AFAA Group Exercise Certification

I’ve been promising you guys a recap post about my Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) group exercise certification ever since I attended the workshop and took the test back in May. When the test is over, you have to wait four to six weeks to see if you passed, and earlier this week, I got the good news!

AFAA Group Exercise Certification

I feel like my experience with the AFAA group exercise certification was a lot less intense than my NASM personal training certification. When I started to flip through the group exercise text book, I realized that I already knew a lot of the information from previously studying for my NASM CPT. I didn’t give myself much time to prepare (two weeks?), but I felt like this was adequate since I already had a good knowledge base. If the information is completely new to you, I think you could finish reading the book and feel prepared to take the test within a month. 

Passing the written exam is only part of the AFAA group exercise certification process. I figured I would break the whole certification experience down for you guys since I know a bunch of you out there are hoping to obtain your certification in the future. Please let me know if you have any additional questions!

Written Exam

The written exam includes 100 multiple choice questions. I filled out the study guide ahead of time and felt prepared going into the exam. (Tip: Check out Quizlet online flashcards for help when you’re filling out the study guide.)

AFAA Study Guide

You are allotted one hour to complete the exam and I finished in about 35 minutes. To pass the written exam, you must get 80 percent of the questions correct. We took the written exam at the very end of the day once the practical exam was complete.

Practical Exam

I was initially rather nervous for the practical portion of the exam, but I can tell you right now that you really don’t need to be nervous! The instructor who taught our workshop walked us through everything and did a great job alleviating any nerves I felt going into the day.

The practical exam is broken up into three different segments, detailed below:

I. Group Cardio: We completed this portion as a group. Everyone is given a number to wear and must demonstrate a three-minute warm-up, five-minute higher-intensity portion and a one-minute cool down. Our instructor and another woman who came in to judge us watched everyone as a group as we went through the various portions of a cardio workout. We went over this segment as a class before we were tested on it, which made everyone feel more comfortable.

AFAA number

II. Group Strength/Flexibility: Once again, this portion is done as a group. Everyone was required to demonstrate two strength exercises and one flexibility exercise for 10 different muscle groups. Our instructor called out a muscle and then everyone performed an exercise that targeted that muscle until the instructor said to move on. We were tested on the following muscle groups:

  1. Pectorals
  2. Trapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi
  3. Deltoids
  4. Biceps, triceps
  5. Hip adductors, hip abductors
  6. Gluteus maximus
  7. Quadriceps, tibialis anterior
  8. Hamstrings, gastrocnemius, soleus
  9. Rectus abdominis, obliques
  10. Erector spinae

As I typed all of that out, it sounds a lot more difficult than it was in person! When I say that you need to demonstrate two strength exercises and one flexibility exercise per muscle group, you can do the same strength exercises for multiple muscle groups if you wish (assuming it targets multiple muscle groups) to help keep things simple. For example, you can do squats for the glutes, quads and hamstrings.You are not given any weights to use to demonstrate any of the exercise and simply perform them without any equipment.

III. Individual Presentation: This is the only portion of the practical exam that you demonstrate on your own and it was the part of the exam that I was the most nervous to complete on the day of the workshop. You are expected to properly to demonstrate three levels of a strength or flexibility exercise. (Our instructor also said you can demonstrate a cardio exercise for this portion, but she encouraged us to stick to strength or flexibility, which we all did.) It was the very last part of the practical exam and our instructor gave us plenty of time to practice on our own before it was time to perform in front of the group.

The demonstration should last one to two minutes. During this time, you’re expected to lead the group through three levels of a strength or flexibility exercise, progressing from beginner to intermediate to advanced.  I chose crunches and simply demonstrated a basic crunch, a crunch with my knees bent and my feet in the air and a crunch with my legs lifted straight up (bend in the knee removed). Squats and lunges were the two most popular exercises that participants in our class chose to demonstrate.

Our instructor told us to be sure to:

  • Speak loudly and clearly
  • Introduce yourself and make eye contact
  • Explain the exercise you are demonstrating and the muscles it is working
  • Give proper alignment cues
  • Note when the exercise progress to a more advanced level

Additional Questions

  • How much does it cost? $299, though you can get certified for only $99 two times a year during the APEX event.
  • Do you have to attend the workshop? You must pass the practical portion of the exam to get certified, though you can now do this online
  • What should I wear? Workout clothes that make you feel comfortable and gym shoes.
  • Why did you choose AFAA? It is a reputable certification and was highly recommended to me by the group exercise instructors at my gym.
  • Should I pack a lunch? I did, but our instructor gave us an hour break for lunch, so some people went out to eat. I’m not sure how this works for all workshops, so I packed a lunch to be safe. I would also pack snacks! It’s a long day and I was happy I packed snacks to eat during short breaks.

Afaa group exercise snacks

For more information, check out AFAA group exercise certification recaps on the following blogs:

I hope this post was helpful to those of you who are considering getting your group exercise certification through AFAA!


  1. PluvK says

    Congratulations on passing! This was a really interesting post to read. I’ve been toying with the idea of one day getting certified, so this was very helpful!!


  2. says

    Thanks so much for the tips! I’m taking the training this Saturday so posts like yours are so helpful. (I’ve been reading for about a year). I’m also a fitness instructor (Zumba and dance cardio), so I love hearing about your new job and different classes! – Karianne at


  3. says

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you
    relied on the video to make your point. You
    clearly know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you
    could be giving us something enlightening to read?


  4. says

    This is very helpful! Thank you for posting this! I am not currently a group fitness instructor but am interested in becoming a spin instructor. Would you recommend I take the AFAA Group Exercise Certification before I start teaching? I noticed all of the bloggers that mentioned taking this certification were already teaching other classes. I know AFAA offers an indoor cycling class, so I’m wondering if I should take that and start teaching before I get my group exercise cert. Any advice? Thanks!


    • Danielle Sarah Storch says

      Thank you for giving me a head’s up. I’ve been working on this on and off for over a year, and Aug. 16th, I’m scheduled to go in to take my class and exam. I too am nervous, but you have helped me alot. Did you have to memorize all of those flash cards or just be familiar enough to answer multiple choice questions?

      Thanks a ton!

      D Sarah


  5. Porschea Bethea-Kirby says

    Hello there! I’m studying for my AFAA Group Exercise Cert as we speak and I wanted to know – did you actually read all the pages suggested by the Study Guide? Or did you more so fill out the questions and study from that? Reading is what’s taking the longest time for me so i’m just wondering if filling out and studying the guide questions could work also? Thanks for taking the time to read this and for writing this helpful post!
    – Porschea


  6. JC says

    Hello. Just found your blog after searching AFAA reviews. You mentioned about their Group EX being less intense than your PT. My experience is that any Group EX will be less intense.

    I’ve held about 5 Group EX certs and one PT. The PT would naturally be because generally, one is dealing with a client one on one and you have to know more about the muscle groups, more anatomy, etc. whereas (in terms of Group Ex classes), most members (esp with aerobics) only care about your moves, choreography and good music. 🙂



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