So, you want to become a fitness intructor?

TGIF! While I’m on day 2 of my road trip to Michigan with my parents, I thought I would re-post a guest post that I did for Kendall last week. I know I tend to glaze over guest post links and since I’ve had a couple of people ask me what the process is to become a fitness instructor, I thought it was a blog post worth posting again right on Burpees to Bubbly! This is mostly specific to the general group exercise certification, but if you want to learn more about my kickboxing certification, please let me know!

After college, I spent many hours at the Oak Square YMCA, where I met some awesome instructors and friends (Liz, Kim, Athena, Jen, and Ashley, just to name a few). I took Zumba classes, Kickboxing classes, Total Body Conditioning classes, Build and Burn classes… you get the idea. The gym became one of my favorite places to go because I had such a great network of people to socialize with… ones who shared my passion for all things health and fitness. It was at this time that I started thinking about getting my certification to become an instructor.

Why AFAA?

If you’ve ever looked into getting your group exercise certificate, you’ve probably noticed that there are a number of different programs (AFAA, ACE, ACSM) to choose from. AFAA and ACE are, in my opinion, the most popular programs to take as they are widely accepted across most gyms. After doing some research and talking to some other instructors, I decided that the AFAA Primary Group Exercise certification was a better choice for me. I liked the fact that they held the course on-site and put a lot of emphasis on the practical aspect of the exam. Granted, it’s good to know the information in the book, but I think even more than that, it’s important to be able to instruct well, safely, accurately and appropriately, and I think AFAA did this very well.  In addition, I realized that they have a February APEX deal where they run certifications for $99 instead of the $299 that the normal AFAA program runs for! It seemed like a no brainer to me to wait a few months and sign up for this instead of paying $400+ for the course, manuals/study guides and CPR training.

What preparation work is needed prior to the exam?

You have the option to buy the texts books, study guides and video, so in typical Monique fashion, I bought all of them so that I had everything I needed in order to be fully prepared. I literally read through everything and highlighted and made notes.

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While most of the information was really interesting, there were definitely some boring chapters and/or chapters that wouldn’t likely pertain to the kind of teaching I planned on doing, but since we were tested on everything, I read and studied everything.

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Studying with wine helps 😉 But, let’s be honest, wine helps most things!

In addition to reading the book, I made photo copies of the study guide so that I could fill it out multiple times (I retain information best when I write it down, so the more times I write it down, the better I remember it!). This ended up being a great decision and was something I did when I got my AFAA Kickboxing certification, too (also done in February to save money!).

What happens on test day?

Both certifications I took were held at local BSCs. We spent the whole day going through the study guide, an accepted warm up, every basic exercise and doing various demos and practical exams. It was really nice to spend the majority of the day going through everything we needed to know for the exam, as well as have time to practice doing the approved moves and demo’s.

Once the afternoon rolled around, it was test time! The practical exam was first and we had to do the following demonstrations:

  • Proper warm up & cardio training (8 minutes as a group)

  • Strength & flexibility demonstrations (15 minutes as a group): chest & back, shoulders & abs, hips & buttocks, legs: front & back, core: front & back

  • Solo presentations- demo 1 move, showing all 3 different levels of intensity

This was actually a little scary! We all got lined up with numbers and while we performed the different demonstrations, judges walked around and gave us scores. I decided to do jumping jacks for my solo presentation, showing a beginner level, intermediate level and advanced level.

Once the practical part of the exam was complete, we finished out the day with the 100 question multiple choice exam. The day was long and physically and mentally exhausting and I have to say that when I left there and called my mom to tell her how it went, I was in tears, convinced that I showed the wrong stretch for the biceps and therefore, failed the entire exam (so dramatic, I know!). But, I’m happy to report that I passed both the written and practical aspects of the exams with flying colors!

When do you find out if you passed?

The hardest part about taking exams like this is the wait period after the exam until you find out your score, right?! It took about 4-6 weeks to get the scores as we were scored both on the written exam and practical exam. The written exam was easy to score as it was all multiple choice, but the practical exam was much more complicated to score. There were multiple judges in the room and they needed to compare their scores with each other in order to determine the final score. If you got low scores from 2 or more judges on any particular aspect of the exam, you were in danger of not passing that part of the exam. If this were to happen,  you could merely retake the exam that you didn’t pass (either written or practical).

