Saturday, August 18, 2018

My NASM Personal Trainer Journey - The NASM Personal Fitness Workshop

Welcome back to my (almost) weekly blog posts on my journey to becoming a personal trainer and what comes after. Today I'm going to talk about the NASM Personal Fitness Workshop that I took last Sunday.

The first thing I'll say about the workshop was that it was incredible and I learned so much more than I expected too so if you have a chance, definitely take it! Mine was included as part of my entire NASM package so the cost of the workshop was rolled into the cost of the entire program.

This workshop will help you prepare for the certification exam if you take it before you're certified because it goes over everything we learned during the test preparation and it will also really help you cement your knowledge and give you 0.8 CEU's toward your required continuing education credits if you take it after you pass.

Personally, I was told by NASM to wait and take it after I pass in order to get the credits but it turned out that several of the participants were told to take it before they took the exam in order to help them prepare for the exam better so I guess it works either way. It would have definitely helped me prepare but I was glad to take it after because it allowed me to focus on everything I was learning instead of freaking out over how much I would have to know to pass.

First thing's first though; the workshop I took was in Chestnut Hill, MA so I got to spend a weekend staying with some great friends since they lived about 25 minutes away from there which simplified my life a lot! There are many other locations offered but in the 4-6 months of workshops there were only two in Mass and the next closest one was NYC so if you plan to attend one of these, definitely check ahead of time so you can get the one closest to you!

Let me just tell you guys, the gym at Chestnut Hill where the workshop was held was the most amazing gym I've ever stepped foot it. You could probably fit two of my gyms just into their upstairs workout area and they had an entire Pilates studio, numerous rooms for other activities (like the one we were training in), a whirlpool and sauna, huge locker rooms with towels for everyone and probably a lot more things I didn't get to see. It was incredible!

Anyway, back to the workshop. One of my biggest (dumb) fears about this workshop was that I would be the biggest person there and while I don't think I was (I was one of three and no one of us were huge or anything), there were definitely a lot of younger, super-in-shape women and one guy. I also wasn't the oldest one there which was cool. Everyone was really warm and accepting though and I didn't feel too badly out of place but there were twinges of it at the back of my mind because that's just how my brain works.

The instructor was also fine with me not being able to participate in some of the workouts due to my back so that was really good. And, speaking of the instructor, he was incredible! He bought to life everything I learned during my guided study and really had it make sense to us plus he was funny and just really at the top of his game! 

The workshop went on from about 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (registration was at 7:30) with an hour off for lunch and we definitely made great use of time and probably could have learned a lot more if there was more time but he covered everything important. I'm just going to summarize the actual workshop because I don't remember the whole thing step by step.

We started with introductions and ice breakers and then worked on Overhead Squat Assessment with the instructor explaining it to us using the projector as well as examples from people in the group. We were then broken up into pairs and did the overhead squat assessment on each other. I did learn that I have several compensations that I didn't realize I had including one that doesn't normally show up on the squat assessment paperwork. My feet turn out slightly, my knees definitely turn in and my left hip leans into my body (that's the uncommon one) so I have some serious work to do on those areas!

It really helped me to see how a professional performed this assessment instead of just reading about it and watching videos of it and also helped being able to ask him questions as we went along.

We then went over the NASM workout model and how to create workouts and programming based on what we learned during the assessments and based on how NASM recommends setting them up. The biggest thing I enjoyed out of that was learning self myofascial release or foam rolling. That was the thing I wanted to learn the most hands on because reading about it and watching videos is one thing but doing it is another so I was thrilled that we got to do that.

The instructor walked us though all the different forms of flexibility including foam rolling, static stretching and active and dynamic stretched and I have to tell you guys, during the standing calf stretch he had me turn my foot inward since my feet turned out during the assessment and just that one tiny, half inch twist of my foot changed the entire stretch for me! By the end of the stretching I was feeling like I'd just completed a whole workout so it was really great!

Outside of flexibility we also focused on warming-up, core and speed/agility and quickness in phases 1, 2 and 5 which were all be built around what we saw in the assessments. I was able to practice the phase 1 portions but had to sit out most of phase 2 and 5 (although I tried the first half of phase 2) because my back was just done by then. But I was able to practice "training" my partner in phase 2 which gave me some great ideas on how to keep someone motivated during the workout when they're tired and want to stop but it's not done yet.

I also came to understand that there's far more to warming-up then walking on the treadmill for 10 minutes. NASM recommends foam rolling the spots that need it, then things like planks and then some dynamic movements like using heavy ropes. The instructor said he never warms anyone up just by using the treadmill so it gave me some good ideas for future warms-ups!

The second half of the workshop was more focused resistance training concepts for all three phases and on group exercises and learning from those. Unfortunately I had to sit that workout out but being able to observe and see how he got the workouts going and encouraged the participants helped me a lot. 

We also went over a lot of smaller things: how to keep the workout from getting boring, how to modify movements for people with issues and progress and regress exercises depending on who your client is, how to make money as a trainer, how to program for clients depending on their age, ability, health and goals... things like that. 

By the end of the workshop I felt a lot more confident in my hands-on knowledge and in my ability to actually train someone and write programming and especially on how to do assessments and create a workout based on what those show me.

I'm probably missing a lot of details here but it was a week ago and my brain's been a little fuzzy the last day and half (see my previous blog post for details) but it was a fantastic workshop and I'm SO glad I went! I definitely want to attend more if possible because it really helped cement the book knowledge I had into actual hands-on knowledge. I know they offer a CES (the program I'm starting now) workshop as well but I haven't been able to find any locations near me for that one.

I do highly, highly recommend it though and at the end you end up with another nifty certificate (I think I'm going to need a certificate wall pretty soon lol) and a lot of knowledge.

Next week I'll probably write about choosing liability insurance and starting the CES program so please keep checking back!

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