So You Want to be a Group Fitness Instructor [Part 2]

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If you missed part one, catch up here.

The AFAA Group Ex cert is pretty easy to obtain, but it is well respected since you can’t just take it online like many you’ll see out there. When you go online to schedule your exam date, you’ll need to pay for the certification and study materials which will be shipped to you. The certification is $300 and the study materials are around $40. Pricey, I know, but you’ll make it back once you start teaching. [I will tell you about a cheaper AFAA Group Ex cert option in a future post so look for that if you want to save moolah.]

In the study materials will be a study guide – fill it out! It basically outlines the written exam. On your scheduled exam day, they do review what will be on the written exam on test day, but if you haven’t studied, you’ll be in trouble since the questions get pretty detailed. It’s not hard, but it will require studying. Lots of people came in with blank study guides and bombed the test. I completed my study guide and got 100% on the test. 🙂


While you are studying in the month or two before test day, get your CPR certification done too. Almost every gym requires their group ex instructors to have it so even if you get your AFAA cert, you can’t teach if you don’t have your CPR cert. Find your local Red Cross for a schedule.

On your exam day [which is usually held at a gym or some sort of rec center], you’ll take a written test and a practical test. They scheduled a full day for me [8 hours], but I was there only for about 6 hours. In the morning they review everything that will be on the written exam and show you what they will be looking for when grading the practical exam.

In the afternoon, you’ll do the practical exam which involves doing a short individual demo teaching a specific exercise [I demonstrated squats] and also a group practical exam where they will call out a muscle group and you just have to demonstrate the proper way to perform an exercise for that muscle [e.g. biceps = do a bicep curl. Easy, right?]. They are fairly particular about some exercises they don’t want to see and about the form on some of them, but they’ll go over all of that before the official test.

Stay tuned for what you do after you get your test results!

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    23 responses to “So You Want to be a Group Fitness Instructor [Part 2]”

    1. This is great info. I’ve been thinking about getting certification to teach cardio kickboxing. I feel like I have so much more info after reading your Part 1 and Part 2 on the topic. Thanks!

      • I think AFAA does a pretty good kickboxing certification. And I’ve heard great things about the TurboKick cert. Which one are you thinking of doing?

    2. This is awesome. I have always wondered how it worked!

      Also that reminds me I need to renew my cpr certification soon, I really think it’s something everyone, not just fitness instructors should be well versed in.

    3. Thank you thank you for doing these posts!! I have been wanting to do this for forever and had no idea where to start!!! I am getting really excited!

    4. Awesome! I love these posts. I could see myself pursuing some sort of fitness instructor/personal trainer career in the future, for sure. And way to go on the 100% 😉 I’d definitely want to have you as my instructor!

      • It really is so fun. When I first started, I was only teaching 1x a week so you could even getting started now before it becomes a career.

        And thanks. I don’t think my score has anything to do with what type of instructor I am (good or bad), but I totally think the gyms should pay me more anyway. hehe

    5. Hi Teri!

      I haven’t seen you for quite awhile. (go CVMS!) I found your blog from Karlee and I love it. Especially because I am all about fitness and food and also have a dream of becoming a Pilates instructor, so keep these certification posts comin!

      • oh my gosh, Kim! So good to hear from you! I’m so glad you like my blog! 🙂

        That is so cool you are into Pilates. I actually tried to go to my very first class today. And the instructor didn’t show up! 🙁

    6. Thanks for this info. I am doing my AFAA cert in February and was wondering about all of this. I have been teaching for years under a different cert but it is still a little nerve wracking to take a test!

    7. SO you are AFAA Group Exercise Certified?
      Question….on the Group Cardio part….do we just pick 3 moves and repeat them thru the 3 min warm up??
      Then…..are we suppose to have it timed to 3 mins to go right into the Cardio segment, or do they tell us when?
      And then in that 5 min of Cardio are we suppose to start out low intensity and work up to high quickly and then come back down within that 5 min (again, timing it to make it correct??) and then go right into Cool down??
      It’s hard using just 3 moves to know how long to do each one and where to start bringing the heart rate down to go into the Cool Down.
      Any suggestions on WHAT moves you did, or how you counted them out ??
      I test on Saturday, and trying to eliminate these questions that I have to be better prepared.
      THANK YOU!!

      • Hi Jacque! I’m so sorry for just now replying. For some reason, your comment went to my spam folder! 🙁 I hope the certification went well for you!!

    8. Hello Teri! My name is Holly, I was googling some things online and came across your website and contact information. I am going for my group fitness instructor certification on November 18th and thought maybe I’d email you and ask you some questions if you we’re available to help!!! Hope you are!

      I’m just a little overwhelmed but I always do this to myself thinking tests or exams are harder and I always get good scores but I don’t want to mess up! I have some nursing background so some of that ties in with this a little bit. Just had some questions based on the exams and what exactly I should be studying for; I have been progressing on my study guide and I’m reading all the chapters it has listed. Maybe you can give me some ideas what I may need to study more of or the information I need to be looking over more.

      I appreciate anything you can help me with and again, thanks for your time! I’m taking my test in Fremont, Ca and I’m so excited!

      -Holly Cohen-
      [email protected]

    9. Ok. AFAA Group Fit cert is now available online. Anyone have any info/advice on that one? Know anyone who has done it? I’m living in Saudi and considering getting this cert because the women on the compound are desperate for classes. It would be nice if I could get the group fit cert online before I went to Texas for the summer and then try to get in some in person course(s) for specific classes while I’m there.

    10. Thanks for the very helpful post! Would love to know if you or anyone else used the recommended book – “Fitness: Theory and Practice”?

    11. Oh, man, thank you so much for this posting! I might be late commenting Teri but I am interested in group ex and I was wondering, do you think it is possible to teach group ex and have a full time job?

    12. Hi, I know this is a dated blog – hopefully you can still help me. I am thinking of becoming a fitness instructor. I have no formal training. How do I start? It seems most people here have some sort of cert already. Thanks for any help.

    13. Thanks for these posts, Teri! If I am asking a questions that someone else already asked, I’m sorry! I am wondering if you have to take a bunch of different certification tests in order to teach classes, or if there is one generic one that you can get and use for kickboxing, pilates, weightlifting classes, etc. I know some other people were commenting that they were going for specific ones, so I just wanted to make sure!

    14. Hi Teri!
      Thanks for this blog. Have you heard of any in-person certifications/ training opportunities?
      Thanks so much.

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