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How do you start teaching?

So, you take your exam, you pass your exam, you’re ready to teach… but where?! And how do you go about applying for jobs? Lucky for me, I befriended an instructor at the Wellington BSC and she definitely helped me out. She emailed the group exercise coordinators with my information so that I could be put on the next audition list. {If you’re interested in teaching at a particular gym, talk to the instructors and ask them to send the coordinator your name and email address as it helps to be kept in the loop and possibly even get an audition.} After some back and forth, the new audition date was released: April 14th- my birthday. Perfect, right?! Not necessarily, but I wanted to start teaching ASAP so I took 3 hours out of my day and headed to the auditions. I was more nervous than most because I wasn’t just applying for another job at a new-to-me gym, I was applying for my FIRST job at my FIRST gym. Yikes! Thankfully, my mentor instructor had prepped me well and I did great! About a month later, I was offered my first class: Friday nights at 5:30. Certainly not ideal, but as a new instructor trying to break into the industry, I couldn’t really be picky or choosy, so I took it… and ended up loving it!!!

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What to teach?

With the AFAA group exercise certification, you are certified to teach most forms of group exercise classes, but if you want to teach specialized classes like Zumba, BodyPump, yoga, etc., you need additional certifications. I went into my audition ready to demonstrate cardio kickboxing and total body conditioning. I have been an avid cardio kickboxing goer for years and I have a bit of a dancers background, so learning routines and combinations and keeping beat comes very naturally to me, hence why I wanted to teach cardio kickboxing! The first class I started teaching was a Total Body Conditioning class, which changed to a UXF Burn class just a few months later.

From there, I took on many more (probably too many more) classes, but have scaled back over the past 6 months or so and have a schedule that I love!

  • Wednesdays- 6:30 pm UXF Burn at the Central Square BSC

  • Thursdays- 5:30 pm SHRED followed by 6:30pm Cardio Kickboxing at the Central Square BSC

  • Every other Saturday- 10am Cardio kickboxing at the Oak Square YMCA

What’s Next?

If you’re anything like me, the more you learn about fitness, the more you get invested in it. Now that I teach a fairly wide range of classes, I want to learn how to teach even more! Ultimately, getting my personal training certificate should be next on my list, but in all honesty, I love the class setting. I feed off of the members energy and LOVE the feeling of instructing a big group! With that said, I would like to get a Dynamax training and possibly a Tabata training under my belt… and then I’ll look into getting my personal training certificate 😉

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I have been trained to teach UXF Burn and UXF Core through the BSC

With that said, with AFAA you are required to have 15 continuing education credits (CEU’s) every 2 years, which I think is good because it forces us to stay up to date with the latest trends and certifications. My two years will be up in February (I can’t believe it’s almost been 2 years!!), and I have about half of the credits. To get the rest, I think I am going to go to MANIA in November. Athena went last year and I was so jealous, so I’ll definitely be going this year!!

I think that about covers it, but if I missed anything, please let me know 🙂

Questions for you: Have you ever thought of becoming a fitness instructor? If you are an instructor, what’s your favorite class to teach?

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I’ll be back with regular blogging {hopefully} on Monday 🙂

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Weekly Workouts

Is it really Monday already?! Sometimes I feel like I am more ready for Monday to come around than others, but today is definitely not one of those times. Between hosting Sara’s shower all day on Saturday, going out a little on Saturday night and going to my friend Christy’s surprise bridal shower yesterday, my weekend was a whirlwind and I feel like I didn’t get any down time (not that I am good with that anyway, but still). Don’t get me wrong, I had an absolute blast at all the events that I went to and I am definitely not complaining, but I could certainly use another day in my weekend, that’s all!

Let’s get to the workouts, shall we?

