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AFAA Primary Group Exercise Certification – Geek Turned Athlete

AFAA Primary Group Exercise Certification

Hello All!  This weekend was spent up in Spangdahlem, Germany getting my Primary Group Exercise Certification on Saturday and attending a Spin Instructor Workshop on Sunday.  This post will strictly be about Saturday, and I will post the spin instructor workshop details later.

This was the room that I stayed in on base.  It was really nice for military lodging! DSC02843 DSC02844 DSC02845

For those of you who don’t know about AFAA’s primary group exercise certification, it is a review of AFAA’s Basic Exercise Standards and Guidelines, exercise science and exam criteria, followed by written and practical exams.  You need to this certification (or something similar to it) if you want to teach group exercise at most gyms.  The reason why I took took this workshop was to be able to teach spin class at our gym.

Normally, the price of the certification workshop is $299, but I only paid $114 for the class (this was an APEX event) plus the cost of the book.  You receive:

  • Primary Group Exercise Certification Study Guide
  • Full one-day Certification Review
  • Primary Group Exercise Certification examinations (written and practical)
  • One year AFAA membership ($68 value) or membership extension to current members (this includes a 10% discount on other workshops, etc. for a year)
  • Subscription to American Fitness magazine
    (does not include postage to addresses outside of the U.S.)
  • AFAA Certified Instructor certificate and I.D. card
  • There is a practical component (~1 hour, 20 minutes) to the cert as well as a written component (100 multiple choice questions and ~1 hour).  The practical component is broken down into two parts – Group demonstration (demonstrate a warm-up, cardiorespiratory training, and cool down, 8 min total AND strength and flexibility for each muscle group to include at least 2 strength moves and one flexibility move) and Individual Presentation (1-2 min of three levels of one exercise).

    The whole day was spent like this:

    I. Arrival and Check-In

    II. Welcome, Introduction, and Testing Procedures

    III. Practical Part #1—Review of Basic Anatomy, Kinesiology, Posture and Alignment

    IV. Practical Part #2—The AFAA 5 Questions

    V. Practical Part #3 – Warm-Up and Cardio

    VI. Practical Part #4 – Strength and Flexibility

    VII. Lunch Break (60 minutes)

    VIII. Practical Part #5—More Strength and Flexibility

    IX. Practical Part #6 — Modification and Exercises and Rehearsal for Individual Presentation

    X. Theoretical Review/Questions and Answers

    XI. Break

    XII. Preparation for Written and Practical Examinations

    XIII. Examinations: Written and Practical

    XIV. Final Thank You and Good-Bye

    I think that I did well on the Strength and Flexibility Practical and the Individual Presentation, but the Cardio Practical was horrible.  It was utter chaos in the room.  They lined us all up (20 OF US!!), and we all did our own thing for 8 minutes!! I had no clue what I was doing.  I tried some marching, step touches, and the grapevine.  I tried some other “moves,” but I’m pretty sure that they were my own that I tried to pass off as professional aerobics moves.  I’m sure that “my moves” resembled a drunk person trying to dance complete with an unintentional trip added in for good measure.  I am pretty sure that I followed the guidelines of warming up for 3 min with limbering moves, moderate and high intensity during the main part (next 4 minutes), and slowed down during the cooldown (1 minute).  I was really nervous for this portion of the test because I’m not really a step aerobics type of girl!  I tried my best though!!

    These are pics of the individual presentations.  I decided to do 3 variations of the squat. I’m presenting in the middle pic in the gray shorts!

    • Beginner: Basic Squat
    • Intermediate: Squat w/ Knee Lift
    • Advanced: One-legged Squat

    DSC02847 DSC02850DSC02849

    The 100 question test seemed to go well as I finished it in 45 minutes.

    We shall see if I passed in 4-6 weeks.  It sucks to wait that long, but I will let you all know how it went once I find out!  If you have any questions about the certification, please feel free to ask me at  If you want to read a more detailed account of how these certs work, check this blog out.

