Obtaining certification as a group fitness instructor opens the doors to a rewarding career that allows you to remain active and help people reach their health and fitness goals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job prospects for fitness workers are expected to increase faster than the average for all professions from 2016 to 2026. This means that you can look forward to many job options in the years to come should you choose to pursue a group fitness instructor certification with one of several national fitness organizations.
American Fitness Professionals and Associates
The American Fitness Professionals and Associations, or AFPA, offers a group fitness instructor certificate that you can earn by completing an exam online. The AFPA certification requires that you demonstrate a good understanding of how to evaluate people's health and fitness, teach safe and effective exercises and facilitate an engaging fitness class, among other topics. Once you purchase the course, you have six months to study and take the exam. As of publication, the course materials and exam registration cost $449.
National Exercise Trainers Association
The National Exercise Trainers Association, or NETA, has offered fitness certification since 1977. NETA's group exercise certification program helps you learn to facilitate exercise classes and covers anatomy, kinesiology, physiology and nutrition; cuing, choreography, communication and music skills; and components of physical activity and fitness.
NETA group fitness certifications are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, or NCCA, which sets standards for quality for professional certification programs.
There are three options for receiving certification:
- Self-study plus a one-day live workshop and proctored exam
- Self-study plus a computer-based exam at a monitored testing facility
- Self-study plus a live webinar and computer-based exam at a testing facility
As of publication, the fees for the different options ranged from $239 to $299. Exam study materials are not included in the price.
American Council on Exercise
The American Council on Exercise, or ACE, offers group fitness instructor certification to people who can demonstrate that they can construct safe and engaging exercise classes based on their knowledge of human anatomy, kinesiology and instructional techniques. ACE certifications are NCCA-accredited and widely recognized nationwide.
The ACE group fitness instructor certification is a self-study program. After purchasing the exam and study materials, you have six months to take the computer-based exam at a monitored testing center in your area.
As of publication, ACE offers three options ranging in price from $249 to $349. The higher priced option includes a digital resource package, unlimited dynamic practice tests and comprehensive access to ACE study coaches.
National Association for Fitness Certification
The National Association for Fitness Certification, or NAFC, offers group fitness certifications that focus on group weight training and aerobics. The self-study program covers topics including anatomy and biomechanics, components of total fitness exercise programming, components of a well-rounded group fitness class, safety, proper exercise instruction and designing and cuing engaging fitness classes.
NAFC is accredited by the National Board of Fitness Examiners, or NBFE, a non-profit agency that sets standards for qualifying fitness professionals.
The NAFC certification exam includes a theory portion and a virtual practical portion. You must pass both portions of the exam with a score of 80 percent or higher. At the time of publication, NAFC offers four different purchasing options ranging from $99 to $549. The least expensive option includes only the exam without study materials. The more expensive options include study materials, an optional virtual workshop and even a job guarantee.