Working on my fitness… instructor certification

June 10, 2016

When I started exercising and losing weight in 2015, I began with Couch to 5k. But after a few months, I realized that I needed to cross train. I had started going to the Y regularly for my Ramblin Rose training and they had recommended some group fitness classes to incorporate into our training. I had always wanted to like group exercise but felt so awkward when I would go into these classes. I didn’t know the moves and routines. I didn’t know how to pick the right weights or setup equipment. I was very critical of myself and worried that I would be in over my head. But I decided to give them a go.

As I started various group fitness classes, I told myself that I needed to try each one at least 2-3 times before writing them off. What I came to find, was that after giving those classes a few chances, I soon started to enjoy them. They started to dictate my schedule and I tailored my runs around them. Some of my favorite classes were Zumba, PiYo, Cycle Beat, and Total Body Strength.

I have since made these classes part of my routine. A few months ago, I started to think… why not try to get certified in group fitness myself? I began doing research and talking to my regular instructors. I decided to go ahead and get AFAA group fitness certification.


Studying poolside while in Virginia for the race this past weekend.

I signed up for the certification program that included the full course materials (textbook, lecture videos, study guide, practice test, and final exam), and set a target date of the beginning of June to complete my certification. I picked that date because it would mean that I could also get certification in PiYo Live and cycling that was being offered in Raleigh around the middle of the month. This way, my certification credits for those programs would count to the regular AFAA continuing education credits that I would need to eventually start to obtain.

I started slowly with my studying. Primarily reading the textbook, then watching the videos as a cluster to supplement what I had just read, all the while filling out the study guide. I’ll admit, it was hard. I haven’t really studied since college which has been years now. I also never really did a lot that involved knowledge of human anatomy so a lot of the beginning chapters felt pretty new to me. Thankfully, as I progressed in my studying to the actual class formats, setup and design, and functionality, I was able to relate it to exercises that I regularly took. Information became more like ‘common sense’ based on what I had experienced.

My studying primarily took place evenings, for just one or two hours a night, a few times a week. As you’ve probably guessed from previous posts, I keep pretty busy between two young kids, family life, my career, and then on top of that, my regular exercise and running schedule. But where I could, I would study. I found the subject interesting and I felt like it was information that helped my own workout routines and healthy lifestyle.


Evening study sessions. My cats liked to keep me company.

Throughout it all, I also had the amazing support of my husband, several friends that knew I was working on it (I didn’t want to broadcast it because I was nervous of failing), and my own fitness instructors that I saw regularly. The latter were so supportive at offering to test me on the course materials, giving me tips on the exam, and telling me I could co-teach with them as I got started or just pick their brains on how they run their classes. I really didn’t have an end goal in mind in terms of ‘I want to be an instructor of xyz’, but I knew I wanted to go for the general certification and get a couple of specialized ones because they happened to be what I enjoyed, and thought I could possibly personally teach. Growing up, I was painfully shy, but I think maturity and circumstances like moving across the country with my family and having to start ‘over’ and build up a new community for ourselves has really made it where I am not as scared in situations that would have terrified me before. Don’t get me wrong, the thought of being in front of a group of people doing a presentation or leading a class is totally nerve-wracking and overwhelming to me, but I’m trying to remind myself that it’s just like when I work out on my own, I’m just sharing the experience with other people and hopefully inspiring them like my own instructors did for me.

Anyways, back to certification. About three weeks ago, I had the (dreaded) realization that June was fast approaching and I didn’t feel anywhere near ready to take this test before my PiYo Live and cycle certification weekend. It was time to crack down. I rearranged my evening workout schedules, and put down the remote control. I spent every evening in front of my textbook and computer watching the lecture videos. Last week, I went ahead and committed to a final exam date and scheduled it for this past Tuesday morning.

I’m happy to report, that I passed.


So, now what?

Well, this weekend is my big certification weekend for PiYo Live and cycling. I’ll be doing those in person, which will be great because I’ll get more of a hands on experience with the routines (as AFAA was all digital) and human interaction. My understanding is we’ll be breaking up into groups to try out cueing, leading through the workouts, etc. So I’m really excited to get that under my belt. From there, it’s just going to be practice, practice, practice! I’m already starting to work on some ideas for cycle class routines based on what I love when I attend a class, and I’m starting my PiYo challenge group this upcoming week. In addition to that, I’ve been going to every PiYo class I can physically make it to in person, so I think that’s really helped my practice. I’m also working on recruiting friends and neighbors to be my guinea pigs while I get used to leading people in a workout. It’s all for fun, and an added bonus onto my already busy life, but I’m excited to share the joy that I find in exercising with others.


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