Secrets of NASM - a Quest for Certification

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  1. Secrets of NASM - a Quest for Certification

    A bunch of us started talking about working as trainers & getting certified, and I decided to jump for it. Thanks to the guys who encouraged me to run this log, and I hope this will be useful for others who are considering a similar move.

    Once I started looking into it, it became plain that I was narrowing in on NASM. They seemed a step up from ACE (no offense intended), more focused than ISSA, and more attainable than ACSM or NSCA. If I were able to piggy-back off an applicable BS or MS degree, I’d have gone w/ NSCA.

    I found the website to be badly designed (but maybe I’m just stupid) - I kept getting the feeling that I was going in circles - so I finally called to get straight answers to my questions; they folks @ NASM were pleasant, helpful, and efficient, I got my answers and bought my study course & test.

    The components of my package :
    a hard-bound textbook;
    7 VHS tapes
    a “study guide (/ day planner)?
    study cards
    practice exam
    final exam
    “Foundations for the Health and Fitness Professional? on CD-ROM (Mac/Wintel)
    a weekend OPT workshop

    This package cost $650.

    Be aware that the “prequel? course, (part of the Full package), is available in Mac & Windows flavors - be sure to ask - they won’t. There is a CD-ROM study-guide-&-printable-text set you can get instead of the videotapes for the certification test - this CD-ROM set is WINDOWS ONLY, so you’re warned here, too.

    “Foundations for the Health and Fitness Professional? is a duh-level introduction: while not worthless, a lot of it is just applied common sense. It won’t teach you much, but it won’t hurt you either, and it’s not bad to occasionally have the obvious spelled out.

    The videotapes are of the talking-head variety. #1 of the set has a loud & irritating noise that interferes with the actual audio; since the audio carries 99 percent on the information (so far - I’m on tape 2), the usefulness of tape #1 is compromised by the effort needed to keep blocking out the hum & zeroing in on the voice.

    NASM’s estimate of the time required to master the material is 45 days; I’m running late. Partly because I had to return the (windows) CD-ROM, partly because I’m in the middle of breaking up w/ my wife & that has seriously eroded my ability to concentrate.

    For the record, swapping the CD-ROM set was totally painless: one phone call, 30 seconds on hold, and 2 days later, UPS brought the replacement & picked up the return @ no charge to me.

    I consider the service excellent so far, but could be improved by providing more practical information up-front.

    Next installment soon!

  2. sweet, looking forward to this.

  3. Looks good...subscribing

  4. Once you learn everything and take the final exam you'll only have to unlearn almost everything you learned in order to become a good trainer

  5. Thanks for doing this log Body Wizard. I have some free time coming my way and I'm planning on doing the same. Good luck with the certification, and with the breakup. It must be tough.

    Did you look into buying used materials? Or do they require you to buy it from them?

  6. BodyWizard NASM is a good choice. I"m an NASM cert PT myself and know a lot of clubs liked the fact that I didn't have some bs cert like you can get off the internet.

    I found most clubs wanted ACE before but now are switching to NASM as it's a bit more involved especially in the area of helping special populations (ie injuries/elderly ect..). Anyway good luck bro and keep us posted. If you have any question hit me up.

  7. So do you take the final exam at home? Great idea starting this log.

  8. This is a great idea for a log. This is something I'm considering doing, also, just for a little extra cash on the side while taking classes for pre-pharm... Looking forward to seeing how it comes out.

  9. Quote Originally Posted by jminis
    BodyWizard NASM is a good choice. I"m an NASM cert PT myself and know a lot of clubs liked the fact that I didn't have some bs cert like you can get off the internet.
    Yea man, also certified through NASM and would recommend it to anyone. Best (IMO) non-sports science required cert out there. In fact, there's a few clubs here in NY that only takes NASM certified trainers. Go figure

  10. Episode 2 - The Videos

    Given that I've let a lot of time slip through my fingers w/ the certification (and this log) I've been concentrating on the 7 videotapes that are part (maybe even the bulk) of the study materials. at roughly 2 hours each, the videos are crammed pretty full, and I expect I'll be watching all 7 at least twice.

