10 Tips For All Newbie Spin Instructors

  1. Always Be Early For Class

Like they say, “If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re early, you’re on time.”

Before the start of the class, there are actually quite a few checks that an instructor needs to go through — the sound, the lights, the fans and etc. You have to make sure all the essential electronics work and that you’re familiar with the different switches. Better be prepared than to be surprised by a fault or a confusion in the middle of the class.

More benefits of being early for class discussed in the points below.

2. Check The Audio

Make sure that the loud speakers are working, your playlist plays fine, the mic works okay, so on and so forth. For me, I am still not too good with controlling the volume of the sound system. As the speakers are in front of me and facing the class in some studios, it’s difficult to gauge how loud the music is for the clients. I had feedback saying that my music could be much louder when I thought I was already blasting it. Moreover, some songs in the playlist may sound softer or louder than others, or the bass may be much stronger and thus, much louder. You need to take note of them and think of how you have to adjust the volume for the comfort of the clients. When the music is not loud enough, people don’t get pumped up. But when the music is too loud, it can give some people headache.

Usually before class when I’m all alone in the room, I like to take some time to test the loudness of the music and the mic. I would walk around the room and listen to make sure that my voice through the mic isn’t too loud or overwhelmed by the music.

One point to note is that music in an empty room may sound louder than in a room full of people.

3. Download Your Playlist

If you’re using Spotify for your music, it’s best to download the songs into your phone. Some studios have weaker internet connection and may cause the streaming to stop halfway. Yikes! (And of course, charge your device beforehand.)

4. Chatting With Clients

Talk to your clients before and after class. This is one practice that I really want to be better at. This is also why you should get to class much earlier to prepare and then leave like 5 minutes spare time to just talk to the class, share something about yourself or your week, engage with your clients and make yourself more approachable. Some clients might need help adjusting their bikes too, so this spare time can be used for that.

5. Pre-Prepared Notes

For some seasoned instructors, they can remember the entire playlist and the format of each song, and at times they might even change things up a bit, like making some routines harder or easier depending on the class. For me, I usually have an iPad lying in front of me on the handlebar and it shows the playlist and the routine for each song. I try not to refer to it too much; it’s just there in case I need some help. Some instructors use a small notebook for reference (usually when the space is brightly lit enough for them to read) while others use a laptop for both the music and their notes.

6. Most EDM Tracks Have Very Similar Structure

One thing about instructing with music is that you need to know your songs well and make sure you hit every bass drop right. The bass drop is usually when sprint interval or a higher level climb that requires a switch up on the resistance comes. From my experience, I learned that the bass drops are usually either about 15 seconds or 30 seconds long; some stretches to 45 seconds. A song usually contains two or three bass drops, and sometimes even four, though quite rarely — depends on the length of the track, really. In between the bass drops are the rest periods, or what I’d like to call recovery periods, that are usually around 30 seconds, 45 seconds, or a minute long.

So when you listen to a new song, take note of the build up, and then the bass drop, how long it lasts, and how long for recovery before the next bass drop kicks in. After a while you’ll see that they are all “the same.”

7. You Can’t Please Every Single Client

I remember having this conversation with my spin teacher Christina about pleasing clients. We agreed that it’s impossible for a class to