NASM CPT: My Experience + Tips

I am officially a NASM Certified Personal Trainer!

Image 10While I don’t know what my official score was (yet), I do know that I passed, and right now that’s all that matters! Coming right out of college, I was pretty used to the whole study/exam process, but it had been ages since I’d had to teach myself an entire course (hello, grade 9 math!).

My biology background helped me out with a lot of Chapter 2 (Science), and my experience as an athlete made it much easier to understand the Human Movement Science portions. (For example, I know from personal experience that my knee has caved inwards during a single leg squat because of my underdeveloped gluteal muscles).

Reading blogger’s study guides online was also extremely helpful, so along with this NASM review, I will also link to all of the worthwhile tools I used throughout the studying process.

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Why NASM? (National Academy of Sports Medicine)

  • It is widely accepted and recognized. I’d seen the name pop up everywhere- on blogs, workout forums, and gym/fitness studio websites. Out of all of the personal training certifications out there, I’d say that NASM was the one which appeared the most, followed by ACE.

How much did it cost?

  • I chose the second cheapest option (exam + online self-study materials), which costs $699. (Note: I received a discount for agreeing to write this review post, which ended up bringing my cost down a bit). The cheapest option is $599, and only includes the exam- no practice materials, no textbook, nothing.

How long did I study for?

  • About 2 months. I purchased the NASM package at the beginning of June, and took the exam August 11th. I studied nearly every day during June, backed off a bit for the first two weeks of July, and then ramped it up towards the end of July/beginning of August.
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Studying on my “couch” (aka a pillow on the floor) before I had a bed or anything to sit on in the apartment!

 

How did I study?

  • Textbook (provided by NASM). I read through the entire textbook and made notes, which took me the better part of a month. After attempting some questions, and realizing I was nowhere near prepared, I then went through the textbook again, this time highlighting important areas and bookmarking certain tables with post-it notes.
  • Online flashcards (provided by NASM). There are roughly 400 flashcards in total, and they are very comprehensive. If you don’t know a topic very well, reviewing these will most definitely point out those weaknesses.
  • Online practice tests. I ended up finding lots of practice questions online, but beware- some of the information may be outdated and/or incorrect. Nevertheless, it’s a good way to test yourself, but when in doubt, always refer to the official NASM resources for the correct answers. Below are a few links to some of the online quizzes/tests/flashcards I used:
  • iPhone apps. I downloaded two free apps, and one paid app, which cost me $5.99, and provided me with about 450 questions. The paid app was great for when I was killing time on the train/subway, or trying to fall asleep. It allowed me to practice without having to lug around the ginormous textbook everywhere.
  • This Bodybuilding.com forum. Skip to the last page for the most recent material and tips. It is really helpful- I highly recommend checking it out! Some of the same exact questions popped up on my exam.
  • Blogger’s study guides. To get a better sense of NASM, and what was important, I read a lot of online study guides- the best being one by the Healthy Gamer (link below).
  • Extra practice exam ($20) from NASM. I purchased this the night before, and am really glad that I did. I ended up completing the exam at 11:30 pm in about 40 minutes (rushing through it), and passed- barely. The lesson I learned from this is that I needed to really concentrate during the exam, read the questions thoroughly, and avoid “stupid” errors. I also learned some things I somehow skipped over while reviewing the textbook. Taking this practice exam was also great practice for understanding how NASM phrases their questions, which can be tricky sometimes.

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NASM Special Offer

Good news! The NASM people have agreed to set up Squash on Squash readers with a discount for your CPT package! For more info and to take advantage of this, email Michael Miller (michael.miller@NASM.org), and let him know that you were referred from Nicole at Squash on Squash. Michael was incredibly helpful, and I really enjoyed partnering with him/NASM!

If you have any questions regarding my NASM experience, feel free to reach out and shoot me an email at squashonsquashblog@gmail.com.

Questions:

Are you considering getting your CPT? If so, have you heard of NASM?

If you are certified by NASM, what was your experience like? Anything to add?

