moving…chances are, there is so much better waiting around the corner.
Sometimes we get the rug pulled out from under us…we land firmly on our tailbones and wince in pain because guess what…yeah it hurts. Nurse that pain, don’t sweep it away…but don’t wallow in it. Look around at the floor you landed on…see how much stronger it is than that rug that just slipped out from under you. Look at how much more deeply rooted that floor is than that rug ever was. The best part…that floor has always been under there, it never left…it’s you that covered it up with something that you saw as better. Second chances…even third or fourth…whatever it may be…you get a chance to clean, wax and buff that floor to a shine that it’s never seen before. Give it a makeover…make it cherry instead of walnut…put an extra layer of protectant on it so it doesn’t scratch as easy…make it work for you in the best possible way. But remember to always keep it clean, maintained and put a little extra work it in when it gets a bit lackluster. As for the rug…it wasn’t a bad rug…it was fluffy and comfy when you first got it. It brightened your room…but then it started to wear, get a little grungy…no matter how much you deep cleaned it…the dirt was way too deep…started to eat away and the loops loosened…eventually it fell apart and you slipped on it. Don’t ever blame yourself for a worn-out rug, they aren’t meant to last forever. Not all floors can be saved, some need to be covered up, just do your due diligence and take a look before you buy a new rug…which if you do, make sure it has a better slip guard.
Spring cleaning is a time of getting rid of the old to make room for the new, maybe just bringing in new…or maybe just finally brushing off the dust to rediscover how valuable something you already have really is. However, you look at it, I think it’s important to clean house one way or another. I’m in the process of that now, and I have a crap ton of trash bags filled with things that will be donated so that someone else can reap those rewards like I did…and some bags are filled with things that no longer even resemble what they looked like when you first let them in your life. It’s painful, but also freeing. It sucks to see emptiness, especially when you are used to the clutter. You maybe even feel lost…but it’s only temporary because now you get to bring in the new and not worry about not having enough room or having to replace something old. Open your heart, free your soul and get after what you want.
Ok, so I know that I have been head down working on my certifications, and I just started my fitness nutrition certification this morning…so naturally, my food radar went up as I started to work through the content. I realized two things as I looked through my social media feed…What happened to all those annoying food pics of burgers, and pizza and handcrafted meals at Grace or Alinea? What happened to that perfect chicken breast someone cooked on the grill plated with green beans? Where are those pics, that at one point, annoyed me because I thought about how amateur they were…yeah, total snob moment on my part? I miss them. I even miss the pics that looked like bodily secretions! Lately, my feed is all about shakes, powders, supplements…with a random banana pictured next to it. Did I miss something? Are we all a part of the space project? I’ve seen MREs better looking than some of the green and brown liquids that are littering my social media feeds. I just don’t understand where all the food went…When did powders become a way of life when fertile land still exists? Read on….
