My AFAA Primary Group Certification Experience

***UPDATE - my certification came in the mail yesterday!  I passed. I was so nervous opening it but what a relief to find out I had passed.  So it just a little over 4 weeks waiting.***

I'm writing this for those of you who are starting on the journey for your Primary Group Cert.  When I first started looking into this last September there wasn't too many personal experiences out there for me to see what I'd be facing.

I signed up for one of their APEX weekends, which saves a significant amount of money.  If you can wait till of one of them, I think they are 2x's a year, then that's the way to go.  The one I registered for was at a college that is about 2-1/2 hours from me.  I'm grateful that I have a relative about 30 minutes from that college so I didn't have to drive down there that morning, I stayed the night with them and thankfully I was able to get a little extra sleep. I got there about 45 minutes early and it was a good thing because the thing that gives you your parking tickets had a huge line.  People were coming into the workshop late. I'll keep that in mind with the next workshop I attend.

Oh, let me back up a bit.  I received an email about 2 weeks after I signed up (I registered in December for February APEX) with links in it to a live study group.   Here's what the email calls it:

"Since you registered early, we are pleased to offer you an optional complimentary live online study group session as part of your registration."

But it was definitely more just an outline of the workshop with a Q&A at the end, the Q&A was the most informational part of it.
They told us to dress comfy, in layers, bring food & water, bring a chair if you want, bring a yoga mat if you want, pencils, your book and study guide.  We never touched the book or study guide.

The live study group actually goes over what's in the front of the study guide but in more detail, pages 5-8. The woman running the group also went through the study guide and told us how many questions would be on the test from each section.

Make sure you study, study, study. Make sure you know your muscle groups and and the joint actions each do. For example, the bicep is elbow flexion and latissimus dorsi is shoulder extension and shoulder adduction.  Study and know your vocabulary for the anatomical terms, anatomical planes, joint actions, muscle terms (e.x. agonist, assistors, etc) and muscle actions.  We used these terms a lot, all day!

Side note: Research on line for some other blogs and youtube videos. I found a few great ones. I got some great ideas that helped me study.
1. ADDuctor : adding something, bring together.  Your adductors bring your legs together.
2. ABDuctor: think of being abducted by aliens :), or away from.  these two tips really helped me. the instructor had some different suggestions but they weren't as memorable as these I found.
3. Gastrocnemius (glad I don't have to try to pronounce that for you all!) remember "Gas - Calf" that tips helped to finally get it to stick for me.
4.  Your muscle man.  Know him. Intimately!  He'll be about 20 questions on your test. Know every one of his muscles and the actions!   One of the tips I found was to copy him, block out the muscles and make little cards with the names on them, then line them up.  I did that and I also used an extra copy and filled in the muscles myself once I knew them and took notes on that one.


Back to the workshop.  After everyone was there and checked in, you start moving and you really don't stop till you go to take your test.

The instructor went over the muscle man and ever muscle action.  She'd have us repeat back all the ones she'd just covered.  It was a great review.  She also went over proper alignment and the cues that you should remember and teach the participants in your classes.

Next she started going over the different sections of the practical exam.  I'll be honest, I've been co-teaching a class for about 5 months and I was still terrified for this part. I was sure I'd forget everything about the muscle actions and exercises for them. After she finished all the review for the practical exam, I was so comfortable with the process, I knew I could do it with no problems.

I'm sure every instructor does the workshops differently but this is what she did:

  • Had us practice warm up moves. We only needed to know three and you just keep repeating them till she says stop.  Be prepared to move a lot, I mean a lot. She had us keep practicing till everyone looked like they knew what they were doing. 
  • Then we moved on to the cardio. We had 30 seconds to reach high intensity cardio. Unfortunately, it felt like 5 minutes of straight cardio during each practice of this. And we did this over and over like the warm up. 
  • Next we went through every muscle group. We had to know two exercises for each and a stretch. I was surprised at the exercises we weren't allowed to do that my class has been doing. She kept reminding us that it's for beginner participants so things like a deadlift weren't allowed.  She did show us every single exercise we could do and the stretches so if for some reason we weren't prepared, we were by the time she was done.  
  • After lunch we sat and reviewed the written test portion.  I won't say she spoon fed us the answers but she went over all the most important info we needed and we saw it all on the written test.  She took about 45 minutes and did a rapid review.
  • Then we took our tests.  
  • Individual presentation, which is at the end of the practical, was so easy. I was glad I wasn't first and I wasn't last either.  By the end I was exhausted.  We were all lined up in rows facing one direction for the practical and for the individual presentation, you go to the front and teach the entire group a strength or cardio move. It's not nearly as scary as it sounds or I thought it would be.  Just remember your cues, proper alignment, and to define each level you are doing. 
    • I did squats. (a good part of the group did squats. I did more squats and grapevines that day than I ever want to do again).  You introduce yourself, explain the muscle groups you'll be working, give alignment cues and start with level one.  Through the whole thing you keep talking and you move to the next level, without stopping between levels and make sure you let the class know they can go back to a previous level if the challenge is too great.  

So that's it.  I left knowing I'd made one stupid mistake in my practical, got exercises mixed up once, but overall I felt I really nailed it and was pretty comfortable with the multiple choice test too.

Now for a wait of 5+ weeks to find out if I passed. Good luck if you are journeying down this path also!


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