Friday, March 6, 2015

Certification, at last!

This year, after finally getting my black-belt, I wanted to do a little more for the students in my class. We had already introduced some cardio into classes, but it was largely unstructured, and based on circuit type training.

So I talked to some of my instructor friends, and they recommended I attend a AFAA group exercise instructor certification session. These are the certifications the majority of the instructors in our work-site wellness program hold, and I figured it would be ok.

I found the program to be very affordable, and instructive. The certification program "is designed to equip those seeking to become certified as group exercise instructors with the competencies needed to design safe and effective group exercise programming for the general healthy population." 

What does it involve?

Here's a brief overview of what is covered in the workshop (and really, you should study these before you go, you don't want to try to learn them at the review): 

  • Basic Anatomy, Kinesiology, Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology
  • Nutrition and Weight Management
  • Group Exercise Program Design
  • Essentials of Teaching (Basic Exercise Standards & Guidelines, Motivation, Choreography, Cueing, etc.)
  • Exercise- selection, technique, alignment and performance with or without equipment
  • Injury Prevention, Emergency Response and Special Populations
  • Other Modalities (Aqua Fitness, Indoor Cycling, Dance Fitness, Step, etc.)
  • Business Skills and Legal Responsibilities (Substitute teaching, Law and Exercise)
In addition to a written exam, there is also a practical portion of the workshop, where you demonstrate that you've got a good grasp of  things like: how to work specific muscle groups, how to stretch specific muscle groups, as well as grading of the design and delivery of a cardio workout, and a individual grading session on presenting an exercise with modifications included.

Now, depending on your prior education/experience, the AFAA recommends no less than 1-3 months of dedicated pre-study before attending the workshop. Although my anatomy was pretty rusty, I decided to risk it on two solid nights of reading through the manuals. As I had to be CPR/AED certified before the test, I also had to get my certification for that as well. But in the end, after a full day of review and testing, I received my certification about a month later. 

What is the benefit of getting group exercise training for teaching martial arts?

This has been a great boon for my teaching, as I now have a better understanding of what muscle groups we need to stretch before and after specific exercises and drills. Additionally, I have a better idea of how to structure the class, and where to put in breaks for both children and adults. On the business side, I can also teach and include cardio/yoga classes on the off hours at the dojo--which brings in additional income. And since I can have my own insurance, I am covered whether I am training someone how to punch a real person, or punch the air in a cardio kickboxing routine. Overall, it's a good investment. If you are on the fence about getting certification, I would recommend trying it out, classes range from $99 to $299, depending on time and location. 

Got questions? Hit me up, I'm happy to tell you about my personal experience.