Supplements in powder form aren’t a new phenomenon. Since the mid 1800’s, athletes have been using creatine as well as other supplements in addition to their high calorie diets. The supplements were there to promote strength, athletic endurance and even some metabolic functions. Not one source promoted supplements as anything more. But, again, we are talking about Olympians and other competing athletes. Using that as a basis, scientists came out with supplements that were more every day consumer friendly and offered a secondary nutrition option that was to be balanced with good food and nutrition during meal time. Meals were always still given importance. Remember Ovaltine? I still put it in my milk…YES, I still drink milk! From a COW! Also, growing up, Carnation Instant Breakfast? That stuff was engineered for kids running out of the house, but it was still to be dissolved in MILK. Not once was it ever advertised as something that can or should always take place of a full meal…especially for children. Then came the Slim Fast revolution that was targeted for weight loss. “A shake for dinner, a shake for lunch…and then a balanced dinner?” …well, there we have it, the first generation of meal replacement. This is where I start to get nervous……
Now, when Slim Fast came out, I was too young to care or even be concerned with it…only saw it in commercials. As an adult…no way. I can’t even begin to understand this craziness. As a chef, it embarrasses me. As a fitness professional…I haven’t formed an opinion. As a purist…HECK NO! I did a blog last year some time about meal replacement bars and did a bunch of reviews on them. Even then, I preached that there is no reason for a bar to ever replace natural food. However, certain bars contain ingredients that are food product…I can see the meat, berries and grains in a bar…and can be used as a food replacement as needed, but not as a main course for dinner. A tan log-shaped bar that feels like modeling clay isn’t food and there isn’t a single person out there that can convince me to eat that over a meal. Now, there are powders everywhere, not just bars! Here’s a shake pre-workout, drink one after a workout, here’s a different one for lunch and then have a piece of kale for dinner…or heck, just eat a whole pizza…you earned it! Is it a time thing? A “I can’t cook or eat to save my life” thing? Or “I can’t lose the weight, I need something now” thing? My guess…this is a combination of all of the above, none of which I find acceptable. For those that use powder supplements before and after workouts, AS SUPPLEMENTS…carry on, I can understand the need for extra protein within 2 hours of your workout and not being near a kitchen to make it from scratch…there are exceptions. What I’d like to debunk…are the other 3 theories listed above:
A “time” thing…your body makes time for you, it’s good to you when you are good to it. You have time to measure out powder product, put it in a blender, add the obligatory banana and hit “blend”. You spend the time researching what products to use between Beach Body and Isagenix. I’m sure you do the research in what ingredients on in the powders, which ones have the best benefits, and read reviews on how they taste…right? You have the time to find product that takes place of having to grocery shop, cut up vegetables, cook up some chicken breasts, cook a batch of overnight oats and even portion out fresh berries and nuts to snack on. How long does it take to measure out 1/2 cup of blueberries and a hand full of almonds into a Ziploc baggie? You get the same number of antioxidants, protein and nutrients as some of the suggested shakes. Lunch? If you spend just a little time on Sunday night, baking/grilling 4 chicken breasts for the week, portioning out kale, grape tomatoes, walnut pieces, a sprinkle of parmesan and lemon juice/olive oil. Just 20 minutes on a Sunday, gives you a lunch salad for at least 5 days of the week. That’s 5 less minutes a day you have to prep a shake, instead you get a meal with ingredients that you can see, taste and experience…not just drink. It’s not a “time” thing…it’s starting to look more like a “lazy” thing. Why should I spend time grocery shopping, then prepping my meals for the week? Why should your body give you the time of day when you put ingredients in your system that you can’t spell or say…I mean, “Isomaltooligosaccharide powder”…go ahead, try and say that correctly, then tell me what it is without looking it up. I’d rather put things like “chicken”, “kale” and “tomatoes” (that last one can be tricky) in my body…I’ll make time for that, at least I don’t have to waste my time trying to pronounce it or identify it.
The “I can’t cook” issue…I don’t care who you are and what pre-prepped items you buy…it’s not a reason to just give up and just start eating/drinking like a person with a feeding tube. Learning how to eat is the most important thing you can teach yourself. I understand cooking isn’t everyone’s forte, but there are remedies for that. Sure, using meal replacement shakes alleviates any thought process as an adult with no children, a busy lifestyle and really not giving a crap. What happens when you have children? Do you teach them that food is only nutritious in shake form? That all essential nutrients come from a powder? I’ve taught children that couldn’t tell me what the difference between a blueberry and tomato is because they were never taught about food or nutrition. They’ve never tasted either because their parents never exposed them to those ingredients. I’ve even had a child tell me that he’s never bitten into the flesh of a strawberry because he’s only seen it go into a shake. Forget children, if you are so reliant on meal replacement shakes and don’t know how to eat, what happens when your doctor says that you can’t drink those anymore? That your body isn’t processing some of those chemically produced nutrients as efficiently as when you were 25. What happens then? What are you going to do? Do you know anything about what power greens are? What is the balance of protein and fat content in what types of meat? Or are you that person that goes to Wendy’s and orders the salad with 2 cups of dressing and thinks that’s healthy because it has lettuce? Fact is, there is no substitution to learning how to eat real, tangible food. Drinking a somewhat naturally flavored strawberry shake isn’t the same experience as sinking your teeth into a sweet, voluptuous summer strawberry with juices running down your chin…and honestly, nature in its purest form is the most honest thing you can put in your body.
