How to Become a Group Fitness Instructor II – Get Group Fitness Certified

April 28th, 2009

Step II: Get Group Fitness Certified

As we now know, the first thing to do if you want to become a group fitness instructor is get CPR/AED certified. I was able to complete the course in a 5-hour class with a Red Cross-approved training company for $65.

The next step in becoming a group fitness instructor is to become group fitness certified. There are two major organizations that certify group fitness instructors and personal trainers – ACE (American Council on Exercise) and AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America).

If you have a particular gym or studio you’d like to work at or a favorite group fitness instructor, ask which certification the gym, studio, or instructor recommends. Some gyms require all group fitness instructors to also be certified personal trainers.

My Zumba instructor recommended getting both AFAA and ACE certified. ACE is more widely recognized and more difficult to get so I chose to get ACE certified first.

ACE’s Group Fitness Instructor Certification process involves studying the ACE Group Fitness Instructor Manual and Master the Manual Study Guide to pass the ACE Group Fitness Instructor Certification Exam. I ordered the Basic Group Fitness Instructor Home Study Program for $139.95 + $18 s&h. You can also order these materials individually through ACE or Amazon.

The ACE Group Fitness Certification Exam can be computer-based or pencil-and-paper, although the CBT is offered much more often than the traditional method test. There is a $259 charge to take the CBT exam.

AFAA offers a Group Exercise certification. The AFAA certification process involves a full-day workshop including written and practical exams. The cost of the study guides, workshop, and exam is $299.

Don’t be shy! Let your gym, studio, and instructors know you’re pursing the instructor certification – they could give you advice and it could get you a job when you complete your certification.

More to come on this topic! See also, How to Become a Group Fitness Instructor I – Get CPR/AED Certified.

How Many Calories are in a Cup of Coffee?

April 25th, 2009

Have you ever noticed there is no nutritional information on coffee packaging? How many calories are in a cup of coffee? Here’s a list of the nutritional information of the brands of coffee I keep at home:

Dunkin Donuts (20 oz.)
10 Calories
0 Fat Calories
15mg Sodium
0g Fat
2g Carbohydrates
1g Protein
0g Dietary Fiber

Caribou Coffee (Large)
5 Calories
0 Fat Calories
10mg Sodium
0g Fat
0g Carbohydrates
1g Protein
0g Dietary Fiber

I could not find nutritional info for Foldgers coffee, but according to the Foldgers website:

Our coffees are 100% pure coffee. Since coffee has no nutritional value, there’s no significant amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates, fat, sodium, or potassium. In fact, one serving of brewed coffee contains less than 5 calories.

I take coffee black so the information above does not include milk or sugar. Roast (light, medium, dark) and preparation method does not seem to affect nutrition. What does affect coffee nutritional information is what you add to your coffee – like milk, cream, sugar, sweeteners, syrups, whip cream, etc.

If you are looking for a way to cut calories and fat, quit adding unnecessary calories and fat to your coffee!

Easy as pie… Right? Not for me. My FAVORITE coffee drink is Caribou Coffee’s Mint Condition.

Caribou Coffee Mint Condition (Medium w/2% Milk & Whip Cream)
460 Calories
160 Fat Calories
145mg Sodium
17g Fat
68g Carbohydrates
13g Protein
0g Dietary Fiber

Wow. That is an eye opener compared to regular black coffee, which I also enjoy. It will be hard, but I will save money, calories, and fat if I drink black coffee more often and drink a Mint Condition less often as a treat or reward. *sigh*

FREE Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

April 24th, 2009

I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person, but today, I feel very foolish.

Today, I filled out the free FAFSA application at to apply for federal student aid so that I can take some classes this summer.

But first, I paid $79.99 for a third-party service to file my free federal student aid application for me.

I typed “FAFSA” into Google and clicked on, the top result and a Sponsored Link.

I completed the form and was surprised when my credit card number was required to submit my application. I had to pay $79.99 to apply for student loans? I thought it was strange, but I haven’t applied for student loans in almost 10 years. In the end, I decided it must be legit. I put in my credit card number and hit submit.

