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What to Know Before Becoming an Indoor Cycling Instructor

indoor cycling instructor

Exactly eight years ago I became a certified indoor cycling instructor, which has changed my life enormously. I went from being a back-of-the-class shy girl to a front-and-center leader making amazing friends and helping people get healthy, which is a total privilege. (Sometimes my classes are the best part of my day!) But, like any profession, being an indoor cycling instructor has its drawbacks.

So, if you think you might want to become an indoor cycling instructor, too, get your cycling shoes clipped in and your Spotify playlist ready, and read on for the five things you should know before you take the plunge!

5 Things to Know Before Becoming an Indoor Cycling Instructor

1. Your certification is important but can work against you. There are several companies and organizations that have a Spin/indoor cycling certification, including Mad Dogg, Schwinn and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) that can cost hundreds of dollars and, depending on where you live and what kind of gym/studio you are applying to, they are not all looked upon as equally desirable. You will want to scope out the local scene to see what gyms in your area are looking for before you commit to a program. Also, all of them require follow-up classes for continuing education, so that is even more time and money you will have to lay out in the future.

2. Be prepared to spend money before you make money. After getting your teaching certification, you will then pay for your CPR/First Aid course, which is required by law. (Some gyms will cover this expense, so always ask first.) Also, you can’t count on the gym to have microphones for you, so that is another couple of hundred bucks you might need to begin your new career. You’ll also need music and a music player to take with you and — once again — this is a personal cost. (Your iTunes expenses will climb dramatically as you will need to create playlists and find new music to keep your classes happy with you!)

3. The starting pay kind of stinks. Most gyms and studios will pay you by the hour versus how many students you teach. Depending on where you live, I have heard salaries start at $10 to $20 per class. So if you think you are going to make a living at this, wrap your mind around trying to teach up to 20 classes per week to pay those bills. (My calves are screaming at me just typing that sentence!)

4. People are very interesting. Most folks you will meet in class will be wonderful. By nature they will be friendly, outgoing and upbeat. However, on occasion you are going to have to deal with difficult personalities, such as control freaks who want to micromanage how you do your job or people who “hog” the fan in the room for themselves (true problem I had to manage between adults this past weekend). The thing is, you are going to be in charge for the hour, so you need to learn how to deal with many types of people and make sure they all get what they need for a successful class. Banish any illusions of putting on groovy music and just tuning out the world for an hour — this is work!

5. Hammies so tight you could play drums with them. Cycling is a repetitive exercise where you are mostly in a seated position, so you will need to learn how to lengthen tight hamstrings. When those puppies are not being dealt with properly it can lead to back and knee pain, which is no fun for anyone. Learn to keep ahead of any injuries by finding the time for preventive care every day. Stretch and foam roll like a fool to keep them in check!

Are you an indoor cycling instructor? What did I miss from this list? I want to hear from you! —Margo

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  1. Great tips, Margo! I’m currently working on my Group Fitness Instructor certification with ACE…so insider info on things like this is super helpful!

  2. Patrica Afuah says:

    Great tips! I’m a group ex instructor and recently took the Keiser training. If an individual wants to teach at a gym, there’ll be a music player and head phones available. Some gyms require instructors use their brand of music (ex PowerMusic) or provide your own.

  3. Adriene says:

    Those are great- I would recommend speaking to studio owners & gyms before you get certified. I became certified in February but all the gyms had done their hiring prior to the New Year’s Rush, so I didn’t actually get my own class until September Ugh!
    Sub as much as you can! Other instructors will appreciate it & will think of you when a position opens

  4. Adam says:

    Great article. I wanted to get more into spinning, so looked into the Peloton. It was too expensive, but found this article that shows how to make your own Peloton on a budget.

  5. Chris says:

    Spotify is also a great music resource where instructors pay a monthly rate for unlimited music. Speaking of music, plan on spending a LOT of time (especially when you first start) creating playlists and ride profiles for your classes. Get to know some helpful indoor cycling blogs and websites where other instructors share their ideas!

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