Hi. I'm Sara!

I am extremely passionate about all things health - while not letting it take over your life.  I love efficient workouts, easy healthy meal ideas and all kinds of tips and tricks to help you become a stronger version of yourself

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Getting My ACSM CPT Certification

After many years of talking about it I am finally {FINALLY} a certified personal trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine {ACSM}.  That sounds so fancy and official.

Number one thing I looked at was other trainers and their certifications.  The ones I most respected had either ACSM or NASM although more seem to have NASM.  I read this post which had me leaning a little bit more towards ACSM.  Basically it boiled down to reading that ACSM has the lowest pass rate, which means the test you take is the hardest.  You have to really know your stuff to pass, so people that pass must be really smart.  Obviously I wanted the best certification possible so I chose ACSM.  I then used that as my running joke when people would ask how studying was going.  “It’s really hard because I’m a giant overachiever and had to pick the hardest program available…”

Why Personal Training
5 years ago I had just started run coaching and although I liked my day job I wasn’t super passionate about it.  I figured in a few years when I got married and had kids I would want a “mom job” aka something I could do at home.  {More about how that panned out can be found in this post}  However fitness will always be something that interests me {not just making clothes that are used for fitness} and learning more is never a bad thing.  I liked having a run coach certification but that only got me so far and doesn’t qualify you to give really helpful advice when it comes to strength training or cross training.

February 2014 – Purchased text books

March 2014 – June 2015 – Studied on and off but mostly off.  Resources for the Personal Trainer isn’t necessarily a bad book, but it is a lot of information to take in all at once.  It is difficult to know what to spend time on and what not to spend time on without a good frame of reference of all the material.  I found myself getting caught up on tiny little things in the beginning of the book because I thought I would need them later on to understand everything else.

August 2015 – Accepted a new job & decided to sell the our house, real life took priority over a dream that wasn’t even related to my career.  Studying took a hard stop.

April 2016 –  Began looking into other certifications such as Spin and realized I needed to make a serious commitment to finishing my PT cert first.  Bit the bullet and signed up for a 3 day workshop, something I had not wanted to spend the money on before.

June 2016 – I barely picked up my book between signing up for the workshop and actually attending the workshop

June 10-13 – Workshop – see below.

June 14 – June 26th – Study my butt off every day after work and on the weekends.

June 27th – Test day!

The Workshop
If learning through demonstration and practical application is your thing & you find reading a text book challenging, the 3 day workshop is worth the money.  I had originally thought it would be a good idea to do the one day refresher because it was cheaper.  Do the whole three days.  It was helpful to do things hands on, like fitness assessments and exercise demonstrations.  Not to mention a whole lot of fun to spend 3 days with a bunch of people who are just as passionate and excited about fitness as you are.

There are topics covered in the workshop that may not be on the test so don’t get hung up memorizing every little thing. Likewise, there are plenty of things NOT covered in the workshop that are on the test.  The workshop is great but it is not everything.  You still have to read the book {I would recommend reading it cover to cover at the very least before attending}.  ACSM recommends 4-6 weeks of studying after you take the workshop.  I studied for 2 weeks after and although it was just enough, I could have probably used 2 more to be a little bit more prepared.

Study Tools

  • Resources for the Personal Trainer – read this cover to cover.
  • as a resource early on to help me get a grasp on joint actions and muscles.
  • Pocket Prep Ap was a huge help to understanding just how tricky the test questions can get {it’s not that they are trying to trick you, they are trying to test how well you know the material}.  I took a lot of practice tests and then went back over every question I got wrong to make sure I understood why it was wrong.  The only down side was there is a limited number of questions and once I went through them all I felt kind of stuck.
  •  YouTube for when there were things I needed to see to understand versus just read about {how blood pumps through the heart, how blood pressure works, what the difference between a clean, snatch & jerk are, what the Pro agility test or the Wingate test looks like etc.}.


The Exam
Hard but not impossible.  I was initially intimidated by the time limit but I got through all 150 questions in a little under 2 hours which left me with about 45 minutes to go back over flagged & unanswered questions.  Even after re-checking all the questions I was unsure of I still had 15 extra minutes on the clock.  I debated just sitting there & waiting for the clock to run out but that seemed silly.  I probably took about 10 deep breaths and said a few prayers before clicking the “submit” button.  You get your results instantly on the screen – PASS – but you don’t find out which questions you got right or wrong.  {I’m a huge nerd and went home and looked up all the questions I had been unsure of, because I just wanted to know}  

My score was a 638 out of 800 which rolls up to a 79%.  Not amazing, I had wanted to get above 80% but I also am proud of how much I was able to learn in a short amount of time.  I honestly wished I had more time to study, I could have scheduled my exam farther out but I knew my weekends would get busy once July hit and I wouldn’t have entire weekends to dedicate to studying.  My choices were two weeks completely submerged in information versus four weeks of studying in small intervals.  I chose the former.

Final Thoughts
Am I happy I went with ACSM over other programs?  Yes.  Although there are other just as reputable programs I don’t believe I would have learned anything drastically different.  If anything I am psyched to start accumulating my CEC’s {continuing education credits.  yes already}.  

Do I wish I had taken the workshop much much sooner?  Yes.  Two or so years ago dropping a few hundred bucks on the text books was hard enough, but putting down another $350 on a workshop and then $275 on the test after that seemed impossible.  {Not to mention the $90 to get my CPR/AED recertification}.  That being said once I attended the workshop and really learned how to study efficiently and successfully I was amazed at how much easier the material came to me and how much more excited I was about it.  I probably hadn’t picked up my text books in a year or so and I still passed the test so that goes to show me that I had it in me all along I should have saved up and gotten the certification a long time ago.

Now What??
Now what, are you going to go work at a gym?  Can you train me?  Now that I’m certified you’d think I’d be all “Give me all the clients!!!” but I’m not.  I feel like I have a great foundation of knowledge but don’t have the experience with practical application.  My background has been in running and not in strength training.  Now that I actually know what I’m doing in the gym I want to play around with equipment and machines and get comfortable with them before I start working one on one with other people.

So now what?  I have no idea.  Now I’m just happy that something I have worked towards for a long time has been completed.  I have a new thirst for learning about fitness and health and I am excited to see where that takes me in the future.

Fitting Into My College Jeans

Fitting Into My College Jeans

Forget “No Excuses” Focus on Non-Negotiables