Last Week’s Workouts:

  • Monday- Hotel workout in NY and taught Dynamax
  • Tuesday- I took this as a total rest day, aren’t you proud?! I didn’t even do a lot of walking since I drove to work and I skipped out on the Triceps Tuesday April Arms Challenge workout. Since I was gone all weekend, I felt like I had too much other stuff to catch up on (laundry, picking up, organizing, cooking, blogging), so my workout took a back seat, and that’s totally fine!
  • Wednesday– Since I skipped my AAC workout on Tuesday and couldn’t figure out a good way to incorporate Wednesday’s workout into my class, I decided to do both of them before I taught. It.Was.Awesome. I ran 1.5 miles on the treadmill and then got busy with tri’s and bi’s and abs.

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  • Thursday- Ran through Cambridge like a crazy bag lady, taught TBC (Supersets) and Kickboxing

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  • Friday- Got up and did the burpee tabata from Thursday’s AAC workout and the Friday workout from AAC before work. It felt so good to be done my workout for the day by 8am!
  • Saturday- Got up and ran 1.5 miles and then did 2 circuits of the Sunday AAC workout (wanted to rest on Sunday and not Saturday) and did some extra core work.
  • Sunday- Walked 2 miles with Danielle and then gardened for about a half hour.

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This Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- My own cardio & teaching Dynamax. It’s the first day of the new session and I am so excited!!
  • Tuesday- This might be a rest day, but if I can wake up and do something before work, I’ll do that.
  • Wednesday- Cardio and/or biceps blast before teaching UXF
  • Thursday- TBC (which, I recently learned is now called Shred or something. Not sure how I feel about that!) & Cardio Kickboxing
  • Friday- I might do a Deck of Cards workout before work, run during my lunch break, or go play in the UXF area at the Wellington BSC after work is over.
  • Saturday- Teaching Kickboxing at the YMCA. It’s been a few weeks and I’ve missed it! Can’t wait to remind them about what they’ve missed 😉 [insert evil laugh here]
  • Sunday- Rest! and gardening. I really want to get everything planted this weekend.

Your turn! What was your favorite workout last week? Any new moves or exercises to share?

Remember Me?

Hey everyone! I am back! So sorry to ditch out for an extended amount of time, but let me tell you, it was needed. After the events that went on in Boston last week, and the fact that I was going to NYC for the weekend for another birthday celebration (I know. I’m out of control), I figured taking some time to step away from the computer, twitter, facebook, instagram, etc. and spend that time with friends and family was way more important (and SO necessary).

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But, I am here now and have lots of recapping to do, that’s for darn sure!

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Before I get too much into my recapping, let’s check in with last week’s workouts, shall we?

  • Monday- I was all amped up to get in a run before teaching Dynamax, but after hearing about the bombings, I felt numb and wanted nothing to do with the gym. I thought I had to teach and I ended up getting to the gym early, so I hopped on an elliptical and mindlessly peddled away as I watched the news unfold. I didn’t even break a sweat. My body was there, but my mind wasn’t. I felt foolish for being one of “those” people at the gym, and wanted to tell everyone I was only there because I had to teach. Luckily, only 3 members showed up and none of them felt like working out either, so we decided to part ways and pick up this week.
  • Tuesday– My parents were coming into the city to celebrate my birthday, so I got up and did a sweaty jump rope & body weight circuit workout. I was going to post the workout on Friday, but clearly that didn’t happen. I’ll post it this week- promise! I also did lots of walking with my parents!

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  • Wednesday- I ran a little over 2 miles outside through Cambridge (so scary to think about that!) before I taught UXF Burn. Classes were still a bit down, but I was happy to have some people show up.
  • Thursday- Taught my double at Central Square. We did a stations workout in TBC and a high cardio format in kickboxing. I didn’t even DO all of the workout in TBC, but I was seriously so sore on Friday. (I also want to say that looking back, it is so crazy to think that I was just doors away from the 7-11 robbery only a few hours before it happened. That hit really close to home.)
  • Friday- While we were in lockdown, my roommate and I got antsy and when I suggested that she do my Friday April Arms Challenge workout, she happily agreed. We did 3 rounds with 5 minutes of cardio in between each round. We also did some plank high fives that I learned from Jen. Loved these!

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  • Saturday- LOTS of walking in NYC!

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  • Sunday- We went jogging in Central Park which was the coolest thing everrrr. But, what made it even better was the fact that there was a BostonStrong race taking place as we got there! I got so emotional seeing everyone running to support Boston, my city.