 

Angie’s Boomchickapop Review

Disclaimer: Angie’s Boomchickapop samples were sent to me free of charge and I was not compensated for my review. All opinions are my own.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved popcorn. And I’m no popcorn snob either. I love it the movies, the homemade varieties, and of course- kettle corn! When popcorn was deemed a “health food” a couple of years ago, it absolutely blew up the market with pre-popped varieties lining several shelves in grocery stores.

I was so excited.

Popcorn that tastes delicious and doesn’t require any loud popping? How ideal for a college student!

One of the first varieties I came across at our University store was Angie’s Boomchickapop.

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(source)

 

For the past couple of years, Boomchickapop has become a staple in my life, and is super popular amongst the students on Princeton’s campus.

When do I love to eat Boomchickapop?

  • When my friends and I are headed back to our rooms after a fun Saturday night and are looking for something to munch on while we debrief, Boomchickapop’s lightly sweet flavour is always the first item on our list.
  • When my team heads off on long bus trips, popcorn is always the first snack to be opened, and polished off before arrive at our destination. (That and chocolate covered pretzel thins!).
  • When I’ve got the late-night midterm munchies, and want something light to snack on, Boomchickapop is my go-to buddy (besides coffee!).

It’s pretty safe to say I’ve had a pretty solid relationship with Boomchickapop over my college years. So when I received four big bags of “samples” to try out, I was jumping for joy. (Not actually jumping, but there was definitely an extra pep in my step as I toted my cardboard box back to my room).

Angie’s Boomchickapop sent me four bags to try:

  • White cheddar popcorn
  • White cheddar baked ancient grain puffs
  • Sweet and salty baked ancient grain puffs
  • Sweet barbecue baked ancient grain puffs

IMG_6173I was so tempted to tear open every bag to try each flavour, but I exercised some self-control (whaaat?!) and started with just one, the white cheddar popcorn.

IMG_6178It was delicious, and is currently rivalling Lightly Sweet for my all-time favourite Boomchickapop popcorn.

What are these “Puffs”?

Along with the popcorn, Angie’s Boomchickapop also sent me 3 bags of their newest line: “Boomchickapuffs”.

 

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When I was younger, both the word “cheezies” also meant “cheese puffs”. I’ve never loved traditional cheezies, but have always had a bit of a soft spot in my heart for cheese puffs. They’re light, airy, and of course, cheesy- how could you not like them?!

Oh right, they’re basically made with chemicals.

I had no idea what the ancient grain puffs would be like, so I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered them to be like my beloved childhood cheese puffs, but with real ingredients! 

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My favourite flavour was the white cheddar flavour, followed by the sweet and salty as a close second. I’ve never been a huge barbecue fan, but even so, I actually quite liked it. However, since I’m partial to cheese, I’ve got to give it my blue ribbon. That being said, I would most definitely not turn down any Boomchickapuffs that happened to land in my hand/pocket/pantry :).

Well shoot. Now I’m hungry and am craving some Boomchickapop. Is it snack time yet?!

Questions:

Have you ever tried Angie’s Boomchickapop or Boomchickapuffs?

Which flavour would you be most interested in trying?

 

 

 

MyProtein Impact Whey Protein Powder {Review}

I. Love. Protein Powder.

At some point when I have tried enough brands and flavours, I am going to write a comprehensive post, outlining my favourites and their best “uses”. (Hint: I never make plain, boring protein shakes!).

That being said, I am always on the lookout for new protein powders. In general, I have 3 main criteria I follow when assessing a protein powder:

  • Ingredients: Basically, if the ingredient list is ridiculously long, and I can’t pronounce the names, I don’t go for it. I know there’s probably going to be some unnatural stuff in there- I just try to make sure there’s not a lot.
  • Protein and sugar content: I like to try and find protein powders that have at least 18-20g of protein per serving. (Most vegan protein powders will only have ~15g protein per serving, whereas whey protein powders can have upwards of 20g per serving). Also, when it comes to sugar content, I like powders that have ~8 g or less per serving. Ideally less than 5 is best, but sometimes you gotta take what you can get!
  • Taste: I really cannot emphasize just how important taste is when it comes to protein powder. If it’s chalky, acidic, or just plain weird tasting, it’ll sit in my cupboard for ages. I’d might as well enjoy what I’m eating, right?

