I get the "Where can I get certified as a "Spin®","Schwinn®" or simply an Indoor Cycling Instructor?" question a lot. While trying to be helpful, more often than not my response is "I'm sorry, but you are asking the wrong person." "The person you want to ask is the manager at the club where you would like to teach."
Many people skip that step - here's why you shouldn't...
Sometimes I feel like Dr. Alfred Lanning from the movie I Robot where Will Smith's character, Detective Del Spooner, is quizzing Dr. Lanning's holographic image. The Doctor looks at him and says "I'm sorry. My responses are limited. You must ask the right questions."
The right question is; "what do I need to do to teach a regularly scheduled Indoor Cycling class at my local club?"
UPDATE: It can't hurt to check first to see which studios & clubs are hiring. This Instructor jobs board is a great place to start 🙂
"That's a question I can answer" 🙂
I'll put this in the context of a question our daughter Abby, a Junior in college, asked us last fall; "I'd really like to write for a car magazine... and get to drive a lot of cool cars!" "How do I get a job like that?"
"My responses are limited. You must ask the right questions."
"OK, so what would you suggest I do to get into the car business?"
"That's a question I can answer."
Our advice for our daughter Abby was to find a company (any company) in the car business and see if they have some type of entry level job where she can get her feet wet. Luckily for Abby, her mother (Amy) had a friend who's husband (Brandon) is an area manager for Enterprise Car Rental. Not "Car and Driver", but for a 21 year college junior, quite possibly the perfect place to get her start in the "car business". Long story short, Abby met with the manager and learned that they offer a select number of summer internships. During this initial meeting she asked a lot of questions about what Enterprise is looking for in the people they hire. Armed with this "insider information", she was able to successfully navigate a long interview process (there are hundreds of applicants) and she starts Enterprise's summer Management Training program next month 🙂 It's hard to say where it will lead, but it's a very positive start for a sharp young women.
I feel the same thinking applies to securing your first teaching gig; there are a lot of people who would like to teach, but few who will do the exploratory ground work where they can "ask the right questions". It's really just the tried and true sales process that's been followed for thousands of years. Here are the steps:
- Decide if you are willing to do whatever (within reason of course) it takes to secure a regularly scheduled class.
- Identify your prospect(s) (potential customer). You are after all selling something here; YOU! There maybe only one location, or there could be a dozens near you. Don't rule out anywhere that offers Indoor Cycling. Your objective is to get a scheduled class. I shouldn't matter where and it may not be in the most convenient location.
- Find the decision maker at the club/studio. This shouldn't be too hard; take a class there (everyone offers a free class) and ask the Instructor after class. It's important to be very direct with your intent; which is to learn who can say YES to you teaching there! Tell the Instructor that you are interested in learning about becoming an Instructor and you would appreciate knowing who makes the hiring decisions. That's all you want to learn from the Instructor - nothing more! Resist the temptation to ask if they are hiring - people tend to be protective of their "turf" and you want a friend, not someone who's fearful that you want to take their job. Be sure to get the Instructor's first and last name because you will need it later.
- Repeat at every location. Rejection is much easier to handle if you have multiple prospects 🙂 Do yourself a favor and don't get emotionally committed to only one studio if at all possible.
- Contact the decision maker (by phone or in person - never by email) with the objective of scheduling a short meeting where you can learn more about what the club looks for in an Instructor. That's it, nothing beyond the commitment to meet at a later date. You may say something like this; Hi Ms. Jones, my name is John and I took a class at your club last week. It was with (insert full name of the the Instructor here) and I wanted you to know that I really enjoyed her class and your club! Next you show him/her you're concerned about them; Am I catching you at a good time? I have a quick question I'd like to ask you. Wait for their response. If it's anything but I'm OK, offer to call them back when it's a better time. "What can I help you with?" I'm really interested in learning everything I can about becoming an Instructor. (Instructor's first name) told me you have a lot of experience in the fitness industry and I have a number questions. I realize you have a busy schedule but could we schedule a time for a short meeting this Thursday or Friday mid-morning? Always offer an either / or option, not a question that can be easily answered by NO. If the response is anything like "we aren't hiring any new Instructors" affirm this and again ask for the meeting; Sure, I understand that you aren't hiring now. I was just hoping to gain from your experience. It should only take 15 minutes or so... would Friday at 10:00am work for you? There's nothing wrong with being persistent! It must have taken Abby a month for her to get Brandon's commitment to the first meeting. We had to repeatedly encourage her to keep after him and in then end he told her that it was her persistence that caused him to finally agree to the meeting.
- For many, securing the appointment will be the second hardest part of this process. With a meeting in hand you know the drill; show up on time, look nice, smile, etc... Keep your commitment to asking questions. Here are a few suggestions:
- What certification do you require?
- What makes for a popular Instructor?
- Is there a certain type of Instructor your members appreciate more than others?
- Do you feel you are missing/lacking any specific type of class format that would appeal to people who aren't currently members?
- How do you decide on what types of classes you offer?
- Do you have specific times during the year when you make class scheduling changes?
This isn't the time to talk a lot about yourself 🙁 Even if the manager gives you an opening "why do you want to be an Instructor?" resist the temptation to say too much. Keep your answers brief and end them with another question. People love to be interviewed and talk about themselves, so keep asking them questions.
- How long have you been in the fitness industry?
- Why did you first get into the fitness industry?
- Do you participate in any events; triathlon, 5k, charity rides, etc.. ?
Then comes the hardest part (and only if you feel you've developed some rapport with him/her) where you ask a "If I could, would you?" question, as in; If I could get a (insert the certification they named) would you consider evaluating me as a potential Instructor? And then wait for the answer.
If it's positive then visit this site to find an Indoor Cycling Certification and also review this post about auditioning for an Indoor Cycling Instructor teaching position.
Many clubs and studios now accept an online certification. If they will you can get certified here.
If it's not positive, ask some more specific questions to learn exactly why and then thank them for their time and move on to your next meeting.
Please let me know if this was helpful to you by leaving a comment below - or visit indoorcyclinginstructorjobs.com to find your new class 🙂
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Originally posted 2012-04-24 09:22:21.
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If a prospective instructor starts here, they’re on the right track. Good post.
no kidding chuck. great information and wish i’d had this reference when starting my journey. one question i always like to ask is “where do you see your cycling program in 3-5 years”? let’s me know if they have goals and are interested in growth, program progression and development.
something i’ve also learned the hard way is to specifically CLARIFY what the “minimum” age is allowed to participate in a cycling class. even though a program, rules whatever you call it, may suggest a certain age minimum that little clause of “with an adult may participate in group classes” can bring in 11-12yr olds which is not appropriate for a whole host of reasons, most importantly bike fit and i was told this was accepted.
Renee that’s a great question as I have had the same problem – making me look like the bad guy for saying something.
This is wonderful advice for any type of job search. Ask me, I know. Now that Carly (our baby) is off to college, I am back in the official job market. Asking about what people do, why they are good at it and how they got where they are is a great learning experience. And people like to talk about themselves!