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The Cheapest Way to Become a Spin Instructor

The Cheapest Way to Become a Spin Instructor

Did you know typically you need to PAY to become a spin instructor?! Oof. That’s not always the case, though. I’ve been a fitness and spin instructor for 10+ years, certified by ACE Fitness and Schwinn Indoor Cycling, and I’ve made it my personal mission to figure out how you can become a spin instructor for the cheapest cost possible. Let’s get your butt on that podium and keep that cash in your pocket. 

Table of Contents

What Certifications Do You Need to Teach Spin? The Checklist

Here’s what you’ll need to become a spin instructor: 

  • CPR and AED certification 
  • A group fitness certification (ACE Fitness, AFAA, and NASM are the three primary options) 
  • A Spinning, indoor cycle, or spin certification (They all mean the same thing. Schwinn, AFAA, Spinning, and ISSA tend to be the most popular.) 

Step 1: Pick the Gyms or Studios Where You Want to Teach a Spin Class

The requirements for spin instructors vary slightly from gym to studio. If you have all the money in the world, then skip this part. However, you’re likely here because you want to save $$, so let’s dissect these slight variations to make sure you get the right certification for your needs. 

As you pick the locations that you want to teach at, here are some of the questions you should be asking yourself–and then the hiring manager. 

What Group Fitness Certifications Are Required? 

Typically, gyms or studios will want to see that you have a Group Fitness Certification from ACE Fitness or AFAA. But, that’s not always the case, so check the job description. If you’re already certified, don’t let the job description stop you. Reach out to the group fitness director to see if they’d accept the certifications you hold. 

Are You Required to Have a Spin Instructor Certification? 

Generally, you will be required to have a spin instructor certification from either Spinning, Schwinn, AFAA, or ISSA. Other studios have their own proprietary spin training in house, and don’t require additional spin certifications. 

Do I Need These Certifications In Advance? 

Another key question to ask. Sometimes instructors will require only one of these certifications prior to your audition, with the expectation that you can get the other after. Worth asking if it means you can delay paying for another certification until you’re officially on the schedule. 

Some studios and gyms will even help cover some of the costs to get certified, giving you even more reason to wait to get certified, if possible. 

Step 2: Get CPR and AED Certified 

You’ll need to be CPR certified before you can take your group fitness certification exam (at least for ACE Fitness). CPR certifications will typically cost you $50-100. Search around your local area to see if there are any free or discounted CPR training sessions. Some gyms will host CPR training for their staff. Even if you’re not on the staff yet, you can ask the director about attending the CPR session for free. It never hurts to ask. 

Just make sure you get the proper CPR certification. There are different types, and you want one that ACE Fitness (or whichever group fitness certification you choose) will accept. 

Step 3: Get Your Group Fitness Certification 

The majority of applicants will need to get a group fitness certification—in addition to a spinning certification—before auditioning to become a spin instructor. Let’s look at a couple of the different certifications, based on cost, respectability, difficulty, and time investment. 

These are the certifications that are the highest respected in the industry and will allow you to teach at the most gyms and studios. 

My Recommendation: ACE Fitness Group Fitness Certification [Cost: $285; occasionally offers discounts]

This certification will allow you to teach most group fitness class types. It tends to be the base certification that is universally required and then you’ll need to stack a spin certification on top. ACE Fitness is arguably the most respected certification in the industry. I have never seen a gym or studio that does not accept an ACE Fitness certification. (The only time I’ve seen this is if the studio has their own proprietary training program, but even then the ACE Fitness certification is a “nice to have”.) 

If you opt for the ACE Fitness certification, then you can purchase the spin instructor certification separately and select your preference. You may be able to get an in-person spin certification class, which is my recommendation that you’ll see below. 

Why did I choose ACE Fitness? When I completed UCLA’s Fitness Leadership Program, the master instructor recommended ACE Fitness, further validating that this one is the most well-liked group fitness certification. (FWIW, she recommended NASM for Personal Training certification.) 

What should you expect when getting certified with ACE Fitness? 

  • The Basic (and cheapest!) certification package comes with an online study dashboard, video lectures, the digital textbook, and one practice test. 
  • Keep in mind the exam is “open book,” meaning that you get to take it from home and can have your book in front of you as you complete the test. 
  • And, note the prerequisites: you must be 18+ years old, hold a current CPR and AED certification, and have a high school diploma (or the equivalent) 
  • Once you pass your test, you will not have to take another test to remain certified, unless you let your current certification expire. 

Cheapest: AFAA Indoor Cycle + Group Fitness Instructor Certification Combo [Cost: $449]

AFAA is also a great option to become a certified spin instructor, and might be slightly cheaper, since you combine the AFAA group fitness certification with the indoor cycle certification. Keep in mind that this one is completely online and does not offer an in-person training option. 

Honorable Mention: NASM

NASM is the third most-popular fitness leadership certification. However, they specialize in personal training certificates. If you go to their website, they partner with AFAA and you will be purchasing the AFAA group fitness certification program. Worth noting here since you will likely see the NASM brand come up frequently in the fitness industry. 

An Important Note on Group Fitness Certifications

As you research the types of group fitness certifications, keep in mind that every two years you will be required to complete 20 hours of Continuing Education Credits (CECs). One way you can earn these credits is by getting additional certifications (like a spin certification ;)). 

