AFAA recommends you have experience teaching fitness classes before you take the exam. If you do not have experience, you may find it helpful to find a mentor to shadow. Seasoned instructors can guide you on when to say your cues, how to choreograph your routines, ways to put together playlists and how to design and structure a class. Another option is to take an AFAA workshop that prepares you to instruct fitness classes. Regardless of your teaching experience, before your certification can be approved, your CPR must be current. You must be at least 18 to take the exam.
Plan to spend one to three months studying for your instructor exam. AFAA offers textbooks, manuals, practice tests and online tutorials to help you prepare. Educate yourself thoroughly on such topics as anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, nutrition, program design, injury prevention, class structure, strength training, choreography, cuing, flexibility, business development and your legal responsibilities. If you choose an onsite test, study the manual on your own and plan to attend the review workshop before you take the exam. Alternatively, study for your exam by viewing the 14 online modules and then registering at a site, or for an online certification test. After your register for the online course, you have one year to complete the exam.
AFAA's certification questions thoroughly test your group-fitness knowledge. Be prepared to answer questions relating to terms such as inversion and eversion, abduction and adduction, retraction and protraction and elevation and depression. Some questions may require you to differentiate between the training heart rate and resting heart rate as well as pulse and stroke volume. Exam questions may also test your knowledge of physical fitness components such as muscular strength, cardiorespiratory fitness, flexibility and coordination.
Whether you take your certification onsite or online, you are required to pass a 100-question, multiple-choice test. You have one hour to complete the test and are monitored through your webcam if you are taking the test on a computer. You are also expected to teach different segments of a group exercise class. These include a warm-up, cooldown, cardiovascular choreography, strengthening exercises such as squats, pushups and situps, and flexibility exercises. At an onsite certification, you'll perform these with a group of instructors as examiners walk around, but you may also be called on to lead a portion of a class, so be prepared to speak to the entire group. For the online exam, you participate in a 50-minute group exercise session via webcam, so you are required to have a microphone, a webcam and high-speed Internet with a printer.