That’s when I knew I had just paid $79.99 to Student Financial Aid Services Inc. to file my FAFSA form for me. I was using a third-party service NOT affiliated with the Department of Education.

I blame no one but myself. FAFSA stands for FREE Application for Federal Student Aid. I paid to file an application with FREE right in the name! The statement “We are not affiliated with the Dept. of Education” on the fake FAFSA site actually links to the REAL FAFSA site:

Please don’t be a fool like me and pay to fill out your FAFSA.

Beware this fake FAFSA site.

Date of Birth Rejects, Errors, and Correction Procedure

April 24th, 2009

For the past two years, I have used Turbo Tax to file my federal and state tax returns. Both years, my tax e-file was rejected due to

Error 0522: The date of birth you entered on this return does not match what the IRS has in its files for you. The IRS receives this information from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

I knew my name, date of birth, and Social Security number were listed correctly on my returns, so I knew this was a mistake. I followed the Age/Name/SSN Rejects, Errors, Correction Procedures on the IRS website.

Question: I filed electronically but my tax return was rejected. What do I do now?


* Your next action depends on the reason your return was rejected.
* You should receive an explanation of why the return was rejected.
* If a mistake was made when entering a social security number, omitting a form or a name is misspelled, the errors can be corrected and the return can be sent again to the IRS.
* There are other errors that will cause you to have to file using a paper return.
* If you have further questions, you can call our Customer Service number at 800-829-1040.
* For general information about e-file, refer to Electronic Services.

I tried unsuccessfully to contact IRS Customer Service at 800-829-1040. I tried calling approximately once a week from May 2008 to November 2008 and never spoke to a real person. I only heard a recorded message that said, “We are too busy to take your call. Please try again on the next business day.”

My tax return e-file rejection was annoying, but I printed and mailed my tax returns via USPS. Life went on as usual…

Until today, I completed the FAFSA to apply for financial aid to continue my education. When I tried to submit my FAFSA, my electronic signature was rejected because FAFSA could not find a match for my personal information with the Social Security Administration (SSA).

I called the FAFSA help line at 800-433-3243. The nice woman assured me that my personal information was correct and that my FAFSA PIN was working, but a match for me could not be found with the Social Security Administration (SSA). She suggested I call the SSA at 800-772-1213.

The SSA phone system is very annoying, but after several minutes of repeating myself to a robot, I was able to speak to an agent. With a heavy foreign accent, he asked for my personal information and he told me the birth date I had given him and the birth date on record were not the same. In fact, the birth date they had on record appeared to be the same date my parents applied for a Social Security number for me…

The nice man told me to correct a date of birth on SSA records, fill out the SS5 SSA form.

While researching this article, I also realized using Turbo Tax to troubleshoot the problem instead of the IRS would have helped me correct my date of birth much sooner:

Verifying the taxpayer’s date of birth

Do the following:
1. Open your return in TurboTax Desktop or log in to TurboTax Online.
2. Select the Personal Info tab, and then select About You.
3. Press the Continue button to navigate to the Enter Your Personal Information screen.
4. Verify the taxpayer’s date of birth, name, and social security number.
* If this information is incorrect, update it, save your return, and then re-file. You will not be charged again to re-file the same return electronically.
* If this information is correct, call the Social Security Administration (SSA) at (800) 772-1213 and verify the information that they have on file.
* If the SSA has incorrect information, then submit a request to have the information changed. This process generally takes 4 to 6 weeks.

I am surprised this problem has not caused more trouble in the past, but I am happy I finally know how to correct the problem. Maybe next year I can e-file my taxes!

How to Choose an Internet Dating Site Part I –

April 22nd, 2009

In my single days, I tried online dating. I spent a lot of time and money trying out all the different sites. This series of posts is a summary of my experiences & opinions of the internet dating sites I used. It is intended to help anyone thinking about trying online dating or looking for a different dating site.
By far, my worst dates came from and in my opinion, Match is the worst dating site out there. This probably stems from the fact that it is the easiest and fastest site to sign up for, and also the most inexpensive.

