Pamela Hernandez, Health Coach and Motivational Speaker in Springfield Missouri. She also a personal trainer, certified by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The ACSM is usually seen as one of the most coveted fitness certifications in the world, if not THE most coveted. Because of that I wanted to interview Pamela in the hopes that she could help people studying for the ACSM Personal Trainer cert and looking for answers. Here's a list of all the other interviews I've done. For more on the ACSM CPT cert, see my interview with Jennifer Bauer.
JC. Why did you pick ACSM over other organizations?
PH. I am very focused on general health and wellness for the average person. ACSM has a very balanced approach. They are also a highly respected and well established NCCA accredited certification.
JC. How much did the ACSM personal trainer cert cost?
PH. I can’t recall the exact cost but I am sure you can find it on their web site.
JC. When did you take the ACSM trainer test?
PH. July 2009.
JC. The ACSM has several certifications. Did you have to take other ACSM certs before you were allowed to take the ACSM personal trainer cert?
PH. No, I only sat for the CPT and I passed it the first time.
JC. How did you find out where the ACSM test was given in your area?
PH. I believe I used the search function for their testing partners located on their website.
JC. How long did you study before you took the test?
PH. I studied 4-5 months. I used their tools and set up my own training schedule.
JC. What study materials you used to help you prepare for the test?
PH. I used the following resources:
- ACSM's Resources for The Personal Trainer
- ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription
- ACSM's Certification Review
- Anatomy coloring book
Update: ACSM informs me they now recommends ACSM's Personal Trainer 5e Book Kit Package
JC. Was the test true false multiple choice ect?
PH. Yes it was multiple choice questions.
JC. What identification did you have to show on the day of the test?
PH. My driver’s license.
JC. Did you have to be CPR certified before the test?
PH. No other requirements other than CPR certification. They probably also require an AED certification now.
JC. Can you take people through the day you took the test? What was it like? Was the test proctored? Did you take it on the computer?
PH. What I did over 5 years ago may be different as well as each testing site may be different. The test was computer based. I was the only one there with the proctor. It was very simple and familiar to anyone who has taken any kind of standardized test (ACT, college placement, etc). If you take the practice tests provided by ACSM you will find the question format very familiar when you sit down to take the real test.
JC. What was a passing score? I do not recall and it may have changed. Again you may find this type of general information on the ACSM site.
JC. Did you find out immediately after the test if you passed?
PH. Yes, the results are immediate.
JC. Was there a practical part to the test?
PH. No, there was no practical portion.
JC. What was the hardest part of the ACSM test for you?
PH. The test wasn’t hard if you take the time to study the materials and have a basic understanding of the human body and exercise. It’s the volume of information that you need to know. The one test covers a huge knowledge base so you want to allow yourself plenty of time to prepare. You don’t want to get too hung up in the fine details because the test is more big picture and application.
JC. How often do you have to get recertified? How many CEUs do you need?
PH. Every three years you recertify and you must have 45 CEUS.
JC. Any study tips for people who want to attempt the ACSM cert?
PH. You MUST study. Use the tools they give you but don’t just memorize. Think about how you might use the information. Follow the provided KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities) and you will be fine. I made flash cards for the KSAs and drilled them over and over.
JC. Did the ACSM trainer test involve any math?
PH. Yes there were math questions. You need to understand how to do basic arithmetic and algebra. You must memorize formulas.
JC. Where did you take the test at?
PH. At a Community college testing center.
JC. Did you take any ACSM prep courses before the test?
PH. I used the ACSM books mentioned above to set up my study schedule.
JC. Did any of the ACSM books cover exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis?
PH. I don’t recall that specific topic being covered however I know the materials have been updated since 2009.
JC. Did the ACSM test cover a lot about nutrition?
PH. It covered the basics – macronutrients, MyPlate, etc. I have my ACE Health Coach certification as well which covers more about nutrition.
JC. What do you like most about the ACSM and what do you like least?
PH. ACSM is a great organization that is based on SCIENCE, not fads. They promote exercise as medicine, wellness at work and other things that help real people get fit in the real world.
JC. Where can people learn more about you?