So, if you’re on the path to get both a group fitness certification and a spin instructor certification, I recommend getting your group fitness certification first and then the spin one, so that you can count the spin instructor training as part of your required CECs. 

Step 4: Get Your Certification to Become a Spin Instructor

Now that you have your group fitness certification, you’ll also need a spin-specific certification to teach classes. The good news is:

  1. Some spin certifications DO NOT require any continuing education credits (CECs), so once you complete the course, you’re all set. 
  2. Like I just mentioned, you will receive continuing education credits (CECs) for your primary group fitness certification (see above) when you complete a spin certification program. (Kill two birds!) 

Cheapest for In-person Training: Schwinn Indoor Cycling Power Certification [Cost: $159 – $229]

I recommend taking an in-person spin certification program, if possible. You’ll get more hands-on feedback, and there’s nothing that replaces that in-person riding and teaching experience. 

The Schwinn Indoor Cycle program is owned by Core Health & Fitness. Note this is not a certification to teach “rhythm rides”. However, this will teach you proper bike fit, cycling science, how to create a spin class routine, class design, music, communication skills, and motivation techniques. 

This is the cycle certification that I completed, and I’ve been very happy with it. (You can read my Schwinn Indoor Cycle certification review here.

If you can’t find an in-person training option on their website schedule, you can also consider signing up for the Schwinn Indoor Cycle training at either IDEA World or a SCW Mania convention. These training sessions will usually be held a day or two before the conference, so you can extend your trip for an extra day and get certified. (Bonus: if you want to attend a fitness conference on the cheap, sign up as a volunteer. You’ll get all of the CECs you need, and will pay a mere fraction of the ticket price to attend. Some may even offer volunteers discounts on the certifications.) 

As a last resort, there’s always the option to sign up for the Schwinn online course

What to expect with the in-person Schwinn Indoor Cycling Power Certification: 

  • It’s a one-day, 9-hour training that takes place inside a spin room. You can usually grab a step, chair, or ball to sit on when you’re not on the bike. Just know you’ll be in that room for a while, so make yourself comfortable and bring snacks. 
  • You will likely only ride 2-3 times throughout the day, and it won’t feel like a full workout. I was really worried I would feel self conscious about my fitness level and that everyone there would be very fit. The attendees in my training actually had a wide range of fitness levels, and sometimes even the “most fit” people in the room would take it easy during the ride. There’s no pressure to impress anyone!  
  • At the end, you’ll get a comprehensive manual, five complete class design plans, and a certificate of completion. 

Alternative for In-person Training: Spinning® Certification [Cost $355; $255 with code CERT2023] 

Spinning® is another well-respected program in the fitness industry. It’s owned by MAD DOGG ATHLETICS. The price is a bit higher than Schwinn Indoor Cycle; however, it may be worth considering if there are no local Schwinn trainings in your area. 

Also worth noting that the Spinning® certification requires CECs every two years, which is different from the Schwinn Indoor Cycle training (that does not expire). Over the course of your career, it will likely be cheaper to get certified via Schwinn since you won’t have to pay for CECs every two years. 

Best to Combine With the Group Fitness Certification: AFAA Indoor Cycle + Group Fitness Instructor Certification Combo [Cost: $449]

(Mentioned above.) 

Step 5: Practice and Plan Your Audition 

Before your spin instructor audition, you’ll want to do a few things: 

Take a couple spin classes at the gym or studio where you’ll be auditioning. You need to know what is the style of spin classes that are taught there. Are they more rhythm rides or traditional cycle? Do they play EDM or rock? Are they 60 minutes or 45 minutes long? What are the instructors like? Do they have big personalities? Are they diverse? You want to keep these things in mind when you plan your audition to show the hiring manager that you can fit in with this teaching style. 

Taking classes at multiple studios and gyms nearby can get expensive. Blergh! 

First, consider signing up for a free trial. You can likely test out at least one class that way. 

Second, ask the director for a free pass to help you prepare your audition. Some directors will let you attend a few classes as you get to know the studio or gym. 

Third, consider an option like ClassPass, which allows you to pay an affordable rate per class and cancel at any time. That way, you can easily cancel your membership as soon as you get hired. 

Build your audition program. In addition to understanding the style of the gym or studio, you also want to showcase your personality and uniqueness. Think about ways to show off your strengths while also adapting to the personality of the studio. You can check out my recent spin class routine and playlist I created for an audition here. And, for more inspo check out my 100 best spin songs of all time

Perform your audition on a bike, ideally in front of a few participants. If you are a regular in a spin class already, ask the instructor if you can teach the warm up or part of your spin class routine during their class for practice. Practicing out loud, on a bike, in front of an audience (of at least one person) is a non-negotiable. No matter how much practice you think you get sitting on your bed and coaching in the shower, it does not compare to the real thing. I promise it will level up your audition. 

Questions or need advice on becoming a spin instructor? Please send me a note at Good luck, and happy spinning! 