So when Myprotein contacted me a little while ago, asking if I would try and review one of their products, of course I jumped at the chance. Another protein powder to try? Sign me up!

I picked up the bag on my way down to practice, and didn’t hesitate to open the cardboard box up right away in the locker room. There were quite a few laughs when I opened the box up to find not a sample, but rather a monster-sized 5.5 pound bag of chocolate flavoured impact whey protein powder!

myprotein1I’ve since been gradually working my way through the ginormous bag, testing it to see what its particular “use” will be. The verdict?

A good old chocolate smoothie!

Although I generally put protein powder in everything (homemade bars, yogurt, oatmeal, even hot chocolate sometimes), I found that this worked best mixed in a smoothie. (If you’re looking for “healthier” ways to incorporate chocolate and/or protein powder into your diet, check out my post Healthy Chocolate for ideas!).

Myprotein Impact Whey Protein: The Verdict

  • Ingredients: On the whole, decent! Sure there’s some sucralose and artificial flavouring in there, but all in all, the ingredient list is short. 
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I transferred some of the protein powder into a smaller bag for easier access.
  • Protein content: When comparing calories per serving to protein content, MyProtein gets a very good score. It’s only 90 calories per scoop, and offers 18 g of protein! Plus, only 1 g of sugar per serving- you really can’t beat that one.

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  • Taste: I’m very picky when it comes to protein powders. While Myprotein wasn’t the most versatile powder I’ve encountered (keep in mind I put protein powder in everything so I’m a harsh critic!), I was really pleased that it blended well in smoothies. Chocolate smoothies is one of my favourite ways to enjoy chocolate protein powder, so I’m totally cool having basically an unlimited supply of smoothie mix :) .

myprotein2Ironically, I think I managed to snag a ride from a friend after practice so I didn’t have to walk back carrying a 5.5 lb bag of protein powder. Ehhhhh I’d already done my workout for the day! ;)

Questions:

Do you use protein powder, and if so what do you look for in a protein powder? 

Have you ever heard of Myprotein? 

 

38th and WICK Skirt {Review}

Hey guys!

It feels like ages since I’ve posted! With all of the family craziness surrounding Christmas, I didn’t have much time to put together a post of any sort, but today I’ve got something pretty cool to share with you!

38th & WICK 

wickskirt1One of my friends from school, Liz, is the co-founder of 38th & WICK, a clothing startup which has created the “No Stress Black Dress”. After having heard all of the hype flow throughout campus, I was very excited to get my hands on 38th & WICK’s “TJ” skirt to test out myself.

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Dinner party outfit

I was able to wear the skirt for a couple different dinner parties this holiday season, and received a lot of compliments, especially when I showed them all of its sweet features!

38th & WICK’s website boasts the following:

  • High performance, stretchy fabric

“High performance, four-way stretch outer fabric is moisture wicking and heavier than our other fabrics for a more luxurious feel”

IMG_6008I loved the comfortable feel of the skirt- I almost felt like I could go play squash in it! (Which technically, I could, since the fabric is moisture-wicking!). The skirt was super stretchy, which was absolutely crucial for the infamous post-dinner full belly syndrome.

  • Built in spandex shorts

“Lightweight, breathable built-in shorts provide maximum coverage and smooth out VPL”

I personally loved the built in shorts. It made me feel like I was fully covered, and they were super comfortable to boot!

  • Pocket for Phone/ID/Keys

“Phone, keys, ID, or cards easily slip into the subtle yet roomy waistband pocket”

IMG_5985If you’re not a fan of carrying on to your purse when you go out at night (seriously, who wants to dance with a bag?!), you will love this feature of “The TJ” skirt. You could comfortably hide a lipstick, keys, earrings, or other personal items in this subtle pocket for safekeeping.

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Oh hello there!

Overall, the TJ skirt was a huge hit amongst my friends and family. I especially loved how the skirt could be dressed up or down, for either a casual or professional look. (Please excuse my “modelling”… if you can even call it that)

One night I paired the skirt with a simple t-shirt sweater, black blazer, and chunk necklace for a professional-esque look. This outfit also looks great with black tights!

