When I decided to switch careers from 9-to-5 digital marketer to become a full-time personal trainer and wellness coach, I spent a lot of time researching certifications.
The word on the street was that the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) offered the most prestigious certification in the industry, the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
The word on the street also said that the CSCS exam was the hardest. Well, guess what? I ROCK at taking exams. Heck, I used to be an exam prep tutor! I know ALL their sneaky test trickery and how to beat it. And when someone tells me that something is hard to do, that usually makes me want to accomplish it. I knew that I HAD to get my CSCS at some point.
However, after a bit more research, I decided that it would be best to get my Certified Personal Trainer certification through the NSCA first. My reasoning was that, if I wanted to be a personal trainer before becoming a strength and conditioning specialist, then maybe I should actually get a certification in personal training (duh). And if the NSCA was like most organizations, their testing format would be very similar from one certification to the other. Basically, by preparing for the NSCA CPT exam, I would also be prepping for the NSCA CSCS exam.
My reasoning worked. I passed the CPT on the first try and my official professional signature became Martha Jean Schindler, NCSA-CPT. I used the same studying tactics that worked for the CPT exam to prepare for the CSCS exam, and passed it on my first try earlier this year. So now my professional signature is Martha Jean Schindler, CSCS, NCSA-CPT. Fancy, right? Hard work (done intelligently) pays off.
I was surprised at how proud I felt to display my credentials on my name badge at the 2017 NSCA CPT conference this year. I worked hard and made a lot of sacrifices to earn them. I didn't study kinesiology or sports science in college. I didn't have the years of experience that many of my peers had. I had to work extra hard to learn what I needed to know to become a trainer and switch into the health and wellness field. It feels good to have actual, visible proof of my hard work and progress. It feels good to take a step back and realize how far I have come. It feels good to look ahead and see how many opportunities there are to grow and learn and develop on this path.
It also felt good to meet one of my heroes, Dr. Andy Galpin. I follow his research and basically keep an eye on everyone who interviews him or works with him. He knows a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff (like Sports Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, Designing Exercise Programs, Applied Strength and Conditioning, Athlete Assessment and Measurement, etc.), and he's also really good at teaching and communicating about it. He seeks out the keys to excellent performance and then shares them with the world. This guy actually concretely makes the world a better place. That's pretty darn cool
But wanna know something even cooler? Everyone I met at this conference makes the world a better place. They fight the good fight to help people become healthier, happier, stronger, faster, better. And while I've definitely met my fair share of assholes in this industry, everyone I met at the NSCA CPT conference was kind, deeply inquisitive, and supportive of others.
It was both an honor and a pleasure to be in the same room with people like that.