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How to Prepare to Teach a Spin Class

How I Prepare to Teach a Spin Class

Here’s one thing I can promise you: you’ll never regret spending time preparing for your spin class. It’s true. I’ve had a handful of times where I wished I listened to my playlist just one more time before teaching it. But, your time is precious, so here’s how I prepare to teach a spin class without spending hours agonizing over it. 

I Start By Planning The Spin Class Routine.

Let’s start with the obvious: first you have to create your spin routine. I go into all the details for how to create a spin routine here. The short answer is I usually pick a theme, and then build the songs and exercises around that. You can start however you’d like just make sure you build a routine that’s effective and safe. 

How I Prepare to Teach a Spin Class: Listening to My Playlist. 

Music is a critical component of the spin class experience. It helps set the mood, maintains motivation, and energizes participants throughout the session. When crafting my playlists, I made it a point to select tracks that harmonized with the pace and intensity of my routines.

Here’s where you really should not cut corners: make sure you listen to the whole playlist in its entirety. This is where I usually slip up. If I’m in a rush, I will not listen to the songs all the way through and I won’t realize until it’s too late that there’s a slow ending or an expletive.  

I usually will play my playlist as I’m dropping my kids off at school during the week. It’s become a wonderful way to start my day, and gets me familiar with the songs. 

My Most Critical Spin Instructor Tip: Practicing Out Loud.

Repeat after me: the first time you say something out loud, it will not be smooth. Do not think that practicing in your head is enough before teaching. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable in your own home and practice out loud. Practice saying the warm-up cues, practice explaining proper form. Practice all of it. Eventually, you’ll teach enough classes where you do not have to practice. But, if you’re teaching something new, practice out loud. 

Consider Choosing Clothes You’ve Already Worn. 

As an instructor, my appearance is important, but it’s equally vital to be comfortable. If you’re going to teach a new class where there’s so much to manage at once—the playlist, the choreography cues, the safety cues, the timing—you do not want to also be feeling insecure about what you’re wearing. 

I pick clothes that are tried and true. I know that they’ll hold up during a tough workout and they’ll keep me looking professional and assertive. I do not wear something new for the first time. I’ve accidentally worn see-through pants to teach before, and so I try to go with what I know will avoid that embarrassment. 

In a Rut With How You Prepare to Teach a Spin Class? Always Be Taking Other Classes.

Before I assumed the role of a spin class instructor, I made sure to be an active participant in other fitness classes of all formats. This step was crucial in shaping how I prepare to teach a spin class effectively. Whenever I need inspiration or help getting out of a rut, taking other classes provides me with invaluable insights into different teaching styles, class formats, and the expectations of my future students.

Participating in other classes helps me to watch celebrated instructors in action. I pay close attention to their cues, their music choices, and their ability to motivate the class. This first-hand experience not only enhances my personal fitness and endurance but also gives me a profound understanding of what works best in a spin class.

Being an effective instructor goes far beyond certifications and cycling proficiency. By actively participating in other classes, meticulously planning my routines, fine-tuning my playlists, practicing my cues, and selecting comfortable workout attire, I can step into that spin room with confidence, knowing I prepared appropriately. Follow the above, and you can, too. 

Good luck! 🙂 

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How Do You Create a Spin Class Routine?

How Do You Create a Spin Class Routine?

If you’ve just become a spin instructor, are moderately new to being a cycle fitness instructor, or maybe are just feeling like you’re in a teaching rut, you might be wondering: how do you create a spin class routine? Quite frankly: where do you start? 

There have been plenty of times where I got halfway through picking songs only to realize that they didn’t line up with the exercises I had in mind. Have faith that this will get easier with experience, but cut yourself some slack in the beginning—and save fragmented class and song ideas in a notebook for the future. 

Here are step-by-step instructions for how to create a spin class routine. 

Step 1: Pick a Theme

Pick a theme that will be a foundation to build your class around. Let’s cover themes to consider, and remember this is not an exhaustive list. Sometimes teaching the same class for years and years calls for an out-of-the-box theme idea. 

Playlist theme. 

Pick a theme based on the songs you’ll play. This could be a genre, like doing all classic rock, or it could be a random theme, like any song that mentions dessert. To that, you may wonder: are there enough songs?! Well, to start, we’ve got Sugar by Maroon 5, Cherry Pie by Warrant, Watermelon Sugar by Harry Styles, Candyman by Christina Aguilera, Sugar, We’re Goin Down by Fall Out Boy, and so on. 

Note: I tend to avoid sticking with just one genre in a playlist. Typically, I find folks get bored if I play too many songs from the same genre. You’ll likely have one or two go-to genres that get played the most, but mixing it up is a good way to surprise and delight with a song that’s unexpected. 

Exercise theme. 

There are times when I’m planning my class, and I find that I’m craving sprints, so that’s what I plan. 

It really can be as simple as that. No need to overcomplicate it. 

I’ll choose where I want my sprints and then sprinkle in other types of exercises to balance the intense work. In these scenarios, I’ll choose my music last, and it tends to be pretty quick. 

Motivational theme. 

This one’s a bit trickier, so stay with me. You can develop a class entirely around a motivational cue or mental task. For example, maybe you want to create a class around perseverance. You could instruct participants through a long, triple-song climb while playing songs that motivate and inspire them to keep with it. The cherry on top? You could incorporate cues and quips about persevering and sticking with the effort in class and out. 

