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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 michelle@groupxfitnesstips.com. Good luck, and happy spinning!