Ok…weight loss…aka, QUICK FIX. If I have to read one more ad about how you don’t need to exercise to lose weight and only need to drink shakes, I’m gonna lose it. JUST STOP. That is a load of crap and I don’t believe in quick fixes. It actually infuriates me. That’s a statement made by a predator preying on one of the number one insecurities in most people. It’s designed to give people hope that have been struggling to lose weight, not because they can’t…but because it’s not happening as fast as they want it, or that they have been on every other yo-yo fad diet that didn’t work. Laziness inserts itself here again. GET UP OFF YOUR LAZY BUTT AND GET ACTIVE!!! Weight loss is a process that is mental, physical and emotional. It comes slow, but when done properly, it’s something that is sustainable…even if you take a break for a week. What happens when you “cleanse” for a week? You lose a little of your belly pooch to fit into that bikini for vacation? Did you really lose the weight? Did you change anything in your life to sustain that for the future? Or are you going to spend another $200 a week before your next vacation to do the same thing? What happens when you get invited to an impromptu last minute vacation with only 48 hours to prep? What about then? Your flabby abs can’t be saved from the public then, now can they? You going to turn down that hot date on this amazing yacht with this new guy you are crushing on because you didn’t “cleanse” that week? How is drinking shakes for a “cleanse” a long-term weight loss solution?? You swear by those shakes this week, next week…the FDA finds something that isn’t compliant and it’s no longer available…What are you going to do then?? Where will you spend your $200 then? A good gym? A few sessions with a trainer? A nutrition coach? Nope, you’ll jump onto the next “quick-fix” bandwagon until that one takes you over the cliff. There is no self-reliant component, responsibility for your own poor choices and well, why would you think about what you have done to yourself when you can pay a company money to tell you that it’s not your fault and that they have the ultimate solution!! If you think these companies really care about a long-term solution to weight loss, they don’t…the more often you find your pooch growing back, you will pay them again…they aren’t stupid. Hook, line and sinker. Pro-Tip: Get up, get out, get educated on long term weight loss, eat whole foods, exercise regularly…it costs less, it’s sustainable through all phases of life and best of all, the results are even better than you can ever imagine. That one I can personally attest to.
I know I have pissed people off today with this blog, and some I may have even educated. I don’t care to be PC when it comes to something that I live and breathe by choice and by profession. If you are one of those that swears by meal replacement shakes, that’s your prerogative, but it’s my responsibility to point out some obvious truths that may have offended you…which in turn, if you were offended, it means that there is a part of you that might actually agree with me. I don’t hate meal replacement/supplement products. They have their importance to those that use them for the right reasons for recovery, replenishment and even metabolic efficiency. I hate that these products are being advertised and thrown at a weak population looking for the next “quick-fix” by individuals, of which some aren’t qualified to speak to the actual nutritional benefits. Why should someone pay for a nutritionist when they have their friend on Facebook educating them on the benefits of a meal replacement shake? Of course, they are totally qualified to talk to YOU about YOUR body and how this product worked for then and it WILL WORK FOR YOU. Start looking at who is saying what and why…not everyone is right. I believe in a holistic, food driven approach to nutrition and weight loss. I didn’t lose the weight because of a shake…I lost it and kept it off because I took the time to learn how to eat, took the time to cook for myself, made time to exercise and learned that what you I put into my body is what I ultimately get out of it. I don’t preach a product, I preach a process, no blender required.
