Monday, May 19, 2014

Inside the AFAA Group Fitness Trainer Certification...

Hey Everyone,

 So, I just took my test yesterday and was SO nervous going into it!! I think I have really bad test anxiety not knowing what I was getting into. I had taken the Personal Fitness Test, though AFAA, about 2 and 1/2 years ago and was amazed at HOW MUCH EASIER this written test was over the Personal Test. I also was a little nervous at the fact that the workshop was only 4-5 hours, while the PFT was an entire extra day (trust me, you need it).

I would like to preface this first by saying I'm not sure what your, as the reader, background is...whether it be already teaching and just need this degree for your gym or you're starting out from DAY 1. I'm going to assume you enjoy taking classes and are ready to start teaching with no previous group class teaching background.

OK, so HERE is what I suggest.

1. Register early and buy the book
  I lived about 2 hours away from the actual location of AFAA and it took almost a week and 1/2 to get my book. When you register for the workshop you get the study guide (and a practice test?) but the book is separate as well as arriving separate from the other materials.

So, once you get everything, breathe'll be fine lol Open the study guide and read through it. The first part of it really breaks everything down for you.

There are 2 major parts to this test:

A. Part 1: The Practical
     A. Warmup/Cardio/cool down
     B Muscle exercises/flexibility
     C. Teaching segment

B. Part 2: The Written test

OK.. So, Personally I put part A off for a while and focused on part B for the majority of my studying. I originally gave myself about 3 months to study and review. I have a pretty active life style (racing/running/training..etc etc) . SO...AGAIN, If you sign up for your workshop date BEFORE you get your materials, I HIGHLY suggest registering 3-4 months out. Things happens..aka LIFE,

Allow yourself some days off from studying and time for review. Plus if you register beforehand I feel like you won't keep putting it off and putting it off, the deadline helps.

(Minus the study guide, I think I left it at the testing site :( )

So you have your date and materials, where to start? Look at your study guide, at the very beginning it mentions what chapters you will need to cover and it breaks it down in an outline by segments.  Thankfully you do not need to read every single page in this book, some chapters are skipped.

Step 1:
I know that I am a speed reader and try to read to get through things instead of actually grasping the material, so I read through the material, noting the important parts with a highlighter.
Step 2:
Once through a chapter, I would go back and write down in a notebook what I highlighted
Step 3:
I would complete the chapter in the study guide, answering the questions.

You don't HAVE to do it this way, but I know this is most beneficial for me.
Some just went through the chapters, looking for the answers in the study guide, and that's as in depth as they got.  So that part is totally up to you

After completing the study guide I attempted my practice test (writing the answers on a separate sheet). The practice test doesn't have 100 questions but it's still the same idea, passing is a 20%.  On the actual test, for the certification, you have 100 questions and are allowed to miss 20 questions (20%). The first time I only passed the practice test by 2 questions and was a little nervous with that. I love the fact that each answer has the corresponding chapter a long with the question you missed. For me I missed a lot of questions from the same chapter, so, I went back, saw what I missed, and re-read the chapter.

Following the practice test I made flashcards. I took a lot of the terms from the study guide as well as the multiple choice options from the test. If I didn't know what a term was on the test, it was made into a flash card.

I kept the flash cards with me in my purse. I used them in the car (when my husband was driving on long trips), while sun bathing on the beach..etc etc. They're a lot easier to carry around than that huge book and notebook.
I later retook the practice test and did much better.

Part 1: The Practical Portion.. ..Alright. So this part is SO much easier than it sounds in the book. I freaked out a little more than I should have. Luckily I just became certified in a certain type of cardio class and helped me get over my nerves for this section.

Part 1A: The warmup/cardio...
...ALRIGHT, so.. This part you do in a group. You are lined up and the examiner will play a fitness mix song from her selection. You get 3 minutes to do a warmup segment that shows 3 feet variation. There is no cueing, there is no talking. Basically you just move in your space to the music, demonstrating you know a slow, low heart rate warmup that has 3 different feet movement. I marched, then I tapped side to side, incorporating low arm movements, and then tapped to the front evolving that into a forward march and back wards march. I kept everything low and very small. She then cued us to increase intensity AKA move and involve more arms. This would be the end half of your warm up. Same as the warm up, no cueing, nothing verbal just moving your body showing YOU know how to increase the intensity. I actually stole some moves from my other certification's teacher. I included a grapevine with arms, I spun the grapevine marched back, toe tapped, and then marched to the front ending with some arms. After doing that for a while I did some other arm reaches. The examiner cued us to lower the intensity. I once again went back to segments from the 1st warm up. Lower arms, side step, and then eventually a march.

Part 1B: Muscle Exercise/ Flexibility.

