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AFAA Group Fitness Certification: My Experience!

February 11, 2012

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.

my three minute 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.
my four minute 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.
my one minute 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)

  • shrugs
  • bent over row
  • flex- fingers clasped, arms out in front, rounded back


  • shoulder press
  • front raise
  • flex-arm across chest

biceps, triceps

  • bicep curl
  • tricep kickback
  • flex- overhead tricep stretch

hip adductors and abductors

  • side laying hip adductor
  • side laying hip abductor
  • flex-seated butterfly

gluteus maximus

  • squat
  • rear leg lift
  • flex-laying down, hug knees into chest

quads and/or tibialis anterior

  • squat
  • standing knee extension
  • flex-standing quad stretch

hamstrings and/or gastrocnemius/soleus

  • lunge
  • 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

erector spinae

  • 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!

Written Exam

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!

Overall Experience

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!

20 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2012 5:06 pm

    Yeah Carlita!

    I’m so excited for you. I know you passed. The day sounds really intense, wow. I had no idea what any of the certifications required so this is interesting. I’ve always had immense respect for instructors, person trainers, those who study and lead others to fitness – such a noble job.

    I think you’re going to be so good at this!

    And I can’t wait for you to start creating your own awesome workouts.

    • Michele permalink
      September 10, 2012 5:09 am

      Did you practice the plank prior to the class?

  2. February 11, 2012 5:06 pm

    I mean workouts that you teach others. HAHAH… i know you already create your own workouts!

  3. February 21, 2012 9:50 am

    haha i knew what you meant…and I’m going to!…soon as i get settled in CO 🙂

  4. Michele permalink
    September 4, 2012 5:45 am

    Did you pass?

  5. September 8, 2012 4:06 am

    I did! Are you planning on taking it soon?

    • Summers, Michele D. CIV permalink
      September 10, 2012 3:41 am

      Yes. I will be taking the cert test sept 14

      • Jennifer permalink
        September 12, 2012 9:57 am

        I’ll be taking the exam on the 14th as well. Is anyone taking it on Long Island by any chance? I’m a nervous wreck just thinking about it.

    • Michele permalink
      September 10, 2012 5:14 am

      Yes. I will take the test on sept 14. I’m so scared and very nervous. I have also tried to find someone else who taking the test as well…no luck there. Maybe I will see someone I know in class.

      • September 10, 2012 5:01 pm

        Good for you! Don’t be nervous…I know, easier said than done, but if I could go back and tell myself that I would! Just study the material, ask any and all questions during the workshop and be confident!

      • Summers, Michele D. CIV permalink
        September 11, 2012 3:05 am

        Do you know if they go over all three levels of an exercises and if I should study ahead of time for the individual portion?

  6. Michele permalink
    September 11, 2012 3:12 am

    I’m sorry I might have already asked if they go over the three levels of the exercises for the individivdual presentation or should I study ahead of time?

    • September 11, 2012 4:32 am

      yes, they will go over the three different levels. the main instructor will give you practice time, time to ask her questions on how to modify, what each level is, etc. you can pick any exercise you want. we had some people show a short Zumba routine. just keep it simple. most people went with a squat or plank or pushup. so yes, as a group she will discuss how the individual presentation will go, what you need to do, need to show, need to say, etc. and then she’ll give you time to practice in smaller groups, before the real thing.

  7. Michele permalink
    September 11, 2012 4:39 am

    Ok, thanks

  8. Michele permalink
    September 17, 2012 5:49 am

    I’m happy to say I took the AFAA group certification on Sept 14. I felt pretty good about everything except for one stretch I did incorrectly. I tried to go back and correct it after everyone had finished. I notice the instructors where changing something…I can only hope it was my score.

    Does AFAA send you a break down of the areas you did not do well in. I will be in extreme agony waiting 4-6 weeks for the test results. I almost wish I could re-take the practical again Oct 7 but I know that would not be allowed until I receive my test results.

    • September 23, 2012 4:58 am

      I’m sure you did great! yes, the results will be mailed to you with your score and how well/poorly you scored in each area. As long as you did ok on the practical presentation and the written exam i’m sure you passed! let me know when you get your results back!

      • Summers, Michele D. CIV permalink
        September 24, 2012 9:42 am

        I passed. I found out today. Thanks your website was very helpful

  9. Mary permalink
    February 7, 2013 3:25 pm

    I am so happy to have found this! I am stressing out studying for this test and this has calmed my nerves a little knowing the process step by step. I am going tomorrow and the nerves are killing me! Thank you for all the details!

  10. Celia permalink
    March 6, 2013 1:39 pm

    Thank you for the info!!! I’m taking the test in few weeks. For the individual presentation I’d like to demostrate squats.
    Level 1: hands on thighs
    Level 2: arms out
    I need help with Level 3 I don’t know what to do, can you guys please help me?

    Thank you!! 🙂

  11. March 12, 2013 12:11 pm

    OH YES! Awesome sauce ; ) Thanks so much for this I am a little ADD when it comes to study and prep, just passed my personal training cert and getting group fitness cert end of this month!!! This is such a great nerve calmer for anyone who is getting ready to do it ; ) I may have to pay it forward too on my FB page and Blog…Better Believe Fit ❤ XOX

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