AFAA Group Fitness Certification: My Experience!
Hey readers! Remember my post last month about positive affirmations? yeah? Well, that post was addressing my fear towards AFAA’s Group Fitness Certification. I signed up for it last month and yesterday, Feb 10, 2012, I attended the workshop and completed the course! And hopefully passed, as well 😉 I don’t find out for sure for a few more weeks!
I really have to give a lot of thanks and recognition to my two gym gal-pals who encouraged me to do this and helped me study and prepare along the way. Seriously, they rock and I am so thankful for their help.
If there are any readers out there who are currently registered for this cert or who are thinking about it- I’ll give a detailed layout of how the day went, just so you can get an idea before you attend! I found a girl who wrote about her experience before I attended and it really helped me! So, uh, I’m paying it forward I guess.
Ok. My experience.
Of course, I tossed and turned in my sleep the whole night before. Dang nerves. My mind wouldn’t stop thinking and going over terms and definitions. The AFAA course was from 9am-6pm. I woke up at 630am to get a good head start to the day- I didn’t want to feel rushed. I wanted to be able to take my time, get ready, eat a good breakfast, maybe review for a quick minute or two and then leave. Mission semi-accomplished. Those dang nerves again. They got in the way of me eating breakfast and made the whole car ride there miserable. You gotta understand something ’bout me…when I let my nerves get to me, I get sick to my stomach. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say it’s not pretty. I made a super healthy, energizing green smoothie for breakfast; it consisted of: banana, spinach, ginger( to help soothe my tummy!), blueberries, broccoli and ground flax. I sipped on it during the car ride there, but my tummy was so worked up that I only got about 5 sips in. Boo.
Jordan drove me to the YMCA(where the workshop was being held). He tried his best getting me to ease up, but alas, his attempts were unsuccessful. Good try, though, babe!
Ok. I’ve arrived.
I got there super early- 8:30am. I have a fear of being late, for anything, so yeah, I was one of the first ones there. The workshop instructor was already there, so I went ahead and filled out my waiver and forms and then got to studying before everything started. People started trickling in one by one. Two girls who I see often at my gym showed up. Familiar faces, yes! Instant semi-calming of my nerves. We had never formally met before, but we all recognized eachother. This was great. We all studied together and sat next to eachother throughout the day.
At about 8:50am the workshop instructor welcomed everyone, gave a little background about herself and how the day would run. She was super nice and did a great job at getting us to loosen up some and forgetting about “passing the test” for the time being.
Into the aerobics room we go!
Anatomy and Kinesiology.
Right on schedule, we stated with a review of Anatomy and Kinesiology. Going over muscle groups, joints and their actions, planes of the body, etc. The instructor stayed on track the whole day-making sure to talk about, discuss and answer questions that were relevant to the AFAA test. If we didn’t need to know it for the test(practical or written) we didn’t discuss it. This part of the review was pretty interactive and informal. She asked questions to the group and people just shouted out answers. It was real hands on, too. She would show directional muscle and joint movements and then make us do it as well. This was good.
Body Alignment and Body Stances.
Here, we went over proper alignment in all basic body stances used in a Group Exercise format. Hips, knee, spine, neck–where everything should be and how to make sure it there. We went over body stance modifications and reps/sets as well.
Warm-up, Cardio, Cool-down: Practical Exam Practice
From there we went into what a proper warm-up is. The purpose of and what it should consist of. Again, real hands on and interactive. Continued on with cardio segment and cool down. This is part of your practical exam-showing an 8 minute segment that consists of a warm up, raising the intensity to cardio and then lowering back down for a cool down. It’s broken down into 3 minutes of warm up(with three different leg movements), 4 minutes of cardio(with three different leg movements), and then 1 minute of cool down.
The whole day the instructor reiterated to us to keep things simple…that this wasn’t a job interview, but a test. So to pick movements we knew we could not mess up, movements we were comfortable and confident with.
After the review of the warm up, cardio and cool down, she let us practice, as a group(which for the actual testing part, you’re doing as a group too. also, there’s no cueing or talking during this part, just demonstration). The instructor told us when the music started to begin our warm-up.
- march in place.
- march front and back(4 count) with toe tap.
- standard grapevine.
- I did each for 16 counts, then started from the beginning and continued that pattern until she told us to move into cardio.
- advanced grapevine with arms and jump
- knees up with arms
- hamstring curls with arms
- I did each for 24 counts, then started from the beginning and continued that pattern until she told us to move into cool down.
- march in place
- march front and back with tap.
- I did each for 16 counts and then started from the beginning.
she let us practice this three times. Needless to say, I felt very confident after the third time.
Strength and Flexibility: Practical Exam Practice
From here we went into a review of strength and flexibility. Another part of the practical test is showing 2 strength moves for each muscle/group of muscles and one flexibility move. She went over the same muscle/groups of muscles that were going to be on the practical test. This is done as a group, as well, and again- no cueing, just demonstration. She’ll call out the muscle or group of muscles and you have to show two different movements before she says to show a flex move. I forget how long she gave us to show the two strength moves, but it was plenty of time. I did 8 reps of each move, and then just went back and repeated until she said stop. She went over several examples of different strength moves you could do for each category, as well as flexibility. After her examples, she gave us a practice-run.
