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.


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.



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.

kickboxing study night

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).


kickboxing cert

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!!!


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 😉


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 🙂

Weekly Workouts!

Hey everyone! Happy Memorial Day! Anyone going to any parades? We usually do, but not this year… bummer! I LOVE parades. Anyway, let’s get to the workouts.

Last Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- Besides walking to and from work from the T and walking home from the T (in all, about 2.5 miles), I rested. I was really sore from workouts over the weekend and wanted to make dinner, so I opted to take the time I gained from not working out and be productive around the apartment!
  • Tuesday- I went to the Wellington BSC and had an awesome workout! I went on the elliptical for 30 minutes, ran for 10 minutes on the treadmill, did lots of ab stuff on the TRX bands and did this:


I ran these stairs- they were killer.



  • Thursday- I taught SHRED and Kickboxing. In SHRED, rather than compound movements (like I usually like to do- more bang for the buck), I focused on lifting heavier and only focusing on one exercise (squats, biceps curls, etc.). Fun to switch things up!
  • Friday- I played around for about 30 minutes practicing new kickboxing combinations for Saturday, trying out some new moves I learned from Women’s Health and used my band for upper body work.
  • Saturday- Taught a VERY sweaty kickboxing class. I’d show you a picture of my sports bra (signs of a good workout=sports bra soaked), but that would be gross. Athena came, which is always fun!
  • Sunday- Mostly a rest day, although I spent some time in the morning doing glute and ab work!

This Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- I am still home in Maine and will definitely be doing something, just not sure what that is yet. Maybe a jog, maybe Deck of Cards, maybe a strength workout with mom and my sister??
  • Tuesday- I’ll head to the gym after work and probably do something similar to last week: cardio and strength training!
  • Wednesday- Cardio before class and then teaching UXF Burn.
  • Thursday- SHRED and Kickboxing
  • Friday- something low-impact, as I have realized that I need that after teaching (and doing) a double and knowing that I have to teach Kickboxing the next day. I like to use Friday’s to focus on strength training!
  • Saturday- 3rd week in a row of teaching Kickboxing at the YMCA! Woohoo! Such a high energy crowd- I love it.
  • Sunday- Rest 🙂

Questions for you: What was your favorite workout last week? Try anything new? Anything make you really sore? Looking forward to anything this week? Do share!

Wellness By The Water Retreat

You guys. I had the most amazing day on Sunday at the Wellness By The Water Retreat, which was hosted at Le Meridien Cambridge hotel. Going into this day, I knew that I would be in my element as the website described it as:

Join us for a luxury fitness and wellness retreat in the city. Escape to beautiful Boston for a full day of fitness, yoga, nutrition, spa services and wellness.Sought after professionals brought to you for all of your wellness needs including:

  • Bootcamp
  • Yoga
  • Stretch & Breath Work
  • Nutrition
  • Spa Services
  • Wellness Services
  • Catered nutritious meals and snacks
  • Health & Wellness companies providing information and samples of their products!

But I had no idea just how awesome it would be. I mean, who wouldn’t want to go to that! (well, some people, but I am guessing most of my B2B readers would think it’s pretty amazing).

Anyway, I arrived at the hotel just around 9am, quickly realizing that I forgot my yoga mat (which they reminded us to bring in an email that I looked at earlier that morning). #epicfail. I did OK without one, but I did feel a little silly! After I checked in, I met up with Athena and Ashley. I was SO excited to get to hang out with two fitness enthused people like myself for the day, as well as many, many more people just like us!


athena, ashley, me

Photo Credit: Athena

 Shortly after everyone settled down, the two creators of the event, Kendall and Celeste, introduced themselves and gave us an overvue of the day.  By 9:20, we were already on our first workout of the day: 30 minutes of Boot Camp with Celeste!

026It was awesome! We did some really neat partner exercises such as partner sit-ups, “run the plank” and partner lat. pull downs, and I can’t wait to bring some of them into my classes! After boot camp, we broke out into smaller groups based on the color on our name tags.

029We were scheduled for 30 minutes of the following workouts:

  • Tai Chi with Julio
  • Barre with Tessa Hollyn Taub
  • Pilates with Daniel Cohen (a personal trainer at Sports Club LA)

Barre. Omgoodness. Let me tell you were my legs and core BURNING! I have done a couple of other Barre classes, but no one has ever made me hold a plie squat so darn low, with so many pulses. I was literally dripping. Tessa was AMAZING and I totally want to take private classes with her. I loved it! Tai Chi was pretty cool as well, since that was something that was totally new to me. I work at the Y with Julio, who lead us in Tai Chi and his knowledge and passion for this was wonderful.  We focused on a lot of breathing in Pilates, which couldn’t have come at a better time for me. As you have probably noticed, May has been a little rough for me thus far, so taking some time to really BREATHE was juuuust what I needed!



