Before I did my group exercise certification I tried googling the ones available here in Alberta. Most of what I found was directly from the certification websites, but I was looking for more personal experience – what did people like? What didn't they like? Are they glad they took the certification that they did? Because I had some a hard time finding that information I thought I'd share my thoughts on the AFLCA group exercise certification.
In case you're not familiar with the way AFLCA certification works, I'll give you a brief rundown. Most places in Alberta will require a group fitness certification before they'll allow you to teach. There's also a few different certifications you can go with, but I chose AFLCA. There's three AFLCA courses you need to take, along with two exams and a practical assessment. Everyone who gets AFLCA certified (whether it's group fitness, resistance training, or personal training) has to take the exercise theory course (click here for my thoughts on it). It's a full weekend (Friday night, and all day Saturday and Sunday) where you learn the basics. There's then a test that you have to take.
As for the group fitness part of it, I took the group fundamentals course at Mount Royal University here in Calgary with Lana. I had done my exercise theory course with her as well, so I knew that I was in for two days of absorbing as much information as I could. She's been teaching group exercise for a long time, so it was great that she was willing to share tips that she's learned along the way. Having that practical knowledge makes all the difference sometimes.
While we did spend some time in the classroom, for the most part we were in the group fitness room actually doing stuff. We practiced keeping time with the music (it's harder than it looks!) and figured out when we should be cuing participants to move on to the next move. Once I figured out the counting it definitely helped and I was able to stick with the music for the most part. We even practiced leading the group. It was pretty scary getting up there in front of everyone, but once I did it I felt so much better. It wasn't a big terrifying thing anymore.
Once you take the group fundamentals course you then have to take a designation course. I decided on portable equipment, but there's several others to pick from as well (everything from cycle to choreography to mind/body). I once again took it at Mount Royal, but this time with Brenda. Just like Lana, Brenda has been teaching group exercise for years. (I actually took one of her ViPR classes back in September.) She was more than willing to share tips from her experience. Although we were in a classroom for a bit, most of the time was spent in the group fitness room trying out equipment (new to us equipment, as well as learning new ways to use it). I really appreciated being able to do things instead of just talking about it. We also had to come up with an outline for a class as well as teach 2 exercises to the rest of the group. It was the first time I'd ever put on the microphone that's in that room, so it was a bit intimidating, but the nerves leading up to it were the worst part. Actually doing it wasn't so bad.
As far as testing for the group fitness component, there's a paper test as well as a practical test. For the practical part you have to lead the tester through a class that you've planned out. While I haven't done the tests yet, I'm planning on taking them in August when I'm done school. I just don't have enough time while I'm in classes to prepare for other tests.
If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments and I'll answer them.
Do you teach group fitness? What was your certification like?