Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thinking About Group Ex Certification...

Photo Credit: ACE Fitness
Every once in a while, I think about getting ACE or AFAA certified so that I can teach other fitness formats and improve my Zumba teaching. Let me back up for a second. After college, I went straight to grad school, and a few years later I went back for a PhD. I just graduated in May and promised I would never go back to school and studying. No more teachers, no more books. But, this is kind of like, for fun - right? Different from regular studying? I guess I actually like learning. Thanks a lot, Mom and Dad. :)

So, I did a little research on the two certifications (there are others, but these are the biggies). Here are some interesting facts:

What the heck is the difference between the two?

According to ACE (so, this is their self-assessment):
"The ACE Group Exercise Leadership Specialty Certification is designed for instructors currently teaching modality-specific or pre-choreographed classes or personal trainers who are exploring a new direction in group fitness. The curriculum complements the education teachers receive in 1- or 2-day instructor training programs like Zumba fitness, Les Mills, Turbokick or indoor cycling.”

From other things I read, it seems that AFAA is better known to prepare people to create their own aerobics classes, whereas ACE's sweet spot is enhancing instructors' capacity to lead pre-choreographed or structured classes a la Zumba. AFAA focuses on: basic anatomy, nutrition, the fundamentals of designing group ex classes, injury prevention, and the business side of teaching.

Do you have to have a biology/physiology background?

No! But, it sounds like people who opt for AFAA certification tend to have more of a background in health and/or the science of fitness.

I know my stuff. Can I just take the test?

Mmm, notsofast.  They recommend studying for 1 – 3 months before taking the test. It looks like you would have to pay to take the test again if you don’t pass, so it’s probably worth hitting the books.

What does it cost?

ACE’s standard program is $299, but for $499 you can get the premium package with flashcards, etc. AFAA costs $299, but there is a recommended textbook for $69 not included.

Well, smarty pants, you did all this research… what do you think?

There are many times I wish I knew more about body mechanics to help my students.  I rely on my dance background for the basics, but I think a group fitness certification would be a big help. I think it’s a good choice for anyone who teaches a format like Zumba and doesn’t have a fitness or dance background.  But, I also think you could study up on the basics of anatomy, body mechanics, and exercise on your own for the low cost of $Free.99.  I would definitely recommend a certification for others who are serious about group ex and want to be able to maintain a gym job. It shows you have depth and that you can keep up with trends. It also validates your abilities to other instructors who may be more willing to call on you as a sub.

Who’s certified out there? Tell us what you think!


  1. If you take the AFAA exam in September or February, the cost is only $99 (plus the textbook). :) It's called the APEX event. :)

  2. I need to re-test. I tested in Feb of this year. I hate tests. Always have so that is why Im waiting a full year to do it again. I was totally stressed out the day I took it and rightfully so, since I failed. I took the AFAA previously but according to your research maybe I should do ACE. I have no desire to create my own class etc. I just want to teach Zumba.

  3. I took AFAA and believe it was a wise decision to be group cert. It has opened a lot of doors for me. Read the entire book and know your muscles. I also bought a workbk, a practice test and a DVD. All were helpful. I made my own flashcards and studied for a few months.