How to Choose Your Theme

If you’re a beginning instructor, I’d keep the theme as simple and straightforward as possible. Here’s why. 

  1. It’s easier to teach. There’s less explanation required on your part. Just get the riders all pedaling forward and you’re set. Then, you can spend that extra time preparing for what’s next and sharing your safety cues. 
  1. It’s easier to follow. Participants don’t need an advanced degree to understand what your class is about. There is absolutely NO link between a complex class and a good workout. My most simple lesson plan for a 45-minute class includes a three-song climb and tabata sprints, do that three times through. It’s a hit with every class, and one I pull out when I’m subbing for an unfamiliar group. 
  1. It’s easier to plan. Especially when you’re new to planning classes, make it easy on yourself and create a simple theme. You have enough to think about with song selection and stuffing the class full of cues. 

Theme Me Up, Scotty

My Star Trek reference would make a great theme. But if you’re not a fan, here are a few other ideas to get your creative juices flowing. 

An example of a playlist theme? Songs about the earth: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye, River by Eminem feat. Ed Sheeran. 

What about an exercise theme? Jumps (in and out of the saddle). 

And, for a motivational theme? Breaking down barriers or obstacles. Plenty of great songs about overcoming challenges to achieve greatness! 

Step 2: Outline the Workout 

Now that you’ve picked your theme, you can start to build the class. I tend to go back and forth between choosing exercises then music. They’re so entangled with each other, that it’s hard to do one without the other. 

For the sake of this book, let’s start with the workout. 

Riding Variations

In case anyone forgot, when taking a spin class, you’re pedaling on a bike going nowhere. As long as the participants are set up with proper form and resistance, there’s not much else to it. 

Classes are pretty standardized, since there are only a few levers you can change while maintaining safe form. 

  • Seated or standing
  • Resistance 
  • Speed

Let’s take a quick look at what we have to work with for each of these riding variations. 

Riding Variation #1: Seated or Standing

Your class can safely ride in and out of the saddle (also known as standing and sitting). As you cue these two exercises, make sure to keep in mind proper riding technique and form cues. 

I’ve sometimes seen a third option where riders are more upright in what instructors call a jog. From a safe form perspective, as long as your hips are back over your ankles and your spine is in neutral posture, you can hinge at the hip joint as much or as little as you want. This would give you a range from an almost-upright posture to a deeper, hinged position. Keep in mind that bringing your upper body low and closer to the handlebars helps to really fire up those hamstrings and achieve maximum power output. 

Just think about when you were riding a bike as a kid. When you wanted to sprint to catch up with the big neighbor kid, you would hinge forward so that your torso was close to your thighs to engage the back of your legs so you and your bike could fly down the road. 

Riding Variation #2: Resistance

In my humble opinion, resistance is the hidden gem of riding variations. Contrary to popular belief, speed is not the only way to get out of breath. Think of it this way. If you are riding on an empty wheel, there’s a good chance you might never reach your peak intensity. Rather, you need a combination of resistance and speed. Open your horizons and play with a breathless interval that does not require maximum speed, but instead a mix of heavy, heavy resistance and speed. And, of course, vice versa. 

Riding Variation #3: Speed

We’ve got the need for speed…between exactly 60 to 110 RPMs. 

What’s RPM?! 

RPM stands for rotations per minute and it’s just that: the number of rotations your pedal is doing in one minute. It’s the metric we use to gauge speed. 

You can measure RPM the old-fashioned way—hover your hand over your knee and count how many times your knee touches your hand in a 10-second increment, then multiply that number by six. 

If your natural response to math is ewwwww, yuck, then you’re in luck. Most bikes nowadays have a monitor that tracks RPM and a whole bunch of other stuff. 

How Do You Make a Unique Class With Only Three Riding Variations? 

That, my friend, is both the fun and frightening part of teaching spin. 

It’s very easy to plan a standard class, you choose a resistance level, speed, and whether folks are seated or standing. But it’s hard to lead a spin class that’s balanced, entertaining, and special. That’s where cues and class framework come into play. 

Say, for example, you want to introduce a climb. The bike doesn’t change, the class doesn’t change. Sure, you ask your participants to find a heavy resistance, but it takes visual and motivational cues to create the feeling of being on an incline. 

Make Sure You Have the Basic Pieces of a Spin Class Routine Covered. 

When you asked, “how do you create a spin class routine?” you may have simply wanted the following information. 

In a spin class, you need to include the following three parts: 

The Warm-up

First, you must start with a warm-up. Studies show that warm-ups will help prevent injuries. It also gives you a chance to orient your riders to what your class will be like. 

Pro tip: Do not pick a song with a ton of words and/or songs that people like to sing along to. They will not listen to a word you say, and, arguably, the warm-up is the most important time for riders to listen to you. 

The Cool Down 

You also need to make sure you finish with a cool down. Give riders a chance to slow their heart rate down before coming to a complete stop. 

The Middle: Using Sequences For the Ultimate Class Structure

If you want to take your spinning classes from, “it’ll do,” to, “it’ll kick my ass,” you have to break your class up into sequences. No matter what your teaching style is, using sequences to map out your class will drastically improve the rider experience. 