Well, I did it…I passed! 10 weeks of grueling studying, week after week learning something even more confusing than the week before…but it came down to 120 questions, 45 minutes and that “Submit” button that will quite possible change my life. It wasn’t hard, it wasn’t easy…it was a true testament though of inner strength and perseverance in the worst moments. Through this whole process though, one of my greatest and worst resources were other fitness blogs that talked about their study process, how they felt about the material, the exam itself and of course…their results. Some really screwed with my head and others calmed my nerves a bit. I decided this blog was for future CPT’ers and I hope I can provide some valuable information, tips and maybe some comfort…so here we go.
Jan. 3, 2017
Day 1 of my guided study class…yes, I paid the 1300 bucks for the whole enchilada. I didn’t care what it cost, but I sure wasn’t going to be left with my own devices and a book. There was no way that was going to end well. I truly suggest you understand how you learn things and what your study habits are, because it truly makes the biggest difference in how this process turns out for you. There are no shortcuts that make this any easier, I promise you that. The guided study is set up in “modules” that cover each chapter one by one. Each module has the reading (if you are an online reader, I’m an old-school book person), demos for cueing, case studies, interactive activities, discussion questions and a final quiz for that section. You also get a syllabus and your NASM mentor will send out reminders each week when the chapters are due. You don’t have to adhere to the schedule verbatim, God knows I didn’t…life happens. I have a company to run and other obligations that needed to be balanced with this. You have to make your own schedule, don’t put it off and have a mental date set for when you want to take the actual certification exam. I knew that my class was done on March 13th, I wanted to take the exam on March 20th. I didn’t schedule it though until later…just give yourself a completion date, it really helps when you are getting close to the end!
Ok, to be honest…the first week, I nailed it…just like when I was in school. Took notes, made flashcards, got it all done before the “due date” which is normally a week. I was excited and had a new notebook and new pens…and new post-its and highlighters in fluorescent colors! I even got a red backpack to hold all my stuff including my laptop so I could study on the fly! It doesn’t get any nerdier than that. But, whatever it takes to keep motivated…DO IT!
So, that worked well for about 2 weeks and then things started to get harder and harder and that pink highlighter was not doing it for me anymore. Chapter 3 was brand new…know this like the back of your hand, not because they will ask you what the sagittal plane is, but because it will be the easiest part to know of a more complicated question. I can’t stress enough that knowing all the motions in the planes, around what axis and where and to what relation it is on the body is CRUCIAL. Again, this is an easy thing to master so that you can work through some of the more difficult things later. I found myself coming back to this chapter many times to help clarify something even more complicated.
Chapters 4,5,6…were huge, take 2 weeks to learn it if you are on the weekly schedule. Take as long as you need to learn it…bottom line. Remember the term Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO) like it’s the password to your email address. Also, pay attention to the reciprocal inhibition, altered reciprocal inhibition and synergistic dominance…basically all movements around joints and muscles. Also, know the heart…know what it does, how it works, how to check pulse, where to check pulse…I can’t tell you how many questions on the heart I have had to answer in later practice exams. The kinetic chain is a huge thing as well, it will come back to haunt you in so many ways you will scream. Again, you won’t get a straight up question about this stuff, but it will be referenced in more of the scenario questions about program design.
Metabolic functions, I kid you not, were the worst concepts for me to remember. We’ve all learned them before in a biology class somewhere, well it’s baaaaaaack! And this time, it’s even more important than before. The direct correlations between metabolic functions and exercise is astounding. I was floored at how integrated the two are, even though I know that metabolism is a huge part of weight loss and fitness. I wish I had spent more time then learning this, because I ended up looking at this for hours just weeks before the exam. Nail this, and you nail a good portion of this domain on the exam, which they couple together as Basic & Applied Sciences & Nutritional Concepts…about 17% of the exam.
