I've completed the National Academy of Sports Medicine's Behavior Change Specialization course and am about to share the ins-and-outs of the course and my genuine thoughts and feelings. Two years earlier, I completed NASM's CPT course. I needed 2 continuing education credits in order to recertify. The BCS course was 1.9 CEUs and the last 0.1 CEUs comes from renewing my CPR/AED certification.
THE BASICS. Once you purchase the course, you have 1 year to finish it. It is completely online; the textbook is an e-book (you cannot buy a physical copy, I asked) and the exam is also online. There is no testing center or proctor needed. All you need is a solid internet connection and 90-minutes of your time.
There are 9 chapters in this course. Each module includes an introduction video, a chapter in the textbook, video demonstrations, an activity to review what you've learned, and a short 10-question quiz to test your knowledge. Each chapter on average is around 35 pages.
Personally, I wanted to complete the course as quickly as I could while getting absolute most out of it as possible. I'm very much the kind of person who is motivated if I have a timeline, so I completely planned it out. I completed 2 modules each week and took 2 weeks to review totaling 1.5 months (about 80 hours of work).
WHAT I DID.
Read each chapter through.
Reread each chapter and took notes.
Watched the videos.
Completed the activities.
Took the quiz.
Reread the entire textbook.
Reviewed chapter notes.
Completed chapter quizzes again.
Took the exam.
I read the textbook 3 times so that I genuinely got the most out of the course. I realize how important behavior change is and I paid $600 for the course so I best learn all the things to better influence my clients. I printed the textbook so that I will always have it as a resource, but I also know that my odds of actually going back and reading it are very slim after I took and passed my exam. So although one could pass the exam after reading the textbook only once, I'd advise to read it twice through.
CONTENT. I was hesitant to get this course because I was scared it would be all like "take these personality assessments and figure out what works best for them" kind of thing. Although part of it was like that, I do feel like there was a lot more to it. I learned a lot about goal-setting, imagery, behavioral therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and social influences. Changing behaviors is extremely complex and is not a cookie-cutter, finite task; it's an intricate, never-ending, lifestyle change. The course itself wasn't very science-intensive. Unlike the CPT course, there weren't many physiological principles to memorize; the content was more practical. I enjoyed reading, learning, and absorbing the content.
I will say that since becoming certified, I haven't used too much of what I've learned yet. I think I'm so early in my career that I'm still figuring things out, gather my experiences and data. Overall, I do think that the principles I've learned will help me help others.
THE EXAM. It was easy. It was not stressful in the least. As mentioned above, it's completely online without a proctor so you can take it whenever you want, wherever you want. It's 100 multiple choice questions and you have 90 minute to complete it. You're able to go back and review questions before you final submit. It took me half the time to finish, and although it doesn't give you a score (you need a 70% or higher to pass), it will tell you right away whether you passed it or not. Oh, and you can take it as many times as you need to in order to pass. This in itself made me feel super laid back.
TIPS FOR PASSING THE COURSE.
Take all the quizzes a few times. The exam has very similar questions, if not the same.
Read the dang textbook at least once. It's 1000x more informational than the videos.
Understand the stages of change and interventions appropriate for each.
Create a schedule so that you stick to the plan. If you're not self-motivated, knowing you have a year to complete it may cause procrastination. Chapters feed off of one another so it's important to not take large breaks in between content.
Overall, I am satisfied with the course. I think it's full of valuable material, although, like everything else, it won't be helpful until you implement what you've learned into your practices. Some of it is common sense, some of it seems far-fetched, but realizing that different things work for different people is vital and therefore, we should investigate all interventions and ways to educate others in reaching their goals.
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