Get Certified Q&A

How do group fitness certifications work? Do I have to be certified individually for each class type?

I decided to use AFAA for my certifications due to its national recognition and affordable price, and completed them on an APEX weekend (where AFAA discounts the price to $99). They have two APEX sessions per year: one in the fall and one in the spring.  There are a number of certification choices for each type of class, but I chose to stick with Primary Group Fitness, because it was the most general. I also had a special interest in kickboxing, and felt I could learn additional skills above and beyond what I would from primary alone, so I got this one as well. You can take additional workshops to become certified in classes such as Pilates, Pump, and Zumba (note: many of these “Branch” certifications are trademarked and are therefore not offered through AFAA- not all require the general certification). Depending on the gym, you may be required to have the appropriate certifications to teach the class. Some gyms are more relaxed about this while others are stricter (in the end, it’s mostly a liability thing). With the general group fitness certification, you should be able to teach most cardio and toning classes like bootcamp and sculpt.

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I want to get certified. What do I have to do?

At some point before the date of your workshop, you need to get CPR and AED certified. Most hospitals offer these workshops and charge you less than AFAA does (but I believe the AFAA CPR/AED workshop is available online).

You are also required to study and memorize most of the material in advance of the session you are registered for (this involves buying a large book from the organization testing you). The first part of your exam will consist of a physical practical, where you are asked to demonstrate exercises appropriate for each muscle group requested. The second part is a written exam with 100 multiple-choice questions. You are required to score 80% or higher to receive a certification.  The entire session usually lasts about 8 hours or so, and much of it is dedicated to review and physical conditioning- the exam is at the end of the day. (And, yes, you do get a lunch break!).

Once I’m certified, is there anything else I have to do?

Once you have been certified, you are required to update every two years. You can do this either through CEU’s or a re-test. You need to have 15 CEU’s per certification over the course of the two years to qualify for a re-certification (so, for example, if I wanted to renew both kickboxing and primary group fitness, I’d need to take 30 CEU’s). You will also have to update your CPR/AED certification every two years.

Additionally, most gyms (the ones that hire you as an independent contractor) will require that you get your own insurance. This costs around $100-150 per year, which you earn back quickly provided you are teaching somewhere.

What other organizations offer group fitness certifications? 

Other group fitness certifications include ACE, AFPA, and ASFA. You’ll want to make sure that the certification you get is acceptable at most facilities- typically this excludes certifications obtained online.