No Magic Pill

Knowledge + effort + time = success

Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning Multimedia Symposium

Posted by Ben on Saturday, August 9, 2008

Description (from the product website): The multimedia symposium CDs provide strength and conditioning and personal training professionals an opportunity to listen and follow along as internationally-recognized speakers lecture on the facts, concepts and theories relevant to the CSCS and NSCA-CPT exams. Each multimedia CD includes an interactive video and slide presentation that reflects what a person experiences at a live symposium, and a printable presentation outline accompanied by tables, figures and photos. Following each presentation, fitness professionals can assess their retention of the information through an interactive set of ten self-assessment questions written in the same style as actual CSCS and NSCA-CPT exam questions.

Retail price: $134.95 (NSCA members), $199.95 (non-members)

My thoughts: Sometimes, visual aids are a good thing; sometimes, not so much. Think of the 1960 presidential race, during which came the first televised debate ever. In the case of this symposium, it is painfully easy to see who truly enjoyed and prepared for their presentations and who walked in cold out of (I can only assume) some obligation. Some presenters are dynamic, passionate, knowledgeable, and provide relevant extra information; other presenters look like they are struggling through a high school book report and reading straight from their slides and/or notes, sometimes trying to liven things up with stories of self-aggrandizement. On several occasions, the PDF outline notes that the material there does not match the material in the lecture, and more often, there is notable inconsistency in an outline’s content from one presentation to the next (some match the slides with room for notes while others already contain extra information presented in the lecture). On a few other occasions, there are typos on the outlines or unedited yet blatant mistakes in the presentation. I understand how multimedia editing works, and the package’s insert notes that there are occasionally some editing issues, but for the amount of money this thing costs, would it have killed anyone to do a second or third take of a sentence here and there, even though a couple of the lectures appear to be in front of an audience? By the way, these are enriched CDs and not DVDs, so they will not work in your standard DVD player. The self-assessment questions are either (1) basic enough to answer correctly without watching the presentations, (2) so miniscule in scope that watching the presentation is the only way to answer “correctly,” or in one or two cases, (3) completely wrong based on the information given in the lecture. Finally, I won’t mention names here, but I still can’t get over the fact that the guy presenting the sports nutrition information had an eery resemblance to a bearded Jabba the Hut huffing through Richard Nixon’s jowls. I’m sorry, I know that’s mean, but that doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in that particular information I’m getting.

Three good things: The good presenters who truly add to their lectures, PDF outlines—when they are edited correctly—for later reference (it helps to have a full PDF program that allows you to edit or at least make cover-ups and notes on the pages), brevity and density of information.

Three not-so-good things: The poor presenters who could make a mint as non-invasive alternatives to Sominex, unedited mistakes in both the presentations and outlines, technical issues (does not play nice with Opera, minimum system requirements are probably the lowest standard that keeps your computer from completely crashing rather than running the program smoothly).

My opinion: Unless you have absolutely no chance of learning outside of a visual lecture environment, skip this purchase, especially if you already have at least moderate familiarity with the content of the Essentials textbook, which has more and better visual aids. I didn’t pick up anything I didn’t already get from the textbook, and I sure as hell wouldn’t use this in place of the textbook.

(Note: The NSCA will begin testing with content from the third edition of Essentials in summer 2009, so if you plan to sit for the CSCS before then, study the second edition on which this symposium is based.)

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2 Responses to “Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning Multimedia Symposium”

  1. I really appreciate this feedback as I try to decide what study materials to purchase for the CSCS exam. Thanks!

  2. Dan Sizelove said

    Thanks for the post.. glad I found it before I clicked ‘checkout’. Do you know if they have updated the symposium CDs since you wrote this in 2008? -Thanks, Dan

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