By the time I was through all of these classes, I was really quite thankful that lunch was next on the agenda. We ventured downstairs and couldn’t believe the meal we were served. I was expecting a buffet or something simple, but we were served a lovely salad and main meal (we called it the Wellness Wedding meal!).


Kendall also spoke about a few ways to “lighten up” for the summer. I am not sure I could cut out dairy all together, but it was interesting to hear the alternatives to dairy! I am always up for hearing about different food “lifestyles”, so I loved learning about all sorts of different new food ideas and recipes throughout the day.

032After lunch, we had time to mingle and browse through the vendors before attending the 6 different 20 minute sessions scheduled out for us. I loved this station by Eventbrite!

040Yum, yum yum! Athena and I had to pose for a pic!

britemix with athenaDuring this “break” before the afternoon sessions started, there was also a “photo booth” area run by Lucie Wicker Photography. Omg I LOVE these things!! Of course we had to jump in for some fun!



photo-booth-4So fun! After everyone had some time to mingle and check out all of the vendors, the afternoon sessions began. We had 20 minutes at each station, which felt a little rushed at times, but only because I was always so interested in every company that we were learning about! I started at the John Hancock table and learned about financial things (sorry for my lack of better terminology!)

037From there, I went to the Organization Table with Allison Webber, which I totally loved. She was amazing and super interactive and could really just read people very well. She said that 50% of her job is therapy and working with people to let go of their issues in order to de-clutter and organize.

I was so looking forward to my next stop: massages with Body Waves Massage. As you know, I work out A LOT and carry LOTS of heavy bags, so I am always in need of a massage. I stole this pic from Athena’s blog that she got from Celeste Pratt on Instagram and had to use it because that’s me getting a massage in the back right! She said I was really tight, especially my right quad, so I have been trying to foam roll more actively this week. #hurtssogood


My next sessions were acupuncture with Synergy Acupuncture and skin care and nutrition with MZ Skincare. I have never had acupuncture before so I was really excited about this! I told her I had shoulder issues and she did a little extra for me. I didn’t notice a huge change, but I wonder if going to acupuncture for full sessions would help alleviate my injuries?? The presentation by MZ Skincare was also really interesting in that they gave us good tips on choosing REAL sunscreens and how to clear up your skin from the inside out, meaning, learning about how to feed your body nutrients that help with your skin. Very interesting.

 Finally, I went to a CrossFit class for a WOD (workout of the day) with Sarah Loomis. Funny side note: Sarah worked for the BSC and taught UXF and actually subbed one of my classes! Small world, indeed! Here was our WOD:

038Good thing I am totally loving real burpees 😉 we skipped the 21 reps due to time, but did 15 reps of burpees and lunges, followed immediately by 9 reps of both. If that doesn’t get your heart rate up, I am not sure what will! I also loved the EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute) workout because it was a great way to push YOURSELF, which I am a fan of. The goal was to try to have MORE rest time every round… I can’t say I did, but I did move a lot faster from round 1 to round 2!

Lastly, our FINAL event of the day was a nice, closing yoga session with Kendall. Another funny side note, Kendall was auditioning at the BSC for yoga the same day that I was auditioning for kickboxing and TBC. I knew I recognized her!

kendall-teaching-yoga1From Celeste’s Instagram

After a very busy and physically active day, a nice, restorative yoga session was just what all of us needed. I haven’t been practicing yoga because of my shoulder injury, but it felt really great on Sunday!

Overall, I cannot fully express how wonderful the day was. Athena did a wonderful recap of the day, too, so check it out! As she said, it felt great to be in our “happy places” all day. Huge thanks to Kendall and Celeste for organizing such an incredible event and day! I can’t wait for the next one!

Questions for you: What’s your “happy place”? Ever been to a health and wellness retreat?

Weekending! Harpoon Fest, Sushi, Sonsie, Friends

Before I get to my post scheduled for today, I wanted to take a minute to say how much Oklahoma is on my mind. Seeing the images on the news that the tornadoes caused makes me speechless. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those who have been impacted by these tornadoes. Absolutely heartbreaking.


Hi there! How is everyone doing?! I had a super busy weekend, but it was really, really fun! My friend, JP, was in town for the weekend (he is my former coworker/BFF and is moving to Chicago at the end of the month), so it was fun to get to hang out with him, as well as some SMC ladies.


I was pretty busy with work on Friday, but I was able to make some Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Banana Bread during my lunch break. I don’t know where I got the recipe (definitely from a blog, but no idea which one), but mmm it came out so tasty!

001I talked to my college girlfriends and realized that it was Harpoon Fest, so some of us decided to go. Although it was a little chilly on Friday evening, it was still a fun night!

004 005 007


(Do you follow me on Instagram, yet?)


Saturday definitely would have been the better day, weather wise, but I’m still glad we were able to go! Around 9pm, we all decided we were all pretty chilly and decided to head out. We joined JP and some of his friends for another drink at Dillon’s.