You can see how I create spin class routines with sequences here

What are sequences? 

A sequence is a group of exercises that you do over and over again until class is over. For example, a sequence can be four songs long, done three times through. You can also do a sequence that’s three songs long, and do it four times through; or five songs long, and do it twice. (Tack one of these on to a 5-minute warmup and 5-minute cool down and you’ve got yourself an hour-long class.) 

The Skeleton of a Sequenced Class


(Sequence 1) 

  • Exercise A 
  • Exercise B 
  • Exercise C 
  • Exercise D 

(Sequence 2)

  • Exercise A
  • Exercise B 
  • Exercise C
  • Exercise D 

(Sequence 3)

  • Exercise A 
  • Exercise B 
  • Exercise C 
  • Exercise D 

Cool Down 

Why are sequences the greatest gift to spin instructors? 

Sequences are the best invention since gluten-free bread, because they drastically cut the amount of cueing you have to do. Think about it. For every new exercise you introduce, you have to gab on and on about the exercise, duration, resistance, speed, and effort level—–and that doesn’t even begin to cover proper form and motivational cues. When you teach the same set of exercises throughout class, you only have to explain each routine in depth once at the beginning of class. After that, you can do a quick refresh when the exercise comes back around and the riders will know what you’re talking about. This is particularly helpful: 

  • When the microphone is not working and your voice is getting hoarse from yelling
  • If participants are having trouble hearing or understanding you (which you won’t always know)
  • When you want to introduce more complex exercises, like tracking distance for time using the monitor. 

Want to check out a few sample spin class routines? Here are some of my faves: 

Wahoo! You’re that much closer to finalizing your spin class lesson plan. Now, all that’s left is the fun stuff, like picking the music and the cues. 

Know anyone else wondering how do you create a spin class routine? Please share this post.  

Enjoy! 🙂 

Disclaimer: You must be formally certified and insured in order to teach a spin class. The above does not take the place of a spinning certification and formal training. 

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How to Make Those Holiday Group Fitness Classes Special

Woman on stability ball in one of her group fitness classes

Most gyms turn into ghost towns on holiday weekends. And while my fellow fitness fanatics are salivating at the idea of having an entire gym to themselves, holiday weekends are a lot harder to navigate as Group X instructors. That’s because group fitness classes are typically smaller and chances are there a lot of new faces that aren’t familiar with your teaching style.

Although participants might be wishing they were somewhere on a beach instead (and let’s face it, you probably are, too), you want to make sure you provide a positive experience for folks that showed up to your Group X class. So, here are a few suggestions to help make those classes on holidays or holiday weekends extra special for participants.

Play themed holiday music, with a twist

Most of us have probably been to group fitness classes that played Halloween or Christmas workout songs. But, who really likes the “Monster Mash” or “Frosty the Snowman”?

Instead, put an extra twist on your themed playlist. Maybe play only holiday music from the 90s or tie in a specific genre. For Memorial Day, play only songs with a memory theme, like “Memory” by Sugarcult or “Remember the Name” by Fort Minor (so good!). You could also do only beachy songs, like “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley or “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper. Another idea is keep with a holiday theme, playing Madonna’s “Holiday,” or “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO.

As the self-appointed queen of themed spin rides, I’ve created many holiday-themed spin routines and playlists. Here are a few to browse:

Teach everyone’s favorite exercises, choreography, etc.

If you’ve been teaching your Group X class for a while now, chances are you’ll know which activities are members’ favorites. Especially on a holiday weekend where things might feel a bit slower, get the class excited by doing the moves they look forward to. What’s great about this is it’s so easy to do — just plan a jam-packed class full of favorites.

Use equipment other than the dumbbells

When classes are full, instructors often have to stick with dumbbells or other popular equipment with enough to go around. In a smaller class, you’re able to use the equipment in limited supply, like stability balls and the BOSU. And if you’re still short on equipment, consider a circuit or partner drills that have members using the items for a portion of the class.

Do activities that take up more space

When Group X classes are busy, you’re not always able to cue the moves that take up a lot of room, because you don’t want everyone to hit each other. On holidays when you might have extra room, you can teach exercises that take up a lot of space (think: roundhouse kicks or frog jumps).

Don’t be afraid to take an extra few seconds to explain a new move before having participants jump in and try it. Those extra seconds will be worth it, because participants will be more likely to succeed at the new exercise and have fun doing it.

Next time you teach on a holiday or holiday weekend, remember to make it fun for yourself and your participants. Even if your long weekend turned into a staycation, you might as well make the most of it by giving your group fitness classes a stellar experience.

For more tips and tricks, check out the group exercise ideas page.

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Here’s Recent Constructive Feedback from One of My Group X Participants

Group Exercise Instructor Implementing Feedback

It’s very rare for me to get feedback in my Group X classes. Usually most participants will leave with a smile and simply say, “thank you”. To tell if they like the class, I wait to see if they show up again, and most do! But, I never get to hear if they like the intervals or a certain song. Once you’ve taught the same group of folks for a while, you can start to recognize participants’ demeanor and get familiar with how they act when they like something, but other than that, specific, useful feedback is far and few between.

So, I was so appreciative when a participant came up to me after class one day to share a suggestion. Here was the feedback:

“Make sure the effort and pace match the beat of the song, especially at the very end of the song.”

