During the last 25 years, we’ve certified over 110,000 professionals. To celebrate our 25th year in business, we’re selecting 25 grads to showcase this year. Meet our next featured grad, Amber Ludeman, an AFPA Certified Yoga Instructor, who launched her career as a yoga instructor with the help of AFPA.Tell us a little bit about your story. How did your interest and passion for health & wellness begin?
My passion began when I was in high school when I was 15. My school brought in a yoga instructor twice a week, and I loved her mix of workout, positivity, and esteem-building. I fell in love with the practice.
Why did you decide to pursue a certification in the health/nutrition field?
I had been practicing yoga with varying degrees of regularity for years, but I really fell back in love with it after having my second child. My family had moved to a rural town in Oklahoma, and I wasn’t sure there would be a lot offered. I found a little community of yogis and loved getting back to the mat as often as I could.
Was there some kind of life-changing event that directed you to start on the health and wellness path?
When a friend decided to open a studio in town, she asked if I’d ever considered getting certified to teach yoga. I had, but I thought that the only way was to take an intense, 200-hour, in-person course I’d always heard about. With my little kiddos, it just wasn’t going to be possible. Then she told me that I could actually get certified online, and I was instantly excited!
What made you particularly interested in the Yoga Instructor certification?
For me, yoga isn’t just a great workout. It’s a place to love and accept yourself, to get to know your body’s strengths and challenges, and also to feel at peace. I like attending other classes such as HIIT and Pilates, but I love motivating people and I’m not afraid to fall on my face. So, I knew yoga was going to be the one for me.
Honestly, I love just seeing the progress people make in my classes. One day, they’re looking at me as if I’m crazy for asking them to try a headstand, and six months later, they’re doing crows into headstands or extending their side crow pose.
Why did you choose AFPA as your certifying organization?
I chose AFPA because I heard it had a great reputation (some fellow instructors were certified through AFPA as well), and I also liked that the coursework and materials were flexible and affordable but still substantial.
What was the certification process like for you?
As soon as I received my books and videos, I dove right in. I was studying every night, learning about anatomy, and bringing a whole new level of appreciation and understanding to my practice. I hadn’t really understood that there was an art to sequencing a class, for example. I just knew, as a student, when it was good and when it was great. I would practice my vocal cues while I practiced in our living room. My toddler thought I was losing it.
What was your favorite part about the program? Why?
I wanted to get my certification completed in just six weeks. I was under a little bit of pressure, too, because it was around the holidays and a lot of the local yoga studios were canceling classes due to weather. I had to get those in-class hours finished, so I ended up traveling to other studios to get instruction. It was great to jump into new classes and experience more instructor styles!
Did anything surprise you about the certification or course materials?
I was impressed with the textbooks and just how dense they were. I still refer to them often when I’m thinking about a new flow sequence or trying new advanced poses.
Where were you in your health/fitness career prior to receiving your certification?
I’d never even considered having a career in fitness. Even when I thought about teaching yoga, I’d never really researched it. I was so glad to have the push from a friend.
What do you do now?
I teach Vinyasa Yoga 2-3 times a week at Tribe Fitness Studio, which is now located in Fusion Fitness.
How did receiving your certification change your career?
It started it!
How are you implementing what you’ve learned in your life/career?
There’s no limit to how I integrate yoga into my life. When I’m stressed or lacking focus, I can center myself through the breath and asanas (poses). I always encourage my students to do poses when they’re having a rough day—even if they have to be in tree pose at the office!
How did you use what you’ve learned to become self-employed and start/grow your own business?
I work at someone else’s studio right now, so I don’t plan on being self-employed with yoga.
Have you found that the specific accreditations have enabled you to be more credible or positively impacted your career?
I do plan to become an accredited prenatal yoga instructor. I think it’s so wonderful to stay active during pregnancy and to have the mobility and breathwork for labor, delivery, and beyond!
Is there a story or certain moment with a client that has stuck out in your memory as being impactful?
Honestly, I love just seeing the progress people make in my classes. One day, they’re looking at me as if I’m crazy for asking them to try a headstand, and six months later, they’re doing crows into headstands or extending their side crow pose. I try to make instruction as accessible as possible and encourage people never to get bogged down trying to look or act a certain way in class. It’s a totally personal practice, and you have to know your limits and when to push yourself.
What do you like best about working in this industry?
My favorite part of the industry is that there is a practice for everyone. I like a faster-paced flow with challenging transitions to a blend of hip-hop, 90s, alternative and pop music. Some people like relaxing Yin yoga with nature sounds. Other people need weights and balls to feel that burn.
What are your career goals going forward?
I want to get everyone I meet standing on their heads.
How has your experience been with the AFPA customer service team and education advisors?
I’ve had nothing but wonderful experiences with customer service. Whenever I had a question about the materials, the coursework, or the exam, they helped me quickly and efficiently!
How did this certification program impact your overall life?
It has impacted it tremendously! I am now known as the “scary yoga” teacher in town (because people get intimidated if they see we do advanced poses), and people who have taken my class will walk up to my friends or husband and say how much they love it. Once, my husband was working with a woman who cited my end-of-class saying, “comparison is the enemy of progress,” as her daily affirmation. That made my week!
What does a typical day look like for you now?
I teach in the evenings because I also work full time as a partner at a social marketing firm called Matchstick Social. I work from home, so I’m usually at my computer for 8-9 hours a day. When my family gets home, it’s time for play and dinner. My girls love to do yoga, so I’ll let them practice with me on my mat. (They really like doing handstands with my help.)
I arrive at the studio about 20 minutes early, do some stretching, think about sequencing, add to or edit my playlist and then get to work! My class is one hour with a 5-6 minute savasana at the end. I love it when people nearly fall asleep at the end. That means it was a great flow!
Do you have any advice for other people considering making the leap into a health, fitness, or nutrition career?
I would say to really take stock not just in what you’re passionate about and what you like doing but also what your community really needs. Be the one who fills that gap.
Do you have any advice for other people who are considering a certification and trying to decide which organization to get certified through?
I can’t speak to other organizations, but I can tell you that AFPA makes it easy to get certified online while maintaining your other life’s priorities. The flexibility and comprehensiveness of the program are really impressive.