This post from and has been re-posted with permission.

By Tom Scotto

You don”™t want to continually warn people how hard your certification testing is because it always sounds like you”™re just trying to hype things up. That was never our intention. We just wanted to give folks a heads-up that this may not be what they”™ve experienced in the past. Despite the warnings and the strong recommendation to study and practice before taking the written and practical exams, some have hastily attempted the certification and failed. They were in shock! “How could I fail, both the written AND practical. I”™ve been teaching at multiple health clubs for X amount of years. You must have made a mistake”.

Unfortunately, there was no mistake.

Who”™s to Blame?

Is the written test too hard? No. Is expecting an instructor to be able to demonstrate their ability to teach too much to require? Absolutely not. So why would someone who has been teaching indoor cycling for years (some previously holding more than one indoor cycling certification) fail the Stage5 Cycling certification? Who is to blame?

It is NOT the instructors fault!

The blame falls on indoor cycling companies and health clubs. Indoor cycling companies have provided inadequate training and “certification” from the start and health clubs have allowed it to enter their facilities.


Historically, indoor cycling certifications have never been legitimate certifications. Participants attend a 1-day “orientation” and are awarded their certification because of their attendance. No exams, written or practical are required. Instructors are then considered qualified to teach 20 to 30+ people in a group fitness environment after just one day of training. There would be a shred of merit to the process if instructors were required to at least hold a personal trainer or group fitness certification. Then the indoor cycling certification would be considered an “add-on” to their existing knowledge and experience base. This is not the case. Anyone can take an indoor cycling certification workshop and then be considered a certified instructor.

Workshop Adventures

Because of the expectation that has been created over the years, a number of people get confused when they sign-up for our 2-day workshop. They automatically assume the workshop provides them with their certification. It takes them a few moments to wrap their mind around the concept that they will still have to take a comprehensive written and practical exam — on a separate date. The encouraging part is that instructors get it. Once you explain the value and the standard we are trying to uphold, they get excited and express that this is what they always wanted.

Resetting Expectations

Our goal is to recapture the value, expertise and pride in being a indoor cycling instructor. This can only happen if people obtain a legitimate certification. The expectation needs to be reset. For example, one expects to study, take workshops and sit for a challenging exam in order to become a personal trainer. This is the expectation that the industry has created. Take a look at the hours, cost and requirements of some popular health and fitness certifications:

Name / Type Study Materials Workshop Hours Exam Total
ACE Personal Trainer $149 $199 12 $249 $597
ACSM Personal Trainer $129 $375 20 $279 $783
NASM Personal Trainer $90 $249 16 $549 $888
AFAA Group Fitness $44 $299 8 (Included) $343
Yoga 200+ hours of training / $3,000+ Total
Pilates 600+ hours of training / $5,000+ Total

Now let”™s take a look at Indoor Cycling Certifications*:

Name Workshop Hours Exam Total
Stage5 Cycling
$275 14 $75 $350
Spinning $295 8 NONE $295
Schwinn** $225 8 NONE $225
Keiser ? 6 NONE ?
RPM - No Information Found -
Lemond $225 8 NONE $225
C.O.R.E. $350 14 Unclear $350+
Heart Zones
$249 3 NONE $249
CycleOps Power - No Information Found -

*Based on information found on company”™s website and email correspondence. Workbooks included.
**Schwinn now has a 2-day workshop, but only offered in Europe.

Who Will Stop the Maddness?

It should come as no surprise why indoor cycling instructors are not seen as equals to other certified fitness professionals. Personal trainers and certified cycling coaches spend hundreds of hours in study and practical application while an indoor cycling instructor (usually a person with a great heart and energy) can have no experience, take 1 day of training, with no test, and be considered certified.

Stage5 Cycling has taken a stand (and a huge investment) to bring indoor cycling to the level of other legitimate health and fitness certifications. However, until health clubs and compliance standards follow our example, very little will change. Regardless, we will continue to deliver the very best in workshops and certification for indoor cycling. We thank all of you who believe in our mission and have taken our workshops. And to the thousands of members who take our classes, we are forever committed to bring you Real Cycling, Real Training and Real Results.

You can learn more about Scott and his company Stage5 Cycling here.

Originally posted 2010-01-22 08:20:09.


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