Other areas of focus: Flexibility Continuum, Heart Rate Measurements, Training Sciences
Assessments were my best chapters…know then back and forth. There are ton of questions on overactive/underactive muscles. Get up and go through the motions, find out what it feels like to you when you rotate your knees in during a squat or how your back feels when you raise your shoulders during a pulling assessment. Static assessments, same thing…know it like the back of your hand…because later you will need to know how to apply a certain stretch to those muscles. Also, know the difference between shortened/lengthened and active/underactive…they aren’t the same. Table 9.13…compensations…act them all out, it’ll save room in your brain, let your body remember it. I got up quite a few times during my exam to go through a squat so I could recall the muscle movements. It’s called kinetic learning. I don’t learn well just by memorizing a table. I had to get up and move around and let me body learn and transmit the answer to my brain. All the tables in Chapter 9 are VALID and need to be learned. I won’t sugar coat this, you will not pass if you do not somehow learn this. Learn the what subjective and objective information is when you start to gather information from a client…also…TWO WORDS: Iliac Crest…never forget it. Find ways to remember things like READ and examples of each level of READ. Rockport and YMCA-3 Minute test…know the differences, which one comes first and what each is used for…but don’t get caught up in the tables with the numbers…just know how this affect zone training. Special populations training is actually a lot of common sense, trust what you already know.
Conquer Assessments, it’s not hard, it’s easy if you put your body into it and free up your mind for how much more there is still yet to come…it’s another 18% on the exam you can nail.
Other areas of focus: Effects of medication on Heart Rate/Blood Pressure, Pregnant clients, PAR-Q
Program Design…one of the heaviest weighted domains at 21% Understand what a typical training session is made up of. You will know these terms if you have any experience with personal training. Again, don’t get caught up in the tables that have sample schedules on them…it’s a lot of info that you don’t need to memorize. TEMPO…know that for each phase in the OPT….rest periods and intensity are also recurring in exam questions. Acute variables, look for that term in every chapter after this one. This is something that I struggled with at some points, because it kept biting me on the butt…learn what they are, how they apply and how they differ from phase to phase. This domain isn’t about one chapter, it’s more of a crossover section. You will need to know what tempo means in order to answer a question about how many reps a strength training client in the Hypertrophy Phase must do and the appropriate rest period range.
Exercise Technique and Training Instruction...the most complicated and the meat of this whole exam. Honestly though, it’s the reason why you probably are taking this certification. LEARN IT, PRACTICE IT. OWN IT. Learn what FITTE is and why it’s used. It’s not a question straight up, but you need to know it. I totally forgot about it until a later practice exam and ended up screwing it up. Learn each phase and why you would take a client through exercises in those phases. Again, know the sets, reps, rest and frequency of exercises in each phase. Force Velocity curve…Concentric, Eccentric and Isometric functions…practice exercises that represent those terms. Chapter 15, I ignored at first and then I couldn’t grasp one of the interactivities in my module about progression and regressions of exercises. I went back to Chapter 15, spent 2 hours in the gym for 4 days going through the regressions and progression of each exercise. Again, don’t try and memorize them, LEARN THEM. Let your body teach them to you. You will notice patterns…I used an acronym to remember a certain progression…TAO…Two arms, to alternating to one arm. Make that something you NEVER forget. Learn proprioception…what it is, why it’s used and how in each phase. At this point, you will notice that there are less flashcards and more mental notes. Trust what your body is telling you, and let kinetic learning do its job so you don’t freak out about all the words and memorization. I created scenarios for myself and acted them out, I asked others for scenarios to challenge my knowledge even more. I re-read these chapters a few times and only understood half, it wasn’t until I started to get my body involved that I was able to grasp more. Find patterns in the information that keep coming back to certain phases…stability ball, Stabilization…dumbbells, Strength Endurance-Hypertrophy-Maximal Strength…medicine ball, Power. You will see consistent terms, equipment and directives that apply to each level respectively and the answers will be more obvious if you only focus on the key words…don’t get caught up in the “stories” in the questions on the exam…they are there to distract you!!!!
Other areas of focus: Kinetic checkpoints, triple extension, proper running form, look at the cueing techniques for each exercise in Chapter 15. Note…the interactivity on the module has pictures of exercises that ask you to determine progression or regression…THERE ARE NO PICS ON THE EXAM! Know the terms.
