Be a participant first and carefully study what you like and/or dislike about particular classes. Primary certification is basically just a license to learn more. In order to maintain it, credits must be earned and submitted. AFAA, ACE, ACSM, SCW, and Les Mills all offer credible certifications. CPR certification is a must as is continued study in choreography and trends. EVERY fitness career path is non-traditional. No two stories are the same and that is part of what makes the industry so cool and edgy. We are very different people united by a common goal and interest. I started teaching at 16 in exchange for practice space for my cheerleading squad....now I have a degree in human performance, a dozen certifications, and a full time career writing and editing fitness educational material.