- chest press
- chest fly
- flexibility- arms stretch out behind you.
upper back(traps, rhomboids, lats)
- bent over row
- flex- fingers clasped, arms out in front, rounded back
- shoulder press
- front raise
- flex-arm across chest
- bicep curl
- tricep kickback
- flex- overhead tricep stretch
hip adductors and abductors
- side laying hip adductor
- side laying hip abductor
- flex-seated butterfly
- rear leg lift
- flex-laying down, hug knees into chest
quads and/or tibialis anterior
- standing knee extension
- flex-standing quad stretch
hamstrings and/or gastrocnemius/soleus
- heel raises
- flex-standing hamstring stretch
rectus abdominis and/or obliques
- basic crunch. feet on floor.
- boat pose
- flex- laying down, arms and legs extended
- prone back extension
- kneeling alternating single arm and leg lifts
- flex-cat stretch
Individual Presentation: Practical Exam Practice.
Here, she discussed with us some different ides we could use. You’ve got to show a beginner, intermediate and advanced move. She broke us up into groups of two or three and gave us all a timed practice run through with our group. For the Individual Presentation you’ve got 1-2 minutes to show and explain everything that needs to be done. I’m glad she gave us the opportunity to do this in front of a smaller group first- a good way to get some of those butterflies out of the way and get feedback from your group.
yes! my favorite! seriously, I was so hungry from not eating breakfast and then working out all morning. 12:30pm rolled around and we were given an hour for lunch. Most people left the YMCA to go get food, but a good amount brought their lunch and had time to study while eating…that would be me 🙂 and my two gal pals from earlier.
After lunch we went straight back into reviewing.
Written Exam Review
She went over our Study Guide, pointing out and discussing important- need-to-know-these *wink wink* topics. She did not go over the whole thing with us, so don’t rely on this time to learn the info. Be prepared. Have the study guide already filled in. This part is just a review of important information. Pay special attention to the AFAA FIve Questions.
(cue the nerves!)
Seriously, right after the Study Guide review, we went straight into testing. First the practical then the written.
We had four examiners- the instructor that had been with us all day, and then three more who came in just for testing(which one of them was an instructor at my gym, so cool!). We were all given a number to wear and told to stand un numerical order. From there the main instructor told us we would begin with the Warm up, Cardio and Cool down Segment. When the music started we were to begin.
practical part 1- warm up, cardio, cool down
I already listed out what I chose for each segment. The instructor cues the group when to move onto the next segemnt: warm up to cardio, cardio to cool down. Don’t stop moving, just keep going until you’re cued to stop. This part can be a little distracting since everyone is doing their own thing at the same time. So watch out for your neighbor, but make sure to stay in your own zone- don’t get distracted by what someone else is doing.
She cued us to stop and then to grab a mat and come back into numerical order.
practical part 2-strength and flexibility.
The instructor calls out each muscle/group and you do exactly what you did in your practice run. You need to show two strength moves, but she doesn’t cue you when to show the second, so make sure you time it right in order to show both. I just did 8 reps to be safe, and then repeated. She will cue when to move onto the flexibility move, though. After the flex move, she cued us to show the next muscle group…and on it went until the last grouping. The examiners are looking for proper form and alignment. No equipment is used, but you need to pretend that you’re holding a challenging weight–don’t just effortlessly move through the movement, make it slow and controlled as if you’ve actually got weights in your hands.
practical part 3- individual presentation
In numerical order, one person at a time came up to the front of the group and stated their presentation. Make sure to say your name, what you’ll be showing and what muscle/s you’re targeting. You need to show three levels: beginner, moderate and advanced. Cue your crowd before you move into the next level. Smile. Make sure to give alignment cues and make sure that YOU are showing it properly. SHOW SOMETHING SIMPLE! I showed a plank, and so did most of the rest of my group. Be prepared, as an audience, to do a million, planks, push-ups and squats–those seem to be the most common. You’ve got 1-2 minutes to show and explain everything. The examiner will cue you when to stop, even if you don’t finish your full routine.
After everyone gave their presentation we clapped it out and sighed in relief! It was such a good feeling to have that part over with!
The written exam is 100 Q’s. Multiple choice and some matching. You’ve got one hour to complete it. Make sure you have a #2 pencil with you! In order to pass the written you need to score 80%…so you can miss 20 Q’s. I didn’t find the written test to be difficult, but some of the questions were worded kind of odd, so just be careful and read the answer/questions thoroughly.
After the your done with the written, you’re free to leave!
I turned mine in, walked outside and laughed! I felt good walking out of there!
I am SO glad I did this! And I am even more glad that it’s OVER! I was a nervous wreck the whole day and to not have to worry about testing anymore is a huge relief. It’s a long and tiring day, so make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before and eat a decent breakfast and lunch. Bring water, your book and study guide, #2 pencils, a towel for sweat and a jacket…it was so cold in our room! Study beforehand, practice beforehand. Don’t be afraid to ask the instructor any and all questions…she’s there to help you and make sure you feel confident!
A BIG thank you to all of my family and friends that encouraged me, gave me support and prayers and goodvibes. It is all much appreciated!
Woo! I’m done!