The ability to search primarily based on physical criteria on Match is a bad thing. You put in what physical features you want your matches to have, view pictures (subscribers only), and read what he or she has to say about him or herself. Easy enough, right? Wrong. In my experience, users lie about EVERYTHING – their ages, heights, weights, marital statuses, number of children, you name it.

You must communicate through Match because the site blacks out email addresses people incorporate into their profile text to communicate with users without paying to use the site… Tell me this: Why would you want to connect with someone who isn’t even serious enough to pay the minimum $35 for one month to meet someone special?

The worst feature of is free trial weekends. While free trials might be good for beginners or people unsure if they want to subscribe, but free trails are bad for everyone else using the site. This is when the cheapskate creeps come out and activate the accounts they haven’t used for months to quickly contact as many people as possible for free. No thank you!

On the dark side, I know of a man who has been on Match for at least five years. Now that Match has the “find someone special in 6 months or get 6 months free” guarantee, my friend claims he “will be on Match until he gets married.”

On the bright side, I personally know two couples that met on Match and both couples recently married. They all have horror stories about some of the dates they had and people they met through Match, but things worked out for them and they seem very happy.

In conclusion, when it comes to, you get what you pay for.

Best Movie Soundtracks

April 20th, 2009

Last week, American Idol had Quentin Tarantino as a guest and the contestants performed songs featured in movie soundtracks. I could not believe the garbage the contestants picked out of all the wonderful movie soundtracks that exist.

Here are my top ten best movie soundtracks arranged by movie release date:

Urban Cowboy (1980)
1. Hello Texas – Jimmy Buffett
2. All Night Long – Joe Walsh
3. Times Like These – Dan Fogelberg
4. Nine Tonight – Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
5. Stand by Me – Mickey Gilley
6. Cherokee Fiddle – Johnny Lee
7. Could I Have This Dance – Anne Murray
8. Lyin’ Eyes – Eagles
9. Lookin’ for Love – Johnny Lee
10. Don’t It Make Ya Wanna Dance – Bonnie Raitt
11. Devil Went Down to Georgia – The Charlie Daniels Band
12. Here Comes the Hurt Again – Mickey Gilley
13. Orange Blossom Special – Gilley’s Urban Cowboy Band
14. Love the World Away – Kenny Rogers
15. Falling in Love for the Night – The Charlie Daniels Band
16. Darlin’ – Bonnie Raitt
17. Look What You’ve Done to Me – Boz Scaggs
18. Hearts Against the Wind – Linda Ronstadt

Valley Girl (1983)
1. Million Miles Away – The Pilmsouls
2. Johnny, Are You Queer? – Josie Cotton
3. Eyes of a Stranger – Payola
4. Angst in My Pants – Sparks
5. Who Can It Be Now? – Men at Work
6. Everywhere at Once – The Plimsouls
7. I La La La Love You – Pat Travers
8. He Could Be the One – Josie Cotton
9. Love My Way – The Psychedelic Furs
10. Jukebox (Don’t Put Another Dime) – The Flirts
11. Fanatic – Felony
12. She Talks in Stereo – Figures, Gary Myrick & The Figures
13. Oldest Story in the World – The Plimsouls
14. School Is In – Josie Cotton
15. I Melt with You – Modern English

Pretty in Pink (1986)
1. If You Leave – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
2. Left of Center – Suzanne Vega
3. Get to Know Ya – Jesse Johnson
4. Do Wot You Do – INXS
5. Pretty in Pink – The Psychedelic Furs
6. Shellshock – New Order
7. Round, Round – Belouis Some
8. Wouldn’t It Be Good – Danny Hutton Hitters
9. Bring on the Dancing Horses – Echo & the Bunnymen
10. Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want – The Smiths

Batman (1989)
1. Future – Prince
2. Electric Chair – Prince
3. Arms of Orion – Sheena Easton, Prince
4. Partyman – Prince
5. Vicki Waiting – Prince
6. Trust – Prince
7. Lemon Crush – Prince
8. Scandalous – John L. Nelson, Prince
9. Batdance – Prince

