A little over a year ago I decided to get my Group Exercise Certification through AFAA. I had taught Boot Camp classes for a few years back in college, but felt it was time to get a certification in case I decided to teach again. After many people reached out to me with questions about getting my certification, I decided to put together a blog post with a quick overview of my experience. Below you will find a few tips for passing the AFAA group exercise certification online.
Tips For Passing The AFAA Primary Group Exercise Certification Online
Beforehand: Do Your Research, And Lots Of It
An important thing to keep in mind is that having a certification through somewhere like AFAA or NASM helps, but it’s not always necessary. Sometimes certain studios have their own training program you need to go through in order to learn their techniques and style. Other times it’s because a trainers personality and energy exceeds their technical knowledge. While it is true that personality is of huge importance in the fitness industry, it’s not always a good thing to hire based solely on this attribute. If you have a great personality and are able to open up in front of a large group of people but do not know the bio-mechanics behind the workout – you risk one of your students getting seriously injured. Conversely, if you have a strong base of technical knowledge yet you do not do well in large group settings, this will hinder your class as well. You need to have a mix of both traits, knowledge and personality, to be able to thrive in this industry.
My suggestion is to figure out what classes you really want to teach. Do you want to start off teaching boot camp style circuit workouts? Or are you more into BODYPUMP or Barre workouts? Once you figure out where you see yourself teaching, you can figure out what certifications to obtain. Personally, I knew that being certified through AFAA was a good jumping point for myself. I’m not currently teaching anymore, but I have my certification in my back pocket should I ever need it.
How Much Will It Cost & What Do I Get?
I initially enrolled myself in the onsite Primary Group Exercise Certification class which cost me $299. This meant I would do a workshop onsite and take my written and practical tests there as well. However, it got cancelled a few days days before the date of my tests and workshop, due to lack of enrollment. Rather than choosing another date and risking it getting cancelled again, I opted for the online course.
At the time, their online course cost $199, so I was refunded the difference. However, it looks like AFAA has changed some things recently and a practical is no longer required to obtain your certification. It also looks like there is only an online testing option available which costs $299. In addition to that there is also an option to attend an on-site workshop. This workshop focuses on the practical application of group fitness leadership techniques and allows you to practice your skills and develop confidence for leading a class. However, it is not required. Their online course includes the following:
- 14 on-line video lectures
- Group Exercise downloadable study guide
- Sample multiple-choice test questions
- An independently monitored and authenticated online exam
- One-year AFAA membership and subscription to American Fitness® magazine
- AFAA Group Ex certification and I.D. Card
In addition to the course I also purchased the book they recommended and also the hard copy of the study guide which cost me around $140. I also had to pay for my CPR/AED certification which cost $50. When it was all said and done my certification cost me around $389 and I had one year to obtain it.
Get Your CPR/AED Certification
I got my CPR/AED certification through the American Red Cross. There is nothing to worry about here, it’s super easy and only took a few hours. They will go over the newest CPR guidelines with you and you will get to practice on a dummy. They will also show you how to operate and use an automated external defibrillator (AED). TIP: Check with your local gym because they often offer these certification classes for little or no charge.
The written test I took was 100 multiple choice questions and I had to score an 80% or better in order to pass. My test covered the following topics:
- General Principles of Exercise Training
- Muscle Chart/Joint Action
- Anatomy & Kinesiology
- Nutrition and Body Composition
- Injury Prevention and Emergency Response
- Health and Fitness Components and Recommendations
- AFAA Fitness Training Recommendations-at-a-Glance
- Professional Responsibilities
- The AFAA 5 Questions
- Group Class Format and Body Alignment
- Cardiorespiratory Training
- Muscular Strength and Endurance Training/Strength Exercise Chart
- Flexibility Training and Final Class Segment
- Teaching Skills, Music, and Choreography
- Special Populations
- Business and Career
I know that looks like a lot, but I promise it’s not as daunting as it seems. Below are some tips that I found useful to pass the exam.
Make A Study Schedule & Stick To It
I scheduled my online test and then made myself a study schedule, printed it out and stuck to it. Every time I completed a section I checked it off and moved on to the next. This helped to keep me accountable and finish all of the sections before my test date.
Fill Out The ENTIRE Study Guide
This is the biggest piece of advice I can give to you when it comes to studying for the written test. Make sure you work you way through the entire study guide and fill all of the questions out. This will go over the major sections of the text book and be a tremendous help when test day comes.
Memorize The Muscle Man
Definitely know all of the primary muscles. I printed off the anterior and posterior views of the muscle man and whited out all of the muscles and numbered them. I made tiny cards that had all of the names of the muscles with the corresponding number on the back of the card. If I couldn’t remember where that certain muscle was on the body, I had the corresponding number on the back to help me out. I quizzed myself until I had all of them memorized. This was extremely helpful and I totally suggest you do this!
Know Your Anatomy and Kinesiology
Along with knowing the muscle man, make sure you know the difference between inferior, superior, anterior and posterior. Also be sure to familiarize yourself with the planes of the body. You’ll also need to understand joints and ligaments and how they’re different. I came up with fun ways to help me memorize things like this. For example, to memorize that ligaments connect bone to bone, I thought of the song by Naughty By Nature and instead of “You down with O.P.P. yeah you know me” I made it “You down with L.B.B. yeah you know me” and the L.B.B. stood for Ligament-Bone-Bone. May sound silly, but it helped me a ton!
Memorize The AFAA 5 Questions
Write down the 5 AFAA questions and memorize them. They will definitely make an appearance on the written test. I put them on to flash cards to help memorize them.
Speaking of flash cards, Quizlet has a ton to help prepare you for the AFAA certification. I printed them out and cut them up and carried them with me throughout the week. I’d pull them out of my purse when I was sitting in waiting rooms or getting a pedicure and quiz myself.
When you purchase the AFAA bundle online you will receive a sample multiple choice test. I took the sample test a few different times and each time I would figure out what sections I was missing questions from and study those specific sections better. However, I didn’t feel like the sample test was a good representation of what the real test was like. But I still think it’s a good idea to take the sample test a few times.
My online test was done through Proctor U. Make sure your the webcam on your computer is working because the test proctor will need to see your ID and view your work space to make sure you desk is cleared of any notes/cheat sheets. You will get logged into the website and then once your scheduled test time comes you will have one hour to complete the test. I finished the test in about 40 minutes and was able to find out that I passed right away! I ended up scoring a 90 percent on the written test which I was happy with considering I was extremely nervous the entire time.
After you pass your written test you will receive your certification card in the mail!
Please feel free to reach out to me in the comments section below if you have any other additional questions! I’d love to help you out as much as I can!