I did it!!
On Friday, I took the Certified Personal Trainer examination through NASM (National Association of Sports Medicine). I had been getting endless "give us your money and we'll make you a trainer!!" emails for a couple of years, since the idea first popped into my head, and I reached out to NASM (the best way to find a good organization for certification? Ask your own awesome trainer.) for more information. In April, I finally whipped out my credit card and made the phone call...and now, here I am, finished.
I didn't start actually studying the material until June, because May was a month of end-of-school busyness, Spring concerts, and mad job-hunting. June, however, was slow, as was July, and once I had my new employment secured, I had a lot of time on my hands to read "The Brick" and watch the online presentations.
Some parts were more interesting than others, as is always the case when learning something new. I understood the need to understand how the nervous, skeletal and muscular systems all work together to make the body move, and it was fascinating, but even more exciting to me was reading about just how strength training works. If I never hear the words "golgi tendon organ" and "muscle spindle" again, I won't be sad.
(I'll hear them again. If I want to stay certified, there are continuing education credits and a re-certification process every two years.)
The last couple of weeks have been study-and-cram time. I finished the book, but had to go back and make all of the information from it make sense--no small task. I had to memorize muscles and what their isolated function (main reason for existing) is. For example, the muscles of the calf exist for plantarflexion (pointing the toes), which is a crucial part of basic human locomotion. They also aid in knee flexion (bending).
On Friday morning, I woke up after a terrible night of very little sleep, determined to make it through my morning workout and the exam.
The test itself wasn't too horrible. The first 15-20 questions actually moved along quite easily. "I know this, yup. Got this. Oh, yeah, know this one." When I finally hit a question that threw me a little, it seemed like they all started too. I just read questions twice and looked for key words to help me answer them correctly. I marked a few to come back to at the end. There were 120 questions on the exam, but only 100 of them count--and test-takers have no idea which ones are the research questions.
At the end, the exam software asks your twice if you're sure you want to end the test. I took a deep breath, crossed my fingers, and told it yes, twice. Then I got up on slightly-shaky knees and left the room to get my results.
I took the exam at a center that is located in the terminal building of Sacramento Executive Airport, so a pilot was nonchalantly hanging out with the exam proctor at her desk, chatting, when I approached. When the proctor told me I passed, I did a V-for-Victor motion with my arms and softly said, "Yes!!!" The pilot grinned at me and congratulated me while I just giggled and pretended to wipe sweat from my brow.
Of course, there were immediate celebrations to be had--but my phone was locked in the trunk of my car! I practically danced out into the parking lot, and once I had the phone again, I texted my parents, a few friends, and I put the joy out there on Facebook and Instagram, as well.
I'm not "official" just yet--I have to wait on NASM to do whatever approval they need to do, but I can't imagine any reason I'd be denied a certification at this point. In 4-6 weeks, I'll get a fancy-schmancy certificate mailed, and of course I'll be framing it and displaying it. I think it will look great on my wall of running accomplishments.
I want to keep the certification going, even if I don't actually use it to train other people. I'm sure, at some point, I'll help a friend or family member, and I'll certainly be gaining plenty of knowledge with which to help myself.
In the end, I'm just proud of myself for continuing to learn new things, and to better myself. I've come a long way from the thirty-year-old woman who walked up to a trainer at the gym and said, "I need some help."