I am guilty of listening to songs for just the first 30 seconds or so, and if I like the beat, I’ll add it to the queue. But, there have been numerous times where the song will end in a weird way, either by cutting out early, audience applause or just a slow, drawn out finish. In the past, I’ve told participants to, “go faster than the beat,” but this person explained that it wasn’t enjoyable to do that.

Lucky for me, there is such an easy fix. Now, I make sure to listen to the end of the song — each and every week — as a reminder of how it ends. Sometimes I’ll write notes to myself to point out when I should do the intervals to make sure I’m doing them when the beat is most intense and upbeat.

Something to think about in your classes, as well. If you think your participants don’t notice when you’re slacking off, think again. Also, it’s a good idea to ask for feedback every once in a while, especially if you’re first starting with a new class or have been teaching the same class for a while. And, of course, listen to all of the song at least once right before you teach it — always.

For more tips, check out the group exercise ideas page.

And, let’s connect on Twitter @GroupXMich.


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Gifts for Healthy Moms, 2017 Mother’s Day Edition

Gifts for Healthy Moms: Nike Shoes

There are so many cool trinkets and accessories out there, but when it comes time for Mother’s Day, it can be hard to find gifts for healthy moms. That’s why I put together a list of great gifts for fitness instructors, or any healthy mommas out there. I made a Mother’s Day gift guide last year that had a lot of great gift ideas in it, too. If you’ve never gifted your mom a Spotify gift card, a ClassPass subscription or cute workout pants, definitely check it out.

And, without further ado, here are some more great gifts for healthy moms for this Mother’s Day.

Gifts for Healthy Moms #1: Foam rollers

Gifts for Healthy Moms: Foam Rollers

Foam rollers have become increasingly popular as the industry has been giving greater focus to stretching, recovery and self-care. You can foam roll while you watch TV, and it’s been proven to help increase flexibility and decrease pain.

If you’re interested in purchasing a foam roller as a gift for your mom, check out The Sweet Home’s roundup of best foam rollers.

Gifts for Healthy Moms #2: New Shoes

Gifts for Healthy Moms: Nike Shoes

Especially if your fitness instructor mom wears the same pair of shoes day in and day out, it’s probably time to get her a new pair. There are so many fun pairs of shoes out there right now, like these Nike Free TR 6 AMP.

You might also want to check out the site which has a lot of name brand shoes, accessories and clothes on sale.

Gifts for Healthy Moms #3: Admission to a fitness conference

Gifts for Healthy Moms: Fitness Conference


There are so many great fitness conferences and expos coming up this year, and fitness instructors love to attend. If you’re looking at a gift that’s at least $100, check out the upcoming conferences to see if there’s anything in your mom’s area.

Gifts for Healthy Moms #4: Wireless Headphones

Gifts for Healthy Moms: Headphones

For our runner mothers, new, clean headphones are such a luxury, especially ones that will stay in your ears and avoid getting damaged by sweat. Amazon has two high-rated, affordable pairs of wireless headphones here and here.

Gifts for Healthy Moms #5: Yummy tea bags and honey

Gifts for Healthy Moms: DAVIDsTEA

Fitness instructor moms often come home with those sexy raspy voices (yes, I have one, too! :)). When the mic doesn’t work in the group fitness studio, it’s up to the instructor to yell cues for an hour. Help your mom soother her voice and throat by giving her fancy tea bags and honey. After a long day, I love to cuddle up with a cup of tea and honey.

DAVIDsTEA and Yogi tea have always been a big hit with my friends and family.

Gifts for Healthy Moms #6: Lush bath bombs

Gifts for Healthy Moms: Bath bombs

Make your mom’s next bubble bath a luxurious one with Lush bath bombs. They smell so good and really transform the bath experience. Lush even has some cute bath bombs that say “MOM”.

Hope all the fit and healthy moms out there have a fabulous Mother’s Day!

(Image Credit: Her Campus & Aaai-ismafitness

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April 2017 Links I Love for Fitness Professionals

April Links I Love for Fitness Instructors

It’s that time again! Another month has come and gone, along with a lot of great fitness and health articles and studies. For me, April was a blur, between celebrating friends’ birthdays, picking up my wedding dress (5 months to go!) and keeping up at work. I’m really looking forward to May — lots of planned family and friend time, and I’m hoping for good, sunshine-y weather. Before we jump into May, I want to take a second to look back at the top articles in fitness and health, so that other fitness professionals, like yourself, can keep up with the latest trends and happenings.

If your month was anything like mine, it was quite the challenge to stay in the loop on everything that happened in the fitness industry in April. There were a few important studies you’ll want to brush up on and viral articles you’ll want to make sure you read. That way, you can come to your next group exercise class armed with the most up-to-date knowledge to better their experience.

Here’s a look at my favorite fitness and wellness articles from April that fitness professionals should read.