Knowing that I had to teach kickboxing at 10am the next day, I kept myself in good control and even drank a plain club soda while at Dillon’s… shocking, I know! But well worth it. There are some classes I could teach while being tired and a little hung over, but kickboxing is certainly not one of those!


Kickboxing was a blast! There were not as many people as usual, but I blame that on the weather. Saturday was absolutely beautiful and had I not been teaching, I would have gone for a nice run outside!

When I got home from kickboxing, I worked in my garden a little bit. I had a few more things I wanted to plant and my dad was nice enough to give me 3 more bags of soil, so it felt good to knock that off of my “to-do” list, while still working on my tan 😉 And, the sun went in just as I was ready to eat lunch. Perfect timing! I sautéed some broccoli and summer squash and then added in an egg, scrambled it up, topped it with goat cheese and served it as a wrap. Easy, healthy, yummy.


Perfect fuel to clean the apartment, actually. Danielle was around to help, so we split up the different areas of the house to clean and got to work! By the time we were finished, I was exhausted, so you know what I ended up doing? NAPPING. If you know me, you know that I NEVER nap, so this was pretty crazy. I passed out for a solid 45 minutes and only woke up because I was drooling everywhere my sister told me it was time to shower. Luckily, I wasn’t groggy or anything, because that is the worst, and part of the reason why I don’t nap.

After we were ready, we headed to Joshua Tree in Somerville for a cocktail and snack before meeting up with my friend, Lauren, for sushi. Davis square was hoppin’! There was some sort of sidewalk/porch band festival thing, too, which seemed pretty cool. I love how the spring weather makes people venture out and about.  I got a Sangria, but it was awful so I didn’t finish it. Boo 😦



For dinner, we went to Fuji in Kendall Square since I had a Groupon that was just days from expiring.


While we perused the menu, we enjoyed some edamame and Sauvignon Blanc. $26 for the bottle. Ummm amazing.

019 020

I ordered a Spicy Tuna Roll, which was only OK. It seemed like it had tempura mixed in and I wasn’t a fan of that. Everything else was delicious, though, especially the company and free valet parking 🙂



After dinner, Danielle and I went to Sonsie to grab a drink with JP since it might be the last time that we see him before he moves to Chicago 😦 The city was very much alive and I loved it! Sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder of how wonderful it is to be able to live in Boston. I think I take it for granted far too often, so last night was nice to soak it all in.

All in all, it was a great weekend. I went out and had fun with friends, had some great adult bevvies, and was able to enjoy Boston. Sunday was the icing on the cake as I was totally in my element at the Wellness By The Water retreat. I’ll do a full post dedicated to my experience there later this week, but I’ll say that it was awesome.

Questions for you: What was the best part of your weekend? Did you go to Harpoon Fest? Did you go out dancing (mom, I know you did!)? Drink any fun, summer-ish cocktails?

Weekly Workouts

Holy Moly! Monday, already?! I had an incredibly busy weekend, but let me tell you was it fun! Before I get to recapping, let’s focus on workouts and getting back on track (even though I am almost positive that today will be a rest day since yesterday was an intense day of workouts!).

Last Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- I ran 4.63 miles after I finished work and then spent about 30 minutes doing all sorts of different strength and core work using a band. So fun!


  • Tuesday- Went to a boot camp class with my favorite instructor. If you think I am tough, you should go to one of her classes. Killer. I love it.


  • Wednesday- I was pretty sore, so I just did 10 minutes on the elliptical and then taught UXF and did most of the workout with them.


  • Thursday- Double time! I taught a stations workout in SHRED and then kickboxing.
  • Friday- Rest, besides a 30 minute walk around Somerville, ending at the liquor store to get some wine. Definitely not a coincidence, but it sure was great motivation!


  • Saturday- Taught Kickboxing at the Y, which included lots of burpees 😉


  • Sunday- Wellness by the Water Retreat, which included 30 minutes of Boot Camp, Tai Chi, Barre (OMG hardest Barre class I’ve been to) and Pilates and then also a CrossFit WOD (workout of the day) and yoga. Needless to say, it was a tiring, but FUN, day!


This Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- Likely a rest day besides my normal walking commute.
  • Tuesday- Maybe another rest day since I have a photo shoot after work!
  • Wednesday- I was invited to go to a Women’s Health event at Exhale, so I am doing a Core Fusion Cardio class in the morning and then teaching UXF after work.
  • Thursday- Double time! SHRED & Kickboxing
  • Friday- Maybe a Deck of Cards workout? Running? Circuits?
  • Saturday- Teaching Kicboxing at the YMCA
  • Sunday- I’ll be in Maine for Memorial Day weekend so I will probably get my mom to do something with me 🙂

You tell me! What was your hardest workout this past week? Most fun? Anything you’re proud of?