    The material on the tapes adheres to two basic approaches: classroom lectures, and gym-floor practical demos. The presenters are capable, and certainly have a strong grip on their materials, but the static approach of the lecture segments (unbroken by slides, diagrams, bullet-points - yet interspersed w/ face shots of the lecture audience) make it easy for my attention to wander, and for drowsiness to set in. This is too bad, because there's a lot of information being presented at a pretty fast clip.

    The gym practicals are much better: it's not perfect, of course, but it is very useful to watch the assessments & stretching demos, etc. and the non-stop flow of information covers a great deal of territory - though again, at break-neck speed.

    Another obstacle to concentration is the variable production quality. I mentioned the noise on tape 1; tape 2 is nice & quiet, easy to hear & follow by comparison; however tape 3 not only suffers from the same noise as the first (tho much less obtrusive / more intermittent), it also suffers from random changes in volume, at various times going either louder or quieter than normal. Though not extreme (so far), it is distracting and annoying - and very unprofessional for a training product presented by a professional organisation.

    Once I've made it through all the tapes, I'll describe the contents of each tape (since no listing or breakdown of the contents is provided) & provide comments on the material itself; so far, however, I don't feel that my time or money has been wasted.

    In the next installment, I'll go over the printed material, and deal with some other stuff related to the course.
    Last edited by BodyWizard; 06-03-2005 at 09:47 AM.

  11. Nice thread. I plan on going with NASM myself soon ..

  12. hit another old buddy of mine lost his (cute, Ukranian) receptionist & I'm filling in. Nothing disastrous, just another chunk of time gone.

    Here's a fun fact about the NASM cert: when you buy the test & study materials, a clock starts ticking: you have 4 months in which to complete the material & take the test. (FYI - testing is handled via independent testing services, NOT on-line)

    An extension can be purchased ($75 US) if need be: my clock runs out in just under a month, so I'll be extending.

  13. I didn't know you were Ukranian

  14. neither did I!

  15. Hey BW, do you know if you have to buy the package to take the test? Can you buy the materials used, and then take the test? I'm just wondering b/c I really want the cert this summer, but I don't think I'll be able to afford it.

  16. *Great* question - thanks!

    Actually, it's the TEST that costs - the materials are practically free, in comparison: the lowest-cost option is the on-line practice test and the actual exam - that's $500; by contrast, the most expensive is just $150 more.

    Here's the page:

  17. Thanks BW, I had checked that out but I obviously didn't figure it out. Now it makes sense

  18. bump for updates BW???

  19. I got NASM certified about 10 years ago in a three and a half day seminar in Dallas, I went to work for Golds and had a great time doing it, good luck I think u will enjoy it....

  20. good thread, good info. Good luck!!!

  21. I happen to be getting my NASM cert right now too. I'm a kinesiology major in school and got hired as a PT at a 24 hour fitness. Pay gets bumped up to 15/hr if you get a cert, so I figured why not, I need the money to pay the bills. So far it seems pretty basic and straight forward. I'm not into the whole "do exercises on a stability ball for 8 weeks first to correct postural deviations" bull****, but it doesn't seem so terrible.

  22. Sorry for the long absence, gents...and basically, that apology is all I have for you today. Between my wife moving back in & back out again. (6 rounds of which since I started this log, most recently Friday), the stress and expense of readying & delivering my daughter to her university, and the need to find a new job at 54 (the last few years have been unkind to my retirement fund), I have progressed not at all in the last 3 months; I did buy a 3-month extention, and it looks like I'll be buying another one ($75 US/per).

    anyway, I have "stuff up" about how the last few months (last couple of decades, actually) have turned out, so I'll just apologise once again for having let the log slip, and assure everyone that I WILL get back with this.

