Happy Monday! I hope everyone is staying healthy, safe, and somewhat busy during these difficult times. I’m finally catching up on schoolwork and housework, and getting back into a relatively normal routine, so hopefully I can keep this up!
This week I wanted to go in yet another direction, avoiding talk of travel for now and touching on another fitness aspect of my life – my job. Over the past year and a half, I’ve trained to become a spin instructor, gotten my certification, and begun teaching classes. Unfortunately I am unable to teach at the moment due to lots of gyms and studios closing, and this is not a format which can easily be transferred to online classes, so for now I’m just hanging tight and prepping for future classes, whenever those might be.
This is definitely not the most traditional career path, but it’s something I’ve developed a strong passion for and hope to continue for as long as I’m able. I get a lot of questions about what the job entails, what it’s like being an instructor rather than a participant, and how others can get involved – so I want to address these here for those interested, and also share some things I’ve learned which I didn’t know before teaching myself.
Why I Started Instructing
I had only been to a handful of indoor cycling classes before starting college, most of which were mandatory team workouts for my swim team. So, this was never something I sought out on my own, or something I thought much of other than a workout moms did in their free time. When I got to college, I found that my school’s fitness center offered a number of group fitness classes for students for free, ranging from yoga to barre to kickboxing to, you guessed it, spin. I still wasn’t comfortable taking a class on my own, so I signed up myself a long with a few friends to try out a spin class one night. This was the best decision I ever made.
After that first class, I completely fell in love with spinning to the point where I would take 4-5 classes each week just for fun. Not only was it a great workout, but the atmosphere of a dark room with loud music filled with 29 other students doing the same workout as me, made the 45 minutes go by without even feeling like a workout – it was honestly just fun to be there. What really kept me going back, though, were the instructors. I found a couple whose classes I couldn’t stay away from, to the point where I would only go to their classes, but I would go to all of their classes, each week (and instructors typically teach 3-4 times/week).
By the time I was a sophomore, I found myself still regularly attending spin classes, but also doing 45 minute cycling workouts on my own. I would line up 10-15 songs, hop on a bike, and go through the motions of a regular spin class in my head, thinking through the cues I would be given if I were being instructed. It soon occurred to me that I liked a certain style of cycling and instructing – to the point where I was instructing myself – and I was already going to classes nearly every day, so why shouldn’t I teach them? This is where my journey to becoming an instructor began.
Becoming a group fitness instructor of any format is not easy. Becoming a spin instructor was even more difficult, I would argue, because there’s really no way to practice or train with proper equipment without access to a bike or a studio. Fortunately, Boston College has a group fitness prep course, along with a mentor program, which I was able to take during my sophomore spring semester. This course taught me how to actually teach a room of 30+ diverse participants, how to write not only a workout but a playlist to go with it, and how to assess any potential medical concerns and instruct accordingly.
This prep course had both a classroom and an in-class portion, as I mentioned with the mentor program. I chose my mentor because she was really the only instructor whose classes I was taking at that point, simply because I loved the structure of her workouts and the energy she brought every day. For about 10 weeks, I shadowed and eventually helped teach her class once a week. By the end of the semester, I was ready for my final audition, which consisted of me writing and teaching an entire class on my own, and being evaluated by BC’s group fitness coordinators (and I passed!).
Alongside BC’s prep course, I also had to be certified from an outside company. I took an online certification course from Spinning™ throughout the spring semester, so by the time I auditioned and was hired by Boston College, I was also a certified instructor. As you can see, this was not a quick or easy process, but I learned so much valuable information that I never thought would be necessary to lead a group fitness class, yet I’ve found crucial not only in my classes but in my personal life today.
How I Teach My Classes
Before BC suspended it’s group fitness classes due to the current situation, I was teaching three scheduled classes each week, and subbing here and there for other instructors when I could (so usually ~4 classes/week). There’s a lot that goes into each class, including the workout sequence, the choreography of each set, the playlist, and the cues. I make a new sequence and playlist for each class I teach (unless I’m teaching multiple in one day), since I usually see the same set of participants, and as a rider I appreciate a variety in instruction and music.
I can spend anywhere from 10 minutes to two or three days working on a playlist, depending on how quickly I need it done and how motivated I get for the class. I love looking for new music and building playlists to hype up my mood, so my Spotify spin collection has gotten very lengthy over the months.
As far as my actual classes go, there’s nothing I hate more than riding to a different beat than the music. I find it so much easier to keep pace when your speed matches the music, even at faster speeds – so, 95% of my class is on-beat. This makes building a playlist slightly more difficult, but it’s always worth it. I tend to stick to the same general outline of climbs, sprints, jumps, etc., but I’ll play around with the order and occasionally try out new sets. I teach my classes in the format I like to take classes, so I enjoy doing this multiple times each week and I attract participants with similar riding styles.
All in all, I love my job as a spin instructor and I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to start back up again in the (somewhat) near future. I’m definitely going a bit crazy not being able to ride at home, but I know this break will only energize me more once I come back!
This week’s post was definitely on the longer side, but I figured with all of our new free time that more content is always better, and there’s a lot about group fitness instruction that people don’t know! I could talk about this job for hours, so if people have any questions or want another post like this, please let me know and I would be happy to share more. For now, I’m going to keep working on my playlists and find some exciting new music so we come back strong 🙂
As always, I hope everyone is staying inside and staying safe, and I look forward to sharing more health, fitness, and hopefully travel content soon. Have a great week, and I’ll see you all next Monday!