       Copied from the Study Guide
a. Chest and Back (Category of Evaluation 3*)
Grouping 1: pectorals
Grouping 2: trapezius, rhomboids, and/or latissimus dorsi
b. Shoulders and Arms (Category of Evaluation 4*)
Grouping 1: deltoids
Grouping 2: biceps and/or triceps
c. Hips and Buttocks (Category of Evaluation 5*)
Grouping 1: hip abductors and/or adductors
Grouping 2: gluteus maximus
d. Legs: Front and Back (Category of Evaluation 6*)
Grouping 1: quadriceps and/or tibialis anterior
Grouping 2: hamstrings and/or gastrocnemius/soleus
e. Torso (Core): Front and Back (Category of Evaluation 7*)
Grouping 1: rectus abdominis and/or obliques
Grouping 2: erector spinae

   This section is detailed in your study guide and broke down into categories. NOW, here is where I was most nervous/confused about. In the book it mentions A. Pectorals. Ok that's fine. 2 strength exercises for that, 1 stretch. Fine, THEN it mentions a section that lists : Rhomboids, Traps, and/or Latts. I was like um...are they going to pick from that? Do WE pick from that? or does it mean we need to know 2 strength exercises for each?  and then it mentioned we may/may not have access to weights/bands. I was was seriously stressing over this. SO..fear not. Within the category of the :Rhomboids/Traps/Lats, you must demonstrate only 2 strength exercises and 1 stretch. So I did Rows and flys. With the back and lower legs there are many exercises that use multi joint areas (lunges/squats). What they want is demonstration of knowledge for PRIMARY movers. Take a crunch for instance, yes you're using obliques but the PRIMARY muscle moving is your rectus abdominus. With the weight issue, my examiner didn't want us to use weights, in fear that it would cause our form to be out of alignment. With the row I did not use any weights or band. I simply hinged at my hip flexors, feet shoulder width apart, back supported and rowed as if I had a band or weight in my hand. They do judge you on your form, being that you must demonstrate proper form when teaching.  For each category you must demonstrate 2 strength exercises and 1 flexibility/stretch. You can mix them up if it's a category that lists 2-3 muscles. For the Biceps/triceps category, We all performed a bicep crunch and then for our 2nd strength performed a type of tricep exercise. Same with the Abs/obliques . I did a crunch for my first strength and then a bicycle crunch for my 2nd. My examiner went over this section in GREAT detail and even did a few practice sessions with us. I went in with some basics moves in my head but she really helped me feel prepared for this section. You will also do this section in the group .

Part 1C: This part sounds scary but, trust me, it's not. My examiner, again, went over this in great detail, gave us examples, and then if we demonstrated the knowledge during the test , cut us off before the 2 minutes was up. So, basically what this part does is show you know how to modify and progress a certain exercise for people in your class. You can do a cardio section, a weight , or a flexibility. Honestly I think the easiest is a strength/flexibility exercise. You are to pick something, talk about it a little bit, then show you know how to do it in 3 levels. For example I chose a crescent pose. I went in front of my group, introduced myself and welcomed them to the class (welcome). Then I introduced the exercise " now that we're all warmed up we are going to work on those tight hip flexors we don't spend a lot of time stretching." So I instructed my class to get in table top position on their mats, instructor the correct body posture , then began the instruction to get into the crescent pose: Foot between the leg arms on the mat, back knee on the mat. This was my level 1, level 2 we lifted the back knee up into a runners lunge, level 3 hands off the mat into crescent pose. You can do anything, Pushups, crunches , or even a grapevine (level 1 grape fine, level 2 legs up, level 3 hop ). It has to be the SAME exercise but starting at a lower level and progressing up to a higher level. This is really easy and only lasts 1-2 minutes.

And guess what? Your done with the practical portion!! Horray! Like I said earlier, by the time we were finished I was like, that was it?! lol MUCH more easier than I thought it would be.

Before the workshop began
Some tips/advice I would give...
#1...The muscles that are on the practical, know where they are A. that helps during the practical and B there may/may not be a chart where you have to give a name to an arrow, on the multiple choice test, to the muscle it's pointing to.

#2, Know your planes. It helps to thing if you put an imaginary glass of window in front of your body "how would you wash it

#3 BRING A HOODIE..omg I was FREEZING in that gym I was in.

#4 pay the extra $$ and go to a smaller test. Ok, so I know the APEX testing sites are much cheaper but, I've heard they are HUGE 200+ people. My workshop had 7? people in it and I got one on one attention from the instructor making sure what I was doing was right.

#5 Use the materials. I was second guessing myself the entire time "Oh i'm not ready, I'm not ready". I got to the workshop and barley had to take notes. I could answer almost every question she asked . She even said herself not everything subject in the book is covered on the test. The most important are the major muscles, some of the special populations (older/arthritis) , and the AFAA 5 questions. They were provided on my test but just go over them and make sure you understand them.

Every test is different so , what may have been on my test could not be on yours. At the workshop, most of the time the examiners know what's on the test. They will give you as much help as they can, not wanting you to fail. I was a little questionable with 2-3 questions of the test but I had remembered my examiner made it a point to mention one of the answers So, I ended up choosing that particular answer.

I haven't received my results yet but left feeling good about how I did.
I hope this helps and wish you the best of luck.

I didn't know these existed before my test but here are some links to websites of flashcards I've found and other people's websites.
Flash Cards
Confessions of a Former Couch Potato Blog's Experience
ONLINE STUDY GUIDE- Now, i'm pretty sure this is the ONLINE Group fitness study guide for those taking the test online via webcam, however the question section is still the same. The calendar is referring to the videos though that you are going to watch if taking this online. If you are attending the workshop then there are no videos

Please feel free to reply to this blog or my email if you have any questions!

1 comment:

  1. David is the newest member of the training team at Absolute Fitness. He has been certified by several organizations for personal training including a certification Boxing Gym in AZ