  23. Brennon, if you're young, strong, and have good neuromuscular integration, then yes, the swiss-ball stuff probably does seem silly. For someone who's been seriously injured or seriously ill, they need to train small, obscure muscles with the same focus and attention that you might put toward the major muscle groups. for people who are starting at (or close to) zero, the unstable-bearing-surface aids such as swiss balls & rocker boards & such are powerful tools.

  24. Just for a heads-up, I'm off this weekend to NASM's OPT workshop: two long days of hands-on, in-person contact w/ the Optimum Performance Training model.

    Expect a (semi-) detailed commentary before the end of next week.

  25. I passed the exam earlier this week. Wasn't too bad.

  26. OK, so I spent the last 2 days in a weekend OPT workshop. In addition to people like me, who are interested in getting into training others, there were currently-certified trainers picking up continuing-ed credits, and several gym/club owners were present by invitation - I guess to encourage them to accept NASM-certified trainers in their gyms.

    The workshop was in a hotel near the airport, which is sort of neutral, but it was on an unmarked sidestreet, invisible from the main road & from the interstate and almost unsigned (a hidden Marriot - go figure...). After finding the place & getting inside, right away there was a problem: the equipment for the workshop (tubing & swiss balls mostly, I gathered) was MIA. This could have been a disaster, but the guy doing the workshop made disaster impossible. He was master of the material (& the main presenter of anatomy & kinetics(?) in the videotapes), and had no problem improvising his way through thh situation.

    Anyway the OPT model is NASM's big hook; basically it observes that to serve the largest number of people, training should progress through seven phases and three levels: stabilisation (ensuring a solid foundation) to strength (increasing load) and to power (increasing speed).

    This is from my notes:

    Stabilisation (controlled unstable platform kinesthetic programming)
    Phase 1: Corrective - postural distortions, developmental imbalances
    Phase 2: Stabilising - neuromuscular integration, body working as unit

    Strength (solidify foundation, balance strength, hypertrophy, endurance)
    Phase 3: Stabilisation equivalent - controlled instability under load
    Phase 4: Hypertrophy
    Phase 5: Max Strength

    Power (ability to express physical force at speed)
    Phase 6: elastic equivalent - ???
    Phase 7: max power

    we didn't really cover the power phases, mostly (I think) because of the 'wardrobe malfunction', but the presenter said 5 & 6 were basically just 4 & 5 with a change in focus & a corresponding tweaking of workout variables, not something qualitatively different from phases 4 & 5.

    This highlights the really cool thing about OPT: it offers a conceptual structure for tweaking workouts & program strategies that's easy to understand and apply, easy to modify & adapt, and a wide range of things to tweak & ways to them. The whole point of OPT, and therefore what NASM has built itself around, is program design, program adaptability, constantly challenging the body where it's weakest, constantly changing up the nature of the challenge.

    The goal is not to serve fat-losers or weight-lifters or speed-skaters but to help ANYBODY become stronger/more active/more agile/more able as a way of reaching their goals.

    I couldn't have articulated any of this before (although I may have tried), but the workshop really brought a lot of this together for me. I wish I had gone to a workshop back when I started this: I would have had a much clearer idea of what I was about, and would certainly have gotten more value out of the time spent studying to date. My advice would be to do the workshop early.

    At this point, I think my next step is to take the practice test & see how I do on it

  27. Hey BW, please report as to whether this is a go! I know you have been going under certain personal strain, but just interested in seeing what happens!

  28. Hey BW, if you have an email please let me know, I have to ask you something when you get the chance. THanks.

  29. I am doing the same pretty soon here. I know studying for it will take some time, but the reward is worth it.

  30. I just recently learned that I passed my CSCS exam
    I couldn't be happier.

    Good luck to all of you that strive toward educating yourselves in any way. All the studying is worth much more than a few letters after your name.


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