Flexibility..SMR…foam rolling…CRUCIAL INFO…understand why.
Muscle Action Spectrum…know why the muscles move the way they do during an exercise and how they move. What exercises involve what muscles and in what capacity…agonist, antagonist or synergist…..KNOW SPECIFICS!
Don’t fret if you don’t master this right away, keep going back. Think about it every time you work out. The more you can apply to your own life and your own experiences in the gym, the more the information will be easier to adapt and understand. This isn’t meant to be hard, it’s mean to be a practical application of fitness science.
The last 2 domains are about how to relate to clients, behavior of clients, your own behavior and approaches as well as your responsibilities and development as a NASM-CPT. This stuff is straight up common sense. I own my own business, so most of the marketing stuff was second nature to me. Understand SMART goals and focus on Chapter 16, not just because of the exam, but it was really good to understand that stuff as it’s actually about real life and dealing with clients.
THE QUIZZES/EXAMS/PRACTICE EXAMS
Not going to beat this to death…but…if you are using the guided study…do all of it. The quizzes you can take as many times as you want. I did them when I read those chapters without looking up answers first and then again after I reviewed what I missed. I went back in the week before the exam and did each quiz again, after I did the practice final exam to hone in on those areas that I wasn’t strong in. Take all exams without the temptation to look up the answers…be true to yourself and really find out what you don’t know. Now, here’s on issue I kept having as I was going through the practice exams before I took the final…I knew the right answers not because I knew the material, but because I was starting to memorize the answers as written. There was no other explanation as to how I went from a 70% and then a 99%…well, duh. I knew what the wrong answer was, and memorized the right answer…not because I knew why the right answer was accurate. I found a few third-party sites that had practice exams that shocked me and made me realize how much I hadn’t retained and how much was memorization. Dynamic-Path.com offers 473 exam questions ($6.99), that are worded differently than NASM that drastically helped me improve on what I thought I knew versus what I did. I failed miserably…and I couldn’t be more grateful that I had failed that practice exam. This was my pinnacle point where I knew I may actually fail this exam. It made me dissect every domain question by question.
THE CPT EXAM
Remember when I told you to create that mental date? Well make it official 3-4 weeks out! It’s totally a mental thing, but it gives you a timeline to work with. It truly curbs any procrastination and makes you focus. I can’t tell you what’s on the exam, that would be considered cheating. Ian Montel, Managing Editor for NASM had a test taking webinar that walked through the domains, test tips and was a good resource when I was studying. Now that I have taken this exam and passed it…here are my tips:
- TRUST YOURSELF
- TRUST WHAT YOU KNOW
- TRUST YOUR GUT, INITIAL INSTINCT
- DON’T OVER-THINK
- FLAG QUESTIONS THAT MADE YOU THINK MORE THAN A FEW SECONDS
- USE OTHER QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU ANSWER ONES THAT YOU MAY HAVE FLAGGED
- GET UP AND ACT OUT WHATEVER YOU NEED TO IN THE TESTING CENTER
- YOU WILL BE NERVOUS, USE IT.
- ONCE YOU ANSWER THE FIRST QUESTION, BREATHE…YOU GOT THIS.
This exam isn’t set up for failure, it’s not. As a matter of fact, it’s there to do the opposite. You have all the answers…NASM hides nothing. There is nothing on the exam you haven’t at some point read. The test really is a measure of application more than memorization. When you work as a trainer, how many times are you going to explain the definition of a bicep versus explaining to a client the reasoning for the exercise to strengthen the bicep? Think about it. Anyone can tell someone what something is, but the approach of NASM is to apply science to fitness for trainers to truly understand the functionality of training and how it applies to a client’s everyday life. I had my struggles and triumphs, trust me…but fight through it because the end results far exceeded how I thought I would feel. My elation, empowerment, and confidence is beyond something I have ever felt…but more so, I learned something even more valuable…I learned to TRUST MYSELF, it was always there to begin with.