  1. One study found that high-intensity intervals were the best for making our cells regenerate, so on a cellular level, interval training helps us look and feel younger (reported by Inc. magazine). I tried to explain this to my spin class, and as soon as I mentioned “mitochondria” their eyes glazed over. So, if you do share this information in your class, be sure to keep it simple.
  2. The 5 Most Common Excuses Holding You Back by Susie Moore via Greatist. Yes, I’m obsessed with Susie Moore — if you ever catch me reading one of her articles, you will see me nodding along in agreement the whole time, eyes affixed to the screen. She speaks to my soul.
  3. 10 reasons why you should be stretching by Jessica Matthews via ACE Fitness. If you’re already a fitness professional, chances are you already know the benefits of stretching, so this is a great tool to share with your classes to encourage them to stick around and do stretches after exercise.
  4. How to do a bodyweight split squat via New York Times Well blog. I love the angles and color of this post. Great exercise to add to your next group exercise class, too.
  5. 3 Lessons About Mental Toughness You Can Learn From Yoda via Tor Constantino for Entrepreneur magazine. We all know participants show up to your group exercise classes so you can motivate them and get them to work harder than they would on their own. These mental toughness tips are great to try in your next class.
  6. If your talk doesn’t do these three things, don’t give it, via Neil Pasricha for Fast Company. While we all know how important it is to provide participants with a safe, effective workout, it’s also just as important to entertain and educate. We need to think of ourselves as not only lesson planners, but also public speakers and teachers.
  7. 5 must-do exercise to do if you want a stronger core, via Lee Boyce for Muscle & Strength. Crunches are a thing of the past, yet many participants will still show up expecting to do “abs” for the last 10 minutes of class. Here are some great core exercises to try that will get away from crunches and sit-ups.
  8. Why Vanessa Hudgens never wears a shirt to the gym via Haley Goldberg for Whether you teach in just a sports bra or not, this is a trend that seems to be getting attention right now.

If you liked this roundup, you may also like the fitness and wellness articles from March and February. You can also check out the group exercise ideas page.

And, let’s connect on Twitter @GroupXMich!

(Image Source: Vanessa Hudgens’ Instagram/ 

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What’s Your Group Exercise Instructor Uniform?

Group Exercise Instructor Uniform

As group exercise instructors, we put a lot of effort into our class presentation, including our motivational cues, voice and gestures. It’s important to note that even things like our appearance has an impact on what participants think of our class. If we come into class disheveled with our hair always in our face or constantly adjusting our clothes, participants are going to have a reaction. So, it is important to put some time and effort into your group exercise instructor uniform (your workout clothes, hair and overall hygiene) to make sure you’re giving the best impression to your clients.

Appearance is a very personal topic, and it is important to let your personality shine through when you’re teaching. Don’t feel like you have to follow the mold of what you think a “typical group exercise instructor” looks like. Participants truly value authenticity above all else. When it comes to what you wear, there are a couple common questions and dress codes I’ve seen group exercise instructors swear by. I wanted to share these with you today, and then you can decide for yourself if it’s a uniform that fits your style.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when picking out your group exercise instructor uniform.

  1. Will I wear colorful clothes?

Bright colors are super popular right now, so it’s understandable that you want to wear bright colors as you teach. I do think it’s surprising that not all instructors wear colors. Some swear by sticking with neutrals, like black and grey. The argument here is that black is considered a professional, serious color. If you’re wearing all black, folks might look to you as a leader of the room. I do wear a lot of colors, but the one thing I admire about folks that only wear black workout clothes is they always look put together. There’s something about a monochromatic or very blended outfit that looks both effortless and stylish.

  1. Should I teach in just a sports bra?

This is a very touchy question: can you teach in just a sports bra? Nowadays, those high-waisted workout pants make it all the easier to teach in a sports bra and look professional. I would look at the dress code of the other instructors before stripping down, because some gyms are pretty modest. Showing a lot of skin might also make participants uncomfortable, so proceed with caution.

And, speaking of sports bras do your best to make sure your girls are supported during your workout. It’s distracting when an instructor has cleavage or starts jumping and moving in an unsupportive sports bra.

  1. How should I do my hair?

Some instructors will always have their hair falling down, and regularly fix their hair in class. Again, it’s distracting and takes away from the professionalism. I recommend securing your hair as best you can so that it stays put and doesn’t require your attention at all in class.

  1. Should I wear brand names?

Your participants are very impressionable, and the clothing choices you make will have an impact on them. I try to limit the brand names (e.g. Nike) that I wear, because I don’t want to use the power I hold to influence my participants’ consumer decisions. Especially in certain geographic areas I’ve taught in, like the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, there are a lot of participants that come in expensive workout clothes (think: Lulu Lemon). I want participants to feel comfortable taking my class without needing expensive gear or equipment. I may wear a nice pair of Lulu’s one day, but always try to balance it with non-descript capri pants on other days, as well.

The group exercise instructor uniform is a very sensitive topic. You want to balance your own desire for self-expression with your responsibilities as a role model to your participants. When in doubt, I usually err on the side of caution. If you are ever uncertain about what to wear, I recommend talking to your group exercise director or a colleague you trust.

For more tips, check out the group exercise ideas page.

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What to Bring to a Fitness Convention

What to Bring to a Fitness Convention

If you’re looking for a fitness convention or health and fitness expo, there are a ton of great ones coming up this summer: IDEA World Fitness Convention (July 19-23), Zumba Instructor Convention (July 27-30) and SCW Mania Convention (July 29-30) to name a few. You can find an extensive list of upcoming events here. I attended SCW Mania in California earlier this year, and the experience was amazing — I get giddy just thinking about it! But leading up to the event, I always get nervous about what to bring to a fitness convention.

