I’m now a certified group fitness instructor

I went ahead and earned my certification to teach exercise in a group setting, just like you’d expect of any author.

I enrolled in the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America’s group exercise instructor certification class as a back-up plan before I was hired as the editor of a community newspaper. Since I had paid for the course and had started studying, I figured I might as well see it through.

My passing score and AFAA certificate arrived in the mail the other weekend, proving I’m certifiable.

I have no idea when I’ll ever make use of it. My day job doesn’t lend itself to part-time moonlighting, and I’ve already been neglecting the marketing of my books. But it sure feels nice to have.

This really came about following my stint as a martial arts instructor last year—something else you naturally assume every author and editor has on his resume.

I taught kickboxing to adults and children at a school I attended for several years prior. I also assisted classes and served as a sort of crash-test dummy for some children’s jiu jitsu lessons. Getting thrown around and pinned to the floor is always a grand time.

It’s not the most politically correct job: “Hey, kids, this is how you punch someone…”

That gig began as an unpaid internship, which was fair enough to start. I had only just earned my black belt in Muay Thai kickboxing, and while I had done some tutoring, I had no experience teaching martial arts or any kind of physical education.

So the school got some extra help, and I got to add something new to my list of life experiences.

The problem came 150 or so internship hours later. I was at the point where I was very comfortable leading the adult classes, and I was starting to get the hang of leading the kids’ classes. I had demonstrated my work ethic. I was coming up with some of my own lesson plans. I was entrusted to work closely with paying students.

And then I was told, “You’re doing great so far. Just keep it up, and when you become so amazing that we can’t afford to lose you, then we’ll be able to start paying you.”

Yeah, that didn’t really fly with me.

I requested either a very low probationary rate of pay or clear terms on precisely what I needed to do to get on the payroll. They weren’t willing to do either, so I stopped teaching.

As an appeasement measure, they offered me free classes for life. I took it. Had to get something for my time and trouble, after all. But I’m lucky if I’m able to get there once a week these days. (Alas, poor cardio, I never knew you well enough. I miss being sore.)

So I signed up for the AFAA class, figuring afterward I could apply to the YMCA or American Family Fitness and teach kickboxing or similar classes there—and actually receive compensation for working with paying students. What a concept.

The moral of the story: People will let you work for free for as long as you’ll tolerate it.

But the best revenge is becoming certifiable.