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NCSF Certification Journey - Part 2

by Nancy

Reflections on Personal Trainer Training: Part 1

It's been over a month since I've written. Wow, that went fast. I'm finding it harder and harder to keep up with the NCSF reading for a few reasons:

-Work has been busier than normal
-I've been traveling a bit
-It's Springtime so schedule is naturally busier and there is more going on
-The NCSF material is still pretty technical-- it's like studying for an Anatomy 500 exam or something!

But nevertheless, I've been tackling it whenever possible. I've found that reading somewhere with an ambiance but limited personal distractions (like Starbucks instead of my apartment for instance) is helpful. Depending on how tired I am when I study, I get frustrated with the technicalities of the material and wonder when some of this will ever be useful, and/or if I will remember any of it after the exam. I am a big supporter of learning as much as possible about the human body and I consider myself a fairly receptive person with academic material, but this stuff is REALLY hard to follow at times.

On the up side, I read a chapter where I got to explore the "do's" and "don'ts" of positioning during weight lifting and found that I already knew some of the bad habits and corrections because I am an avid power yogi and I realized how much I've been taught about correct positioning through all my yoga workouts. So that was encouraging! Also, it was cool to learn about those things I DIDN'T already know too: )

I'm also excited to learn more about the nutritional components-- coming up in the next chapters of the book/study guide.

I go to Vegas on May 3rd for the 2-day workshop so I will have plenty to report back after that, I'm sure!

Take care,

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The NCSF Workshop - Part 3

by Nancy

I ventured out to Las Vegas this past weekend for the NCSF workshop and I'll cut to the chase by saying I was really impressed. I learned a TON and was taking notes like a mad woman.... so in my case, what happens in Vegas did NOT stay in Vegas... it is all in my notebook:)

I am really glad I attended this workshop. When I arrived I met Brian from the NCSF (who has about 94 degrees in exercise physiology) and my 8 other fellow students for the weekend. We started off in a room adjacent to the 24-Hour Fitness aerobics room with tables and chairs and a powerpoint presentation. The first 4 hours consisted of Brian lecturing which sounds incredibly boring but it wasn't. He was really knowledgeable and also able to explain things with analogies, stories and examples so we could understand. He didn't dumb it down... I found myself thinking I definitely need to study up on my anatomy and names of muscles more... but being a novice to the technicalities of training, I was able to get a lot out of it. After lunch we all went into the aerobics room and applied some of the stuff we had learned that morning... practicing with the ball and light weights and learning the biomechanics of the various exercises.

The second day was structured the same. Lecture in the morning and practical application in the gym in the afternoon. We never worked with the weight machines (which we learned were mostly designed for body building in the first place because they isolate muscles quite a bit) but worked with mats, balls and free weights. (PS, I was sore on Monday!) Brian stressed a lot of "killing 3 or 4 birds with one stone" by combining exercises where appropriate. Since you typically only have 1 hour with a client you want to maximize what you can teach in 60 minutes.

Throughout the workshop, Brian would point out which pieces of info were especially important for the test and answered all of our questions thoroughly. I think it's going to be very helpful.

The workshop definitely gave me a renewed appreciation for the NCSF, because they are no nonsense and they believe personal trainers have an important responsibility of human body, nutrition, aerobic and anaerobic training knowledge. One of the first things Brian said to us is, "The reality of personal training is that you can kill someone." Although we only had 2 days, I felt like he covered almost everything major in the book and I understand it all so much better now. I've already signed up to take the test... so wish me luck! :) Feel free to send me any feedback or questions if you have them.

I would encourage anybody who is studying with the NCSF to take this workshop. Some of the students in my class were already operating as personal trainers at various gyms around the country and some of them had 1 or 2 certifications from other organizations already... so this workshop isn't just for novices! Everybody seemed to derive a great deal from the weekend.


