Some of you may remember me posting at the beginning of the Summer about my decision to get certified as a Primary Group Fitness Instructor through AFAA so that I can teach cardio dance classes (mostly to kids--my great passion in life). This is crazy for a woman with fibro and inflammatory arthritis and three young children, correct? Yeah, I agree. But I did it anyway. Because I really, really love to dance. And teaching cardio dance requires that dang certification. So I sent away for the materials, and waited for them to show up. Then I spent an excruciating month on the couch, the bed, the floor, wherever I could sit/lay/etc., studying, writing down notes, highlighting, making flashcards, and basically learning about things like the cardiac system (stroke volume), the muscle system, (tibialis anterior is the muscle to the right of your shin, bicep is the muscle that performs elbow flexion), kinisiology (saggital plane), the energy system (phosphagen is an anaerobic fuel source), nutrition (the six basic nutrients to life are carbohydrates, fat, protein, water, vitamins, and minerals). This was all to prepare for the 100 question written test that was part of the day long AFAA Certification exam. There were countless days of this when I wanted to give up. The sitting and studying and writing made my arms, neck, shoulder and back burn and ache and throb SO BAD! I would cry to my husband when he got home from work and say "Why am I doing this? I can't do this?" And he would calmly reassure me that I could, even just a little at a time, I could." And he encouraged me to remember why I wanted to do it. After the studying part, I was ready to move on to preparing for the practical exam. I had to prepare an 8 minute sample aerobics class. For that I was lucky enough to have the mother of one of my son's classmates offer to spend a couple of hours helping me put one together. She's ACE certified and has been teaching aerobics for 10 years. She was able to give me some great ideas. I was able to modify her work, and then just practice and practice and practice it until I felt very comfortable with it. I would go to my gym early before any classes started when I knew the "big room" would be empty, so that I could practice in front of the mirrors (since they grade you on form and alignment). Next I had to know 10 different muscle groups. They call them out and you have to show two strength training exercises for each muscle group and then one stretch for that muscle group. This is the preparation part that really and truly almost brought me down. I started out by trying to add a cardio strength training class to my gym rotation. Big mistake. Both times class was lots of fun, and I felt fantastic for about an hour or two afterwards, and then CRASH and BURN. I had a flare that lasted a week. It happened the second time too. OWIE!! Well, I know nothing about muscles and strength training, so how was I supposed to learn this on my own?? So I had to check books out from the library and put together my own strength training program. Unfortunately, even doing that, with the lightest weights our gym offers (2 lb handweights) would leave me in so much pain I'd flare for 2-3 days afterwards without fail). I hate strength training. I did see a noticeable change in my body from adding it in (like another full pants size in addition to the two other pants sizes I lost this summer), but I don't think I can just "do it anyway" and ignore this kind of pain now that I'm done taking the test. No way. The third part of the "practical portion" of the exam is a personal presentation to the group where you demonstrate/teach a move of your choice with a beginner intermediate, and advanced level of difficulty. This portion they grade you on voice projection, enthusiasm, eye contact, safety cues, cueing, giving the purpose of the exercise, muscles worked, interaction with students/class--basically they are grading your teaching ability. So today I went and took my AFAA Primary Group Fitness Instructor Exam. There were 98 other people there today to take the test from a total of three states! Wow. It lasted from 9 in the morning until 6:30 at night. It was a workshop and a test, and was taught in a basketball court, so I literally spent the entire day either sitting on the floor, or standing doing aerobics or strength moves. It was like a day-long workout. When I left today I was so shaky and trembly. Right now I'm up in the middle of the night typing this. I'm afraid I'm going to flare big time from spending the day on the hard floor, and doing hours of strength moves, etc. Anyway, I think I did pretty good on the exam. There were a couple of areas in the strength training portion of the exam where I wasn't sure if my form was correct when the proctor was actually walking around near me. But, I think I did well on everything else. So now I have to wait 6-8 weeks to get my results by mail. Wish me luck! I went through a LOT of pain to reach this goal. There were many, many long summer afternoons where I would lay on my bed and cry because I was ready to give up. But somehow I could just never bring myself to do it. I didn't want my kids to see me quit (they are all school age). I didn't want my husband to be disappointed in me. I didn't want mySELF to be disappointed in me (I've still got a lot of lifetime left, I felt like this was a pretty good gauge of how I was going to spend it, quitting, or succeeding, you know?) Anyway, just wanted to share this very, very long story for those of you who may remember me and wonder what's become of me. I've just been very busy. But now I'll have more time because I'm done, baby, done!!