**Update: I PASSED!***
So, I’ve been a little MIA the past few days. I was busy hittin’ the books.
I’ve been preparing to try and get my AFAA Primary Group Fitness Certification. As you know, I already am a Licensed Zumba Instructor, but most gyms and companies require a Primary Group Fitness Certification from an organization like AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) or ACE (American Council on Exercise). Primary Group Fitness training helps you to be prepared for all of the aspects of teaching a fitness class like Zumba or Step. Some of the things you learn in the process of working towards Group Fitness Certification are:
- all of the major muscle groups in the body and what exercises and stretches are good for those muscles
- how to safely put together a class (warm-up, body of exercise, and cool down) so that everyone gets a good workout but stays safe and healthy
- how to encourage different types of participants
- how to help participants with specific needs, such as pregnancy, diabetes, or arthritis
There was a LOT to learn!
Technically, you need about a month to get ready for AFAA, but I tried to cram it into about 2-3 weeks. I started studying over a month ago, but once school started, it threw off my schedule. I slacked off a little, but over the past week and a half, I really intensified my studying. Here’s hoping that I passed! We’ll know in 6-8 weeks!
One thing that I was VERY happy about was that the trainers went over a LOT of the study guide. That was VERY helpful. They’ll point out a lot of the things that you really need to know for the written test. If there are items that are really important, they’ll make sure you understand them.
Are you thinking of trying for your Primary Group Fitness Certification? Wondering how to prepare? Hopefully these tips will help you.
The practical exam is done as a group, for the most part. Before lunch, you will practice this entire process. There will be no surprises. The actual practical test will be after lunch. If your workshop is a big workshop (mine had more than 120 people!) then they will probably break you into smaller groups. We had 3 groups of 40 people.
First, you’ll do a cardiorespiratory practical. Your whole group will be asked to show a warm-up, body of exercise, and cool down. You’ll have about 2-3 minutes to show warm ups (and you only have to show 3 exercises!). Then they’ll say “Now, move into higher-intensity work.” You’ll change over to higher-intensity moves and continue to do those for about 4 minutes. Then they’ll say, “Please begin to lower your intensity.” You’ll have 1 minute to bring your heart rate down. Don’t be nervous. Choose 3 warm-up exercises that you could do over and over, like marching, step-touch, and grapevines. You can do them over and over. Then choose 4-5 exercises for the higher-intensity. You could do low jacks, then jumping jacks. I also did a higher-intensity grapevine with arm movements. There are tons of options. For the cool down, I went back and did my 3 warm-up moves again in reverse order (grapevine, step-touch, and finally marching) to cool down.
Next, you’ll be asked to demo exercises and stretches for each muscle. This is also done in the group. They will say, “show an exercise for the bicep or tricep.” You can do something like a bicep curl. They they will say, “Please show another exercise for a bicep or tricep.” You might show a tricep kickback. Then you’ll hear, “Please show one stretch for a bicep or tricep.” So then you show your stretch. Then you’ll move to the next muscle group.
Finally, you’ll do your individual presentation. You will select one move—either a strength or a cardio move—and demonstrate it at three levels. I teach Zumba, so I demonstrated a salsa. I started at a regular side salsa. Then I said, “Now, if this is too complicated, you can do this.” And then I showed a broken down version of the move—a simple side-to-side tap. I then showed how to add arms to the regular salsa move to make it more complex. Lots of people showed squats, lunges, push-ups, planks, and crunches. Pick a move you are comfortable with—that you’ve preferable demonstrated in a class setting. Smile and have fun with it.
You should do the entire study guide that you get from AFAA. This is the BEST thing you can do to prepare yourself. There were some people who came to our workshop and had not even started the study guide. Even though they go over a lot of the information at AFAA, I cannot imagine going in without having done any prep work! I would spend a LOT of time learning the muscle groups and the names of the muscles. One thing that you should also pay close attention to is the type of movement done by different joints. For example: When you do a bicep curl and work your bicep, your elbow is doing elbow flexion. There are a lot of test questions pertaining to this. PLUS, you will need this information for the practical test. The written exam is 100 multiple choice questions. It is the very last thing that you will do at the workshop. You have an hour to complete the test. The test isn’t hard if you have studied, I promise. The questions aren’t tricky. If you’ve studied and prepared, you can relax.
What to Bring:
Your workshop will most likely be in a large gym. I would bring something to sit on—other wise you’ll be sitting on a hard gym floor. If you have one of those little tailgate chairs or cushions, that would be a great thing to bring. Or a yoga mat would be great, too. I brought my lunch so I could use that time to study. Some of the AFAA instructors will be there to help you or answer questions you might have. Bring number two pencils and a pen to take notes. Also—a water bottle!
So now I just have to wait 6-8 weeks to find out how I did! Here’s hoping I passed!