Are you a mega-fan of indoor cycling and looking to take your passion to the next level? Becoming an indoor cycling instructor might be the perfect opportunity for you. But where do you start? In this post, we've pulled together the key steps to becoming an indoor cycling instructor - getting your technical qualifications, mastering your style as a coach, and nabbing that first job.
Step 1: Technical Qualifications
To become an indoor cycling instructor, your baseline qualifications include instructor training and day-to-day ride programming abilities. Training may include a formal certification, in-house training at the studio or club you’d like to teach at - or a combination of the two. How do you find out? We highly recommend that if there’s a studio, gym, or other facility you’ve got your eye on teaching for – ask them!
Instructor Training Programs
When it comes to instructor certifications, you can obtain cycling-specific credentials such as:
Stages Cycling - If you’ve heard of SoulCycle, LA Fitness, Crunch, Equinox, Barry's, CYCLEBAR, LifeTime Fitness - Stages Cycling is the #1 bike powering rides at these brands and beyond. Their global educators offer certifications through Stages Cycling University.
Spinning® - Ever heard of the term “spin” or “spinning” used to refer to indoor cycling? Well, Spinning® invented it! With 35,000 Spinning® facilities worldwide, your target employer may require you to complete one of their three certifications.
Schwinn - Another frequently employer-required, popular, and reputable indoor cycling certification. You may have heard of the famous Schwinn bikes, originally invented in 1895. In 1965, Schwinn pioneered launching indoor exercise bikes with the Deluxe Exerciser.
ICG - Newer to the scene, but also popular and reputable amongst the indoor cycling community is the ICG Certification.
Are you looking for - or does your ideal employer require - a more general group fitness certification? If that’s the case, ACE, NASM, and AFAA are a few of the most frequently required providers of these types of credentials. And in case of emergencies, many facilities will require you to get a CPR-AED certification. With that said, an increasing number of boutique studios have their own in-house training programs to provide education customized around their brand.
After all is said and done with securing your necessary education, the day-to-day technical requirements of being an instructor will command your continued ability to design (or run pre-programmed) rides - safe and effective workouts, the accompanying playlists, and your checklist of to-do’s while running classes. Your initial training will cover many important guiding principles, and potentially even provide some starter ride templates to help you get started.
Ongoing, we highly recommend digitizing your process with an app like Struct Club, which will give you access to numerous, thoughtfully-crafted templates, build your own efficiently, swap ideas with fellow coaches, and run class with maximum professionality and presence with your riders (instead of racking your brain or crowded page of notes for what to do next). Together, we’ve worked with Struct Club to put together How to Design an Inspiring Ride.
And when it comes to inspiration…
Step 2: Build Your Leadership
While your technical qualifications are crucial, it’s your leadership, unique personality, and special energy you emit from the podium that any studio - and its riders - are looking for! Your training may get you in the door, but your leadership will carry you to above and beyond. When we ask our SHIMANO Ambassadors what matters to them on the leadership front, we’ve noticed the following necessary leadership questions you must answer through your coaching:
Who are you as a coach? Identifying and vocalizing your own unique perspective is key. In our Q&A with YouTuber and Indoor Cyclist Kaleigh Cohen, we uncovered ways in which her international perspective and personal values shape how she designs and runs her indoor cycling classes. For example:
“We are going to get stronger on our bikes now so that we can be stronger out in the world,” - this is just one of many powerful mantras Kaleigh motivates her riders with.
How will you guide riders? It’s one thing to possess technical knowledge, such as pedal stroke optimization or comfortable ride setup, but to choose the right words to frame information thoughtfully and memorably will help make you a next-level instructor.
“I utilize ‘SMART’ Goals which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely (goals),” says indoor cycling instructor Demar Jackson on setting inspirational goals that stick. This is a strong, crisp way to frame goals-setting guidance for your riders.
What motivates you? Ultimately, the source of inspiration starts with you. Are you motivated by the music? By numerical goals? Maybe both! In this podcast, renowned Global Master Educator Javier Santín shares about how to build an amazing class experience by first anchoring from emotions.
Are you fired up to teach? Get ready to nab your first gig.
Step 3: Find and Secure Your First Indoor Cycling Position!
Once you've cracked the technical training and leadership development you need, it's time to get that first job.
For some, you may already know where you want to teach. In fact, as a result of being the avid rider you are, you may already have key relationships with your potential future teammates. As is the case with numerous indoor cycling trainers - the place you want to start coaching is often the place that helped spark your passion for riding in the first place! Sound like you? Ask your studio about their hiring process.
For others who have their sights on even more possibilities, research your local indoor cycling studios and gyms to learn about teaching openings and audition dates. While multi-location facilities may have public job posts, many small local businesses may not.
Independently of where you’re applying, your application, interview[s], and audition should demonstrate your ability to connect the riding rules and style of the facility with the technical skills and unique leadership abilities you bring to the table. Hop in the saddle at places you are considering applying to. Learn about their culture, riding policies, and team. It doesn’t hurt to ask whether they’re willing to share some pointers either!
Last, but certainly not least - make your purpose and passion for the ride obvious at every step of the process. Authentic enthusiasm goes a long way! And if at first you don’t succeed, keep up the persistence. Practice makes perfect.
We wish you the best of luck on your coaching journey! To continue to boost your indoor cycling knowledge, our dozens of articles are designed to enhance your expertise.