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This week’s workouts

  • Monday- I was still in NY, so we hit up the hotel gym in the morning. I had to do my April Arms Challenge workout and then did some other stuff. I also taught Dynamax when I got home and was happy that there was an even number of people in class so I didn’t have to really “do” the workout.
  • Tuesday (today)- Nothing besides my triceps workout for the April Arms Challenge. I need to get my life in order! Laundry, cooking, picking up, blogging, etc. Taking a break is nice, but catching up after the break is really not that fun (for me, at least).
  • Wednesday– Cardio & teaching UXF Burn
  • Thursday- Double time! TBC & Kickboxing
  • Friday– I will probably take Friday’s AAC workout and incorporate some cardio.  I might also rest if I end up signing up for a BostonStrong 5K in Southie this weekend (can’t find the link now!).
  • Saturday– Some type of at-home workout. Maybe deck of cards?! We are hosting Amy’s sister’s baby shower at our place on Saturday afternoon so I know we will be busy getting everything ready for that!
  • Sunday- Maybe a 5K, maybe a rest day.

Questions for you: How did you react to the events last week? Did it make you want to work out more to “escape”? or, did you lack motivation? 

I’ll be back with more regular blogging tomorrow! Have a wonderful Tuesday, friends:)

Weekly Workouts

Another week begins! I cannot believe how fast April is flying by. I am not ready for birthday month April to be over yet.

Any readers running the marathon? If so, congrats!!! I am so proud of everyone who is running it- what an incredible accomplishment!

Anyway… let’s get to the workouts! This week is going to be different than usual so it won’t be so boring for you to read about:)

Last week’s workouts

  • Monday- Ran an awesome 4 miles and then taught Dynamax

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  • Tuesday- Triceps Tuesday for the April Arms Challenge and walked in the city!
  • Wednesday- Ran 3.25 miles on the treadmill before teaching UXF

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  • Thursday- Taught TBC and Kickboxing

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  • Friday- Jumped rope and did a big arm workout

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  • Saturday- Taught kickboxing
  • Sunday-Nothing. I wanted to do something, but I didn’t want to get sweaty and ruin my nice, straight hair. Plus, my body was tired so a rest day was smart.

This week’s workouts

  • Monday- Cardio and/or weights before teaching Dynamax
  • Tuesday- I have most of the day off since my parents are coming down for lunch in the city with me, so I’ll definitely do lots of walking, but I might end up working out in the morning and taking a rest day later in the week
  • Wednesday- Cardio and teaching UXF
  • Thursday- Teaching TBC & UXF
  • Friday- Probably heading to the Wellington BSC to “play” with all their cool equipment
  • Saturday- heading to NYC for the night! I want to run in Central Park, but I’m not going to force a workout. I want to enjoy my time there and push my workouts to the back burner for once.
  • Sunday- probably nothing:)

Obviously I will be doing my April Arms Challenge workouts in addition to what I have listed here. Does anyone know of any good classes anywhere on Fridays or Tuesdays?  I’d love suggestions!

Questions for you:What do your workouts look like this week? What is your favorite class to go to?

What do you do when….

You forget an essential item for the gym? Think: sports bra, good socks, hair elastic, headphones, etc… I know I am not alone when I say that this has happened to me more times than I would like to admit. You would think that I would always have these items packed up and ready since I am at the gym more often than I would like to admit, but just recently I forgot an elastic for a class AND another time when I was running a 5K.

Last night, though, it wasn’t me that forgot something, but luckily I could help.  It just meant that I had to teach like this:

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Yup. I let a member (don’t worry, she wasn’t a random member… we are Facebook friends so that makes us pretty much besties, right?!) borrow my sneakers.  It was our midway benchmark workout for Dynamax Boot Camp and I was not about to let her miss out on that just because she forgot her sneakers! Luckily we were the same size and luckily I had already gotten really sweaty:

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[Yes, my shirt says “No one has ever drowned in their own sweat”… although yesterday, I think I almost did. The best part about this shirt is it has a message on the back that is only revealed when you sweat a lot. I love it. Check out this site for more awesome shirts like this! http://www.viewsport.us/]

Anyway, she was able to workout and I was still able to do a lot… I call that a win-win!

Question for you: What is the worst gym essential that you have forgotten?