For example, I’d hate to be drenched in sweat at 8 a.m. only to realize I have to sit in my clothes for the rest of the day, since I forgot a back-up outfit. Now that I have quite a few conferences under my belt, I thought I’d share a few items that have been lifesavers for me when I attend conferences.

Here’s my list of what to bring to a fitness convention.

Outfit to pack for a fitness convention

  1. A back-up outfit (including an extra sports bra, shoes and hair ties)

Like I mentioned above, if you do attend a session with an intense workout, it can be nice to put on a clean outfit afterwards or around lunch time if your day is full of exercising. And, if you start to realize your shoes are uncomfortable or your hair tie breaks, it’s worth it to have back-ups with you at the fitness convention.

  1. A hardback notebook or clipboard

This is a lesser-known packing item that can be so helpful during the sessions. In every session I’ve attended, I sat in a chair or on the floor while the presenter went through their slides. Without a hard surface to use, your notes can easily end up illegible. So, I like to bring a sturdy notebook with me to write on or act as my “desk” if there’s a handout.

  1. Pens and highlighters

Make sure to bring pens to take notes. I always like to have a backup, because my pens never cease to run out at the wrong time. And, you might want to bring a highlighter, as well, if the presenter will be passing out worksheets or if you like to highlight your notes.

  1. Snacks

If you’re like me, hunger can strike at any time. That means being ready at a moment’s notice to grab a snack. I like to have a few snacks handy that I can eat whenever. I recommend packing snacks that you can eat pretty easily (and sneakily) during a workshop. I always start to turn red when I’m the girl in the back of class ripping open a bag of pretzels or shoveling trail mix in my face and spilling everywhere. My go-to snack is the granola bar, because it’s so easy to eat and so tasty.

What to pack for a fitness convention

  1. Lunch

Most conventions will have food options available to purchase at the convention. Since I’m on a budget (saving for my wedding!), I try to pack my own lunch. You can pretty easily pack a sandwich and stick a ice pack in the bag to keep it cool until lunch time. I’ve even brought microwaveable lunches in my bag with an ice pack and used the public microwave at the snack bar. This lets me eat a decent meal to make sure I have enough energy to power through the day. Consider calling the convention center ahead of time to see what the food options are.

  1. Deodorant, face wash/baby wipes

If you break out easily or feel yucky hanging out sweaty for too long, consider bringing toiletries to help freshen up at lunch time. Deodorant is a must, and also consider a face wash or toilet to keep you feeling fresh.

  1. The convention schedule, map and session handouts

These are the three items you’ll need to successfully navigate the convention. I always like to have the whole schedule in front of me, in case I decide last minute I want to switch sessions. And, you’ll want to make sure you have a map to figure out how to get around from session to session.

  1. Phone and extra charger

If you live tweet an event or use your phone to take notes and pictures, it’s always a good idea to bring a phone charger or portable battery charger.

  1. Sweatshirt

The rooms at a fitness convention are notorious for being cold, especially after you stop moving. Make sure to bring a sweatshirt or two to make sure you’re staying comfortable. Sometimes it’s nice to have two different long sleeve items, so that if one gets really sweaty you have another clean one for later.

If you’re going to a fitness convention this year, hope you have SO much fun! Please let me know if you have anything to add to this list, or other advice for convention attendees.

For more tips, check out the group exercise ideas page.

And, let’s connect on Twitter @GroupXMich.


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Why I have an ACE Group Fitness Certification to Teach Group X Classes

ACE Group Fitness Certification handbook

If you want to become a Group X instructor, you’ve likely started researching different fitness certifications that you can get to teach, including the ACE Group Fitness certification. You may have noticed that all you need is a Group X certification and CPR/AED to technically teach group fitness classes; however, some certifications are more impressive and widely-accepted than others.

If you have a specific gym in mind, you’ll want to make sure you ask the group exercise director that runs their program what fitness certifications they’ll accept. It might also be worth emailing the gyms nearby to see what fitness certifications they require in case you decide down the road you want to teach there. Otherwise, you’ll have to decide for yourself what certification to take.

Here’s why I chose the ACE Group Fitness Certification.

When I was taking UCLA’s Fitness Leadership Program back in 2010, we were encouraged to take the ACE Fitness group exercise certification test, because it was one of the most accepted and respected options for Group X instructors. There were other choices, but this one was strongly encouraged. I didn’t think anything of it at the time and just selected the ACE Fitness test, but I was so glad I did.

Moving up to San Francisco Bay Area after college graduation, I started looking for gyms I could teach at, and every single one accepted the ACE Fitness certification. For reference, I’ve been on the group exercise instructor list at more than five gyms. A year in, one of the gyms I taught at ClubSport even changed its policy and required instructors to have either ACE or AFAA nationally-accredited certification. Many instructors were frustrated that they had to go out and get another certification. If you’re just starting out, you can avoid this scenario by choosing ACE or AFAA in the first place.

For more advice, check out the group exercise ideas and tips page.

(Image source: ACE Fitness