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IMG_5967I also really liked how the skirt was long enough. Since I’m fairly all (about 5 ft 9), most skirts and dresses appear pretty short on me. I’ve learned to deal with it, and now accept it, but it’s nice having a skirt which is long enough such that I don’t have to constantly pull it down to hide my derriere.

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Bum = very covered!

The size I am wearing in the pictures is a medium, and if I were to own one for myself, I would probably choose a large. While the medium size fit my waist properly and was a good length, it didn’t quite give enough room for my squash-butt. (For those of you that didn’t quite catch that reference- squash players tend to develop “squash butts” from all the lunging that is involved). Therefore, in order to accommodate for this, I would probably go up a size.

38th & WICK Special Offer!

Now, I have an exciting announcement! Until the end of the month, 38th and WICK is offering 20% off on their orders! Check out their website (38thandwick.com) to learn more about their other products, all of which are other moisture-wicking, comfortable, and high-quality party-wear!

If you guys have any questions for me about the skirt, feel free to comment below, send me an email (squashonsquashblog@gmail.com). If you have any questions for 38th & WICK, feel free to send them an email at ask@38thandwick.com), or by using this form.

Questions:

Have you ever heard of 38th & WICK? 

What do you look for in going-out attire?

What features of “The TJ” skirt would you appreciate?

 

 

My First SoulCycle Experience {Review}

On Sunday my team and I went to an 11 am SoulCycle class as part of our off-campus fall break training trip. About half of the girls had been to SoulCycle before, and funnily enough, for all of the spinning and cycling I’ve done in my life, I was one of the newbies!

IMG_5331I went into my first SoulCycle class intrigued and excited, but also skeptical for a number of reasons:

  • I’m not usually a fan of high-profile, commercialized workouts
  • I am very pretty opposed to pushups and arm weights on the bike
  • Spinning for 45 minutes with very low resistance and extremely high cadence doesn’t seem all that productive to me
  • The whole “SoulCycle” stereotype kind of troubles me
  • I don’t need or like the fact that I’m working out or working hard to be disguised by bells and whistles

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What Went Down: My Experience

10:30 am-10:45 am- arrived at the studio to fill out waivers, get shoes, put my stuff in a locker. Waited for the employees to open the doors to the studio

10:45 am-11:00 am- set up my bike in the studio and started to warm up on my own. Made sure to get weights for my bike (I used 3 pound weights) and put them underneath my seat.

11:00 am- class starts with a high energy song: Shake it Off by Taylor Swift. So far, SoulCycle is off to a great start!

11:15 am- the energy in the class is super high, and I’m loving it! We’ve done a few pushups on the bike, but nothing I can’t handle. The class more or less resembles spinning.

11:15 am-11:30 am- Wow, we are spinning way more with these pushup things than without them. I cut out at least 3/4 of the pushups, turn up the resistance, and focus on my legs. Music is still great, as is the energy of the class. These might be the two reasons I was convinced to keep going.

11:30 am (?)- Arm weights time! It only lasted about 5 minutes (I think), but it burned! This portion reminded me an awful lot of Barre, the way my muscles burned and shook intensely.

11:40 am- Cool down starts. I didn’t even know that it was the end of the class, because we didn’t finish with a final sprint or anything. I kind of felt like I was cruising to the finish line, rather than trying to beat the rider beside me!

11:50 am- All stretched and cooled down, I thanked the instructor as I left the studio super super sweaty. That’s got to be a sign of a good workout, right?

What I Liked

  • Awesome Music

I’ve got to say, the combination of the continuous music and it’s sheer volume really makes for an energetic class. There was a good combination of some throwback songs, pop, as well as lyric-less techno that kept things interesting, as well as appealed to most tastes. I’d sure love to figure out how to mash up my music to give it that kind of flow!

  • Energetic Instructor (Becca)

The reason we went to this particular class was today was because Alex has a serious non-romantic girl crush on Becca. Alex went to Becca’s class 2 or 3 times a week this past summer and became obsessed with her infectious enthusiasm and music- something which can be hard to do at 6am!

