How to Become an Indoor Cycling Specialist

If you’ve ever been in a gym, you have seen a spin class. Maybe you are already a spin enthusiast and are interested in becoming an instructor. Personal training in general is a great career to enter right now. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that fitness careers are growing at a rapid rate of 13 percent.

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Spin classes as we know them date back to the late 1980s. This fast-based, calorie-blasting type of indoor cycling really took off, and its popularity has not waned. Far from a fad, indoor cycling workouts are here to stay, which means you can make a solid, stable career out of leading them. Getting into this career takes little training and education, so you can start working and earning fast.

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What is Indoor Cycling and Spin?

Indoor cycling is a broad term that includes any kind of stationary cycling workout. The invention of the stationary bike meant that riding could move indoors where weather and conditions were no longer an issue. While cycling for a workout was long done individually, the development of cycling and spin classes brought this simple but effective workout into a whole new world.

Spin and spinning are actually registered brand names, but they are often used to describe any group cycling fitness workout. These sessions are led by a trained and qualified instructor who leads a group through a warm up, a workout with varying intensity and a cool down. Some of the many reasons gym-goers choose these classes include:

  • It’s an excellent cardiovascular workout that improves fitness and health
  • Spinning burns calories efficiently
  • It provides an aerobic workout without impact on the joints
  • Cycling is available in nearly all gyms
  • The sessions are fun and can be done with friends
  • It builds muscle
  • The classes are scalable with the potential to be challenging
  • High-tech bikes can measure and store fitness data

Spin classes usually last between 30 and 60 minutes. The instructor takes the class through an imaginary course, up and down hills and through varying terrains and intensities. Classes are tailored to the clients’ fitness levels and needs.

What Does a Spin and Indoor Cycling Instructor Do?

An indoor cycling instructor is the leader of these classes. Their primary role is to design and lead the class and motivate and encourage clients as they cycle. It may look easy and natural watching an experienced cycling instructor, but a lot of preparation goes into running an effective and safe class.

Instructors may be given pre-designed courses, depending on where they work, but many create their own. Even those given canned classes have to learn them well enough to lead a group. Developing spin classes requires taking into account client ability levels, any limitations or health problems, goals and preferences. The design of a class also has to be interesting, often set to music, and fast-paced and fun.

In addition to designing and leading classes, spin instructors set up the bikes. They know how the bikes work and how to adjust them and ensure clients use them safely. They use client metrics, like heart rate, to monitor progress and change up classes on the fly if necessary. They are also skilled in motivating clients to make it through a tough workout. They are outgoing and fun and like to help people.

Start with a Personal Trainer Program

To become a spin or cycling instructor, you do not need to be a personal trainer and you do not need to be certified. This is because there are no laws that regulate the fitness education and training industry. However, it is strongly recommended that before becoming any type of fitness professional you complete an education program and earn a certification.

Even if you have a strong background in fitness and are very knowledgeable, completing a personal trainer program will lead to certification. Having a credential to show employers and clients is important. Many gyms and clients choose only to work with certified instructors.

The best place to start is with a program for becoming a personal trainer. These educational programs are mostly completed online and take just eight to ten weeks to finish. They will provide you with the foundational knowledge needed to train clients effectively and safely. Look for an accredited program, like one of these most widely recognized personal trainer schools:

  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
  • American Council on Exercise (ACE)
  • International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

Get Certified as a Personal Trainer

An education is the first part of becoming a certified personal trainer. Each of the above programs offers a certification exam. Earning this credential is the proof you can use to show prospective clients and employers that you have the training needed to do the job.

The requirements may vary, but most certifications require that you complete the course, register for the exam, and take and pass the exam within six months or a year. Some also require that you have certification for CPR and AED.

Earn Spin Instructor Certification

You can skip the step of becoming a certified personal trainer and go right to spin instructor certification. But your career options will be much more limited. With a personal trainer certification as well as spin certification, you will be qualified to train clients individually, teach other types of classes and lead spin and indoor cycling classes.

Several organizations offer spin or cycling certification. An accredited program is always the best option, but some non-accredited choices still have value and may be less expensive. Look for other factors to ensure you are getting a good training program: instructor qualifications, a final exam for certification and a minimum number of training hours.

These are some of the most respected programs offering spin or cycling instruction and certification:

  • Spinning. This is the brand name, originator of the spin class. It is a part of the Mad Dogg Athletics company and was founded by the creators of spin bikes and classes. Spinning offers Spinning Instructor Certification, the first step in becoming a spin instructor. Select the online or live option. After achieving the first level of certification, you may choose to complete more advanced programs. These include Spinpower Instructor and Rockstar Spinning. The Bridge program can be used to transfer certification from another program into official Spinning certification.
  • Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). The AFAA offers an indoor cycling certification program that focuses on goal setting, high-energy routines and music, accountability coaching and safe, proven results for participants. You can complete the entire course online.
  • National Council for Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT). The NCCPT is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. The Certified Indoor Cycling Instructor Course was developed by a champion road racing cyclist. It includes training in setting up bikes, pedaling techniques, safety considerations, and both one-on-one and group course development.
  • FiTOUR. FiTOUR offers a Primary Indoor Cycling Certification with an online program. It covers cycle set up and maintenance, safety issues, biomechanics, warming up and cooling down, developing classes and using drills, injury prevention, and heart rate monitoring for keeping track of client progress.

The above programs may count for continuing education credits for your personal trainer certification. Most certifications require that you renew every two years and keep learning by earning these credits. Check that a cycling program counts toward your renewal before selecting it.

Consider Getting a Group Fitness Certification

Another type of credential you may want to earn as a cycling instructor is group fitness certification. Most of the reputable and accredited personal trainer schools offer courses in group fitness. This will allow you to expand your offerings as a trainer, to include cycling classes as well as all other types of fitness classes.

Finding Your First Job as an Indoor Cycling Specialist

While other types of personal training are easy to do outside of a gym or on a freelance basis, cycling is best suited to employment. Most gyms have cycling areas and offer classes to their clientele. Spin classes are always in demand, so it shouldn’t be hard to find a job in a large or smaller gym, a cycling studio, a resort or health and wellness center, a community center or with a company that houses a gym and trainers for corporate wellness programs.

Becoming a certified spin instructor or an indoor cycling specialist is a great way to break into the exciting fitness industry. Start out with personal trainer certification so that you will have more job opportunities. Then, learn to become a spin instructor and get certified. With these two credentials, you should find it easy to land a job. In fact, you’ll be in demand.