    **** Update: I passed!!!  Yay!!!

    I met a couple of great girls from the workshop and we decided to go to dinner at this place where you have to cook your meat on a stone.  It was so cool!!  We started off with some amazing bread and butta!!

    DSC02855 Fabulous Onion Soup!DSC02859 The salad would have been great if the dressing didn’t consist of mainly mayonnaise.  Yuck! (I HATE mayonnaise!)  Actually, the only time I will eat it is if I’m eating my mom’s potato salad, but that is it!DSC02862

    Raw pork and Beef with green beans wrapped in bacon and herb butter.DSC02864 DSC02865 DSC02869

    Served with 3 different types of fried potatoes.  No one really touched these…DSC02871

    Dipping sauces for the meat…DSC02872

    Counterclockwise: Renee, Jackie, and me.  It was a great ending to a nerve-racking day!!DSC02867

    Stay tuned for the Spin instructor class recap!! 😉

    { 13 comments… add one }

    • The Big Blue Dog September 28, 2009, 8:43 pm

      I am sure you did great and passed with flying colors!!

      I always wondered about that certification! Can’t wait to read the follow up post!

    • Jacquelyn September 29, 2009, 8:30 am

      Girl, I was reading your explanation of the cardio practical, and it sounds a whole lot like how I described my own: I was like a new born horse hopped up on whisky and quaaludes, my arms went right, my legs went left, knees clattering together in an off beat, honky-tonk sort of way, and my rear end was down right bi-polar…but hey, we totally made up for it during the spinning workshop!!! J

      • Nicole September 29, 2009, 8:35 am

        haha! I hope we passed!!!!

    • Jessica September 9, 2010, 6:28 pm

      Thanks for the rundown! I’m taking the workshop and it’s so nice to know how the day lines up.

    • Daniela Atanasova June 5, 2012, 4:51 pm

      Hey guys! I attended an AFAA Primery Group Exercise Workshop 2 weeks ago and I just recieved a letter that I failed on the written test. I guess because I couldn’t find the new edittion of the test(the purple one). The old one contains only 75 questions. The new one 100, that’s why I failed with 23 wrong answers… Can you please give me an idea where to buy it from? Last time I tried to find it @ but I couldn’t… Thanks for your help!:-)

      • Nicole June 6, 2012, 11:44 pm

        Daniela, I had no idea that you could buy the test. I studied and read the chapters from the text book recommended for the class. Unfortunately, it is not the “fast” studying method, but I passed the test the first time I took it b/c I put in the time to study (and I had a background in biology). If I hadn’t of had the background, more time would have been needed to study. Good luck on the next time you take the exam!

    • Jenita June 20, 2012, 11:11 am

      Thank you so much for this info!! I’ve finally committed to a test date (Sept 15, during another APEX event) and am a little nervous. Your itinerary and breakdown of the practical part really helped calm my nerves. I think I’m more nervous about the practical than I am about the test. Although, all the terms and anatomy are starting to get jumbled :)

      Congrats on passing and thanks again!

      Fit Girl

      • Nicole June 20, 2012, 4:23 pm

        Good luck to you!!!

    • Lisa Pietsch January 20, 2013, 7:20 pm

      I know this is an old posting, but I’ve learned to point aspiring Primary Group Cert takers to….there are some premade flashcards for studying right there! :) Helped several of my friends ace the test! :)

      • Nicole January 22, 2013, 8:11 am

        Thanks for the comment! What a great idea!

    • Daniela January 23, 2013, 4:50 pm

      Hi girls!
      I forgot to write down that I passed the exam in the summer…Thanks for your help!:-) Yes, I found the flash cards online and this time I studied hard.



    • Kathy February 2, 2014, 7:38 am

      I am getting ready for the exam on February 23, 2014. All of your
      Posts really help. My practice test only has 75 questions, but it said there
      Were some matching questions so I figured we would need
      To point out different muscles . Well, wish me luck. I’m excited. Already
      Teaching Spin classes, but want to try others.

      • Nicole February 11, 2014, 4:28 am

        Kathy, I haven’t been on my blog in quite a few months so I’m just now checking comments. I hope the exam went well for you!


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