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Sure enough, today, Becca didn’t disappoint. She literally danced into the studio, and I admit, was super overwhelming, but hey, she had personality. Becca’s cheesy but oh-so-motivating lines such as, “sometimes it’s not about how much you add, but how much you can release”, really stuck with me during those hard minute-plus sprints. She also made it very clear that it was “your ride”, meaning if you didn’t want to do all of the pushup things, that you could sit down and “sprint your face off”. Not going to lie, as unappealing as that option may sound, I definitely did it a few times. Arm thingies = not for me.

  • Good Equipment

There’s nothing worse than having a bike that sticks, squeaks, or is just plain bad. I am happy to say that the SoulCycle bikes were none of these things. They pedal smoothly, allowing you to focus on the ride, and not whatever malfunction your equipment may have.

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My bike

The studio also had a ton of the little arm weights, so you didn’t have to worry about getting stuck with too heavy or too light of weights.

  • Impeccable Studio

When you walk into the Soul Cycle studio, you can count on it being clean and professional looking. The reception area is all white and bright, which, along with the peppy employees, gives off a fun, energetic vibe.

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However, once you step into the bike room, you are immediately transported into a workout vortex with booming music, intense lighting, and about 50 bikes. It gives off a serious “no messing around” attitude! (But in the best possible way).

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Thanks to the great setting, the class had an infectious energy, which pumped me up a lot for the first 10 minutes! After that I started to settle into the hard work, and the novelty of the vibes wore off a little, but nevertheless persisted throughout the class.

What I Didn’t Love

  • So. Many. Bike. Pushups

Going into my Soul Cycle experience, I knew that pushups on the bike were going to be part of the class. However, I was not aware that they would be such a prominent feature! There was more spinning with the arm movements than without, which really shocked me. As someone who prefers to concentrate solely on biking movements while cycling, I found this hard to get used to.

  • Lack of Climbs, Intervals and Breaks

I prefer to integrate variety into spin classes with intervals, climbs, and breaks. SoulCycle seems to aim to achieve this goal by adding arm movements, “tap backs”, “up downs”, and light weights. While I’m sure that many people like this format, it’s not what I’m used to, and I therefore had difficulty adjusting accordingly.

  • No Exertion Level or Time Countdown

Since the class didn’t revolve around timed intervals, I often found myself guessing my level of perceived exertion. Not being told how hard to push, or how long to push for left me a little uneasy, since I was weary of not leaving enough gas in the tank.

  • Spinning Out of Control

On the drive back to school, Alex and I were talking about the class, and I mentioned how the class would have been impossible to complete without clip-in shoes. First off, there are no straps on the pedals, which forces participants to either rent shoes, or bring their own. As someone who always spins with cleats, this didn’t really surprise or phase me. However, once we were about 15 minutes into the class, I realized why the clip in shoes were so essential to SoulCycle. The majority of the class was spent running at a very high cadence (I’d say probably >120 RPM), which would have been very unsafe without cycle shoes. While I do enjoy “spin-tervals” (spinning at a very high cadence) once in a while, I would have liked there to have been at least a couple songs of higher resistance and lower cadence.

Bottom Line

Given all of these pros and cons, would I go back? I have to say, I do prefer actual “spinning” to SoulCycle, mostly because I am used to it. I’m a creature of habit, and really like working super hard with well deserved breaks, and loading on resistance for climbs. I also tend to visualize myself riding an actual bike, and for that reason, don’t find the pushups and arm weights particularly useful, since they don’t translate to better biking skills.

Despite all of this, I can’t deny that the energy of the class was unparalleled, and unlike any other fitness class I’ve ever been to. It really made me want to be a part of the community (okay, minus the skull-printed gear). I was reminded just how powerful group exercise is, especially when every participant is stoked out of their mind to be there.

It’s really amazing how SoulCycle has been able to market a painful, stationary activity, where you are literally 1 foot away from another sweaty individual as a life-changing, best-selling activity. Way to go, SoulCycle!

Questions:

Have you ever been to SoulCycle? Did you like it? 

Do you go to SoulCycle or another type of indoor cycling class regularly?