Steps to Getting AFAA Certified, Post #2

This is the second post in a series discussing the AFAA Primary Group Certification.  In this post, we’ll examine steps to take before the Workshop, including registration, studying, getting your CPR and checking in. 

<<Read the previous post.

How much time do I need to prepare before the workshop?

This will depend on your experience level.  AFAA states that the Primary Group Certification is for “for group exercise instructors whose training and educational background has prepared them to take the AFAA Primary Group Exercise Certification exam.”  They also state that “this course is a review of AFAA’s Basic Exercise Standards and Guidelines, anatomy, exercise science, exercise evaluation and exam criteria.”  You will be tested on your knowledge of muscles, joint actions, energy systems, exercise safety, among other things.  If you don’t know where your tensor fascia latte is, or if you didn’t know that the join action of a chest press is horizontal shoulder adduction, then you want to allow yourself more time.  The first time I took the exam, I got the book two months in advance and studied a couple of hours per chapter, reading a chapter a week.  I felt prepared for the exam.  My friend registered later, got the book 10 days before the exam, read half of the book before the exam, and was prepared.   Be honest about your experience and knowledge and give yourself as much time as you can to read the book before hand.


You can register for the certification on AFAA’s website. They have a handy tool for searching for workshops in your area.  Select a workshop that is near you to attend and plan on taking the whole day for the wokrshop.  They start at 9 and are supposed to end at 6, but ours got finished at 7 pm.  The registration process is fairly easy and as soon as you are signed up, they mail you your study guide, the textbook and your invoice.  Make sure you read the description of your certification to be sure that the textbook is included in your Primary Study Package.  For APEX, because of the huge discount, the textbook is an additional cost.  I didn’t purchase it, but I believe the cost is $40 or so.  Take a look so you can order it if you need it. 

Get a current CPR certification

You can take the workshop without being CPR certified, but they will not issue your certificate without having it on hand.  Find a CPR course through the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.  Many cities have businesses who give emergency training courses, and the gyms or hospitals in your area may also be able to help you find a workshop.  AFAA will not accept online CPR courses.

Check In

You registered, got your CPR card, and read your textbook.  It is time to head on over for the workshop.  If it is at all possible to arrive early for check-in, I highly recommend it.  We couldn’t get there but ten minutes early (did I mention how lost we were?) and the line was ridiculous.  Of course, it was APEX, which tends to have high turnout, but still…  Get there early and come prepared.  They give you a list of what to bring with you in your study guide, but just in case….  Bring comfortable clothing, a clean fitness outfit for your practical, number 2 pencils, your study guide, snacks, water, lunch, and your CPR card.

We’ll talk about what happens during the day of the workshop in the next post.

Read the next post. >>


11 thoughts on “Steps to Getting AFAA Certified, Post #2

  1. Krista, please, please, please, keep updating your blog (“Getting AFAA Certified”)! You’re doing an excellent job and I’m learning a ton! I’m taking the Primary Cert in February through AFAA/APEX and I already feel so much more at ease after reading your blog. Meg

  2. Thanks for your interest, Meg. I am working on the final post in the AFAA preparation series. I have had to take some time off from updating the blog (you might have noticed) but I will make it a priority to at least complete that segment by the end of the week. I appreciate your comment and thank you for reading!!


  3. Your posts about getting AFAA certified were so great. I read through them a few days before my certification seminar/test and they were spot on. I knew exactly what to expect and there were absolutely no surprises. I just got my results today and I passed both the written and practical exams. Thanks for the tips and advice. Your website is such a valuable resource.


    • Congratulations!! Thanks for coming back and letting us know how you did. I’m so glad you did well and hope you’ll visit us often!

  4. Hi everyone! Yes, this is an excellent blog source for the AFAA certification process. I too have recently passed both practical and written exams. Before going to the exam, I stumbled across this website and immediately lost all anxiety. Everything that was said to occur did happen. I was very well prepared and the process went smoothly with no surprises. Thanks for all the help. Now to find out who’s hiring lol!

    • Breathe and focus. Don’t try to do more than is possible. Just focus on retaining what you can, then put your best foot forward. Good luck!

  5. I haven’t been able to find any other tests to practice on other than the one that came with the study materials, where did you find an online test, TD?

  6. besides the required book ($69), do you guys recommend the DVD ($20), Practice test ($20), reference manual ($39) &/or the deluxe study package ($129). thanks for your help!!

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