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March 14, 2011, 03:55PM PT in Exam Preparation Blog  |  8 Comments

Group Fitness Instructor - It's not all about you!

Group Fitness CertificationReally, it’s about your participants. When you review the Group Fitness Instructor Exam Content Outline you’ll notice that the two largest categories are Group Instructional Methods (37%) and Group Leadership (29%).

But if you think about it, that makes sense. Group Fitness is about leading a group of individuals through an exercise routine.  Yes, I know, that’s the most basic explanation, but it emphasizes the two main concepts of leadership and instruction. Just like with preparing for the personal trainer exam. GFI candidates will find that the background information like anatomy, nutrition, kinesiology and all that are important but the practical application of knowledge is just as important.

As you are studying, remember that the ACE GFI exam is intended to lay the foundation of your GFI knowledge. It focuses on the fundamentals – how to select music, how to cue, how to introduce levels of intensity to an exercise – rather than on the specifics of any given modality (step, yoga, cardio boxing).

Group Instructional Methods (Domain 2) is basically ‘how do you tell your participants what to do?’ If you look at the exam content outline you will notice words such as lead, motivate, educate, observe, and provide feedback. These are all things you do during class. This is not the pre-planning of your routine or music choice. Instead, it is figuring out how to work around different learning styles and level of skill, how to help participants with appropriate goal setting, and how to instruct participants on changing the intensity level of their exercise to best suit them.  Your instruction – what you tell your participants to do – should help them to achieve their individual health and fitness goals.

Along with being able to direct your participants in what to do, you also have to get them to do it! This is where we talk about Group Leadership, Domain 3. If you review your Exam Content Outline you will see words like lead classes, safe and effective, identify hazards, foster a comfortable environment, and create a positive experience.

Part of your job as the group fitness instructor is to provide a great class experience. This is more than just playing upbeat music and having awesome choreography. As the leader of the class you are in charge of the environment. You are responsible for making sure the room is safe for your participants – appropriate temperature and noise levels for example. Safety also involves offering exercise modifications for participants who need different intensity or lever arm adjustments (sounds like what we just talked about in group instruction!)

So how are you supposed to make sure participants have a positive experience? Make it about them. Look at issues of adherence and motivation and ways to build rapport and enhance communication. Are there ways you can build community in your classes? Are you making yourself available to participants who have questions?

These are things that sometimes take a little work before you are comfortable in that one to one interaction. You can study adherence and motivation but do you know how to apply them to a group of exercise participants? This is the practical aspect of your group fitness certification exam.

As you study for your Group Fitness Instructor certification exam you have a lot of material to cover. Rather than just reading through each chapter and hoping it sticks, look for ways you can apply the knowledge. Ask yourself, does this information help me design a class? Does this information help me teach a class? Does this information help me lead a class? Working with your class participants is the biggest part of the GFI certification exam and covers a wide variety of topics. If you have questions as you are studying, just give us a call at 1-888-825-3636 x782.

One last question…Do you know the difference between a participant centered teachings or an instructor centered teaching? If not…check your manual!

By April Merritt
April Merritt holds a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, a master’s degree in Health Promotion, and several ACE certifications including Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach.

April Merritt holds a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, a master’s degree in Health Promotion, and several ACE certifications including Personal Trainer and Health Coach.