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NCSF Certification Journey
by: Estela

Hi Nancy,

Congratulations on passing the NCSF exam! I've been reading your story and completely understand you because I had the same problem! I actually started backwards and was training with a personal trainer before I ever even thought about becoming one myself. All the math and formulas are still hard for me to understand. Is there anyway you can e-mail me directly and give me some tips with the math part? Unfortunately, the way this site is set up makes it hard to follow all the comments and since there are no dates I almost missed the post where it said you passed your exam! Thanks for sharing you story and I hope to hear from you soon...

Estela Baltazar

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NCSF Certification Journey - Part 4 - I Passed the Exam!

by Nancy

Great news... I passed the NCSF exam on Saturday!

They give you 3 hours for the exam with "no break time" (so the time is counting down during any break you take) but I was able to complete it and go back through every answer in 2 hours and 40 minutes. I would say they give you plenty of time and you don't need to worry about rushing.

Ariana from Buffalo nailed it in her entry on this page, so be sure to read that. I began reading the textbook and filling out the workbook in February, attended the workshop in May, took practice tests, and studied all the material pretty consistently for a week prior to taking the test. It is written with very tough vocabulary. On every question, I could narrow it down to 2 answers. Unfortunately that gives you right around 50% chance of getting the right answer: )

If you are taking the NCSF exam I would most DEFINITELY do the following:

-Attend the 2-day workshop and write down as much as you can

-Read or at least skim the whole book and study materials that come with the book

-Go online and look at the NCSF sample test section (There are 15 questions) and print them out... the test is VERY similar to these questions... in fact, i saw 2 identical ones on the real test

-Get Katie's prep course from this site. It was instrumental in practicing for this test because its got quizzes that you can do throughout your studying and then a final test. The material in her test parallels the NCSF test material. One of my favorite parts about her test is that if you get a question wrong, it tells you WHY.

Make sure to study the eccentric, concentric stuff and shoulder horizontal abduction vs adduction, leg extension, and lunges for example. Real life questions appear quite a bit where you need to incorporate your knowledge of muscle and bone names, body planes (frontal, transverse, etc) and movement directions (abduction, flexion, etc) to determine which exercise will be appropriate for a certain person or population. You need to understand how it all works together.

There wasn't a lot of math or tough formulas. If you read the book and go to the workshop, there are certain words, theories and subjects that will pop up over and over (like the Karnoven formula, for example) that you should naturally focus on. There is plenty of muscle fiber questioning and also terms like capillary, mitochondria, etc. You also need to know how many calories per fat (9), alcohol (7), etc.

Again, I would definitely try to attend a NCSF workshop and buy the practice tests. It will be worth your while! If anyone has any questions, feel free to post them and I'll answer them the best I can.

As for me, I am training with a personal trainer currently and it is the best practical experience I could be getting. He is a friend of a friend and he knows I am working towards becoming a trainer so he is cognizant of pointing out things to me about working with various clients. I have never worked one-on-one with a personal trainer until now and it is completely eye-opening. It has given me a further appreciation for the role of a personal trainer and helped me learn how to prescribe programs for people.

I've written too much again so I'm signing off, but best of luck to anyone taking the exam!!


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Should I be worried?
by: Erykah

So i am actually taking the NCSF exam this saturday( The 9th). I actually just opened the book and started studying again. I havent read it in a few months. I bought the home study program like a month ago. I guess it sounds like of lazy, but i have been in the fitness field most my life, doing under the table PT, and fitness instruction. I used to be a student athletic trainer for two years, a PT aide and Adaptive training aide...and plan to continue with my major in sports med and pre physical therapy. I know all the muscles, bones, functions, origin and insertion points and remember most of my physiology. I guess I could just say im not that up to date with statistics and need a little more practice with the equations and technical stuff regarding body composition and appropriate ( technical) program design for different.. unless i have a book handy. But now i guess since the test is getting closer im a little worried. Should i be worried?

Excellent description of the program
by: Robert

I passed my NCSF test and have to agree with everything Nancy said here. I did seem to have more math questions on my test than she did bu thinking back it may have only been 10-12 in total. V02Max.. learn it, love it. :)

I have been training for a long time and thought I had a better grasp on some of the concepts but I was surprised to learn way more than I thought.

The 2 day prep class to me is very important.

Good luck.

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