Pure Country (1992)
1. Heartland – George Strait
2. Baby Your Baby – George Strait
3. I Cross My Heart – George Strait
4. When Did You Stop Loving Me – George Strait
5. She Lays It All On The Line – George Strait
6. Overnight Male – George Strait
7. Last In Love – George Strait
8. Thoughts Of A Fool – George Strait
9. The King Of Broken Hearts – George Strait
10. Where The Sidewalk Ends – George Strait
11. Heartland – George Strait

True Romance (1993)
1. You’re So Cool – Hans Zimmer
2. Graceland – Charlie Sexton
3. In Dreams – John Waite
4. Wounded Bird – Charles & Eddie
5. I Want Your Body – Nymphomania
6. Stars At Dawn – Hans Zimmer
7. I Need A Heart To Come Home To – Shelby Lynne
8. Viens Mallika Sous Le Dome – Howard Blake
9. (Love Is) The Tender Trap – Robert Palmer
10. Outshined – Soundgarden
11. Amid The Chaos Of The Day – Hans Zimmer
12. Two Hearts – Chris Isaak

Clay Pigeons (1998)
1. Timebomb – Old 97’s
2. Another Perfect Catastrophe – Firewater
3. Moon over Montana – Jimmy Wakely
4. Everybody’s Talkin’ – Tonic
5. Sea of Heartbreak – Don Gibson
6. 1229 Sheffield – The Verve Pipe
7. Almost New – Sara Evans
8. Teach Me About Love – Lyle Lovett
9. Let Your Love Flow – Sister Hazel
10. Stop the Clock – Tonio K.
11. Moody River – Pat Boone
12. Clay Pigeons (The Ballad of Lester Long) – Collapsis

Sliding Doors (1998)
1. Have Fun, Go Mad – Blair
2. Drug Soup – Space Monkeys
3. Turn Back Time – Aqua
4. Good Enough – Dodgy
5. Thank You – Dido
6. Use the Force – Jamiroquai
7. Miracle – Olive
8. On My Own – Peach Union
9. Amateur – Aimee Mann
10. Honky Cat – Elton John
11. Don’t Feel Like Cryin’ – Abra Moore
12. Call Me a Fool – Those Magnificent Men
13. More Love – The Brand New Heavies

50 First Dates (2004)
1. Hold Me Now – Wayne Wonder (original by The Thompson Twins)
2. Love Song – 311 (original by The Cure)
3. Lips Like Sugar – Seal featuring Mikey Dread (original by Echo and the Bunnymen)
4. Your Love (L.O.V.E. Reggae Mix) – Wyclef Jean featuring Eve (original by The Outfield)
5. Drive – Ziggy Marley (original by The Cars)
6. True – Will.I.Am & Fergie (original by Spandau Ballet)
7. Slave To Love – Elan Atias featuring Gwen Stefani (original by Roxy Music)
8. Every Breath You Take – UB40 (original by Sting and The Police)
9. Ghost In You – Mark McGrath (original by Psychedelic Furs)
10. Friday, I’m In Love – Dryden Mitchell (original by The Cure)
11. Breakfast In Bed – Nicole Kea (original by UB40)
12. I Melt With You – Jason Mraz (original by Modern English)
13. Forgetful Lucy – Adam Sandler

Marie Antoinette (2006)
1. Hong Kong Garden – Siouxsie And The Banshees
2. Aphrodisiac – Bow Wow Wow
3. What Ever Happened – The Strokes
4. Pulling Our Weight – The Radio Department
5. Ceremony – New Order
6. Natural’s Not In It – Gang Of Four
7. I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow
8. Kings Of The Wild Frontier – Adam & The Ants
9. Concerto In G – Roger Neill
10. The Melody Of A Fallen Tree – Windsor For The Derby
11. I Don’t Like It Like This – The Radio Department
12. Plainsong – The Cure

Sticky Shoes During Zumba

April 20th, 2009

The most common “complaint” I hear about Zumba is about gym shoes that stick to the floor during class.

Most gym shoes are built for traction. During volleyball, I often wipe the dust off the bottom of my shoes for a better grip. Too much traction in Zumba is not necessarily a good thing…

To some, it is just annoying – you are dancing and moving, but your shoes are sticking to the floor.

To others, it’s painful – you are dancing and your shoes are sticking to the floor and your feet are sliding around inside your shoes. Either way, sticky shoes could cause you to develop blisters and other foot or ankle injuries.

I have three suggestions to prevent sticky shoe syndrome at Zumba class:

1. Pick up your feet. It might not be how you would normally dance and not what you prefer, but if your shoes or feet won’t slide and you are sticking to the floor, pick up your feet to prevent injury.

2. Wear last year’s tennis shoes. Don’t wear your newest pair of gym shoes – wear an older pair. The grips will be worn down slightly and may help you slide across the floor better during Zumba class. I often wear a pair of Nike Shox I’ve owned for about four years to Zumba class.

3. Buy dance shoes.
I often wear my Capezio dance shoes from dance team in college. You can buy directly from Capezio or any major shoe manufacturer like Nike. Major shoe stores like Zappos carry athletic dance shoes. Go for an athletic-style dance sneaker to give you the support you need – if you are thinking about your shoes and feet during Zumba class, you won’t be able to concentrate on your workout!

Also see my “Best Zumba Shoes” and “Good Dance Shoes for Zumba” and “Where to Buy Dance Shoes” posts.

Cheerleader Emoticon

April 18th, 2009

Don’t ask me why I need these things…

@   @

How to Become a Group Fitness Instructor I – Get CPR/AED Certified

April 17th, 2009

Step I: Get CPR/AED Certified

The first thing to do if you want to become a group fitness instructor is get CPR/AED certified. CPR stands for CardioPulmonary Resuscitation. AED stands for Automatic External Defibrillator.

I found a CPR/AED certification class by visiting the American Red Cross webpage for my area, the Twin Cities. The class cost $65. It was held in a private home by a Red Cross-approved private training company for 5 hours on a Saturday.

The first 4 hours were CPR training. We watched video segments and the instructor embellished on the content. We practiced CPR on the Resusci Anne mannequins and took a short, multiple-choice written exam to be Red Cross CPR certified.

The last hour was AED training. Again, we watched video segments and we practiced using simulation AED equipment on the Resusci Anne teaching mannequins. There was another short, multiple-choice written exam to be Red Cross AED certified.

Zumba: Great Workout, Silly Name

April 16th, 2009

I recently canceled my Snap Fitness 24-7 gym membership to join an independent gym called Fitness Crossroads. For $10/month more, the independent gym provides showers, lockers, towel service, and best of all – group fitness classes!

Being a dancer, I have always loved group fitness classes. I’ve often thought I was born too late and missed my true calling of being a aerobics instructor in the 1980’s. In fact, when asked my dream job, I often respond “aerobics instructor slash dog walker.” (Watch Eric Prydz’s Call On Me Video here. If you haven’t seen it before, it’s racy and nsfw.)

I had been away from the group fitness scene for a few years while I lived in Europe and while I held mini-gym memberships here in the States. After I joined my new gym in March, I soon saw an announcement that they were adding two “Zumba” classes to the group fitness schedule. Zumba? It sounded silly, but I decided to Google it.

The Zumba workout is based on latin rhythms and dance moves. It is like going out to a nightclub dancing, but with the freedom of not caring how you look and getting sweaty in the comfort of your own gym!

I loved Zumba from the very first minute. I was a member of the pom pon squad in high school and the dance team in college. Each song in Zumba is a mini dance routine, much like danceline. The instructor breaks down the moves first and then brings the moves up to speed. The moves are intuitive and easy-to-follow. The main goal is to keep moving.

One thing I especially love about Zumba is that each class participant can increase or decrease intensity according to their comfort level, which makes it suitable for all ages and fitness levels. In fact, many of the participants in my daytime class are 65 and over! I love to see the older men and women smiling, laughing, and dancing up a storm! Zumba Gold was designed specifically for older adults. I hope I am still dancing at age 70!

I highly recommend looking for Zumba classes at your local gym or community center, regardless of the silly name. It is so much fun, it’s like working out without working out! I love Zumba so much, and Zumba is so much fun to me, I am becoming a certified group fitness instructor through ACE (American Council on Exercise) in order to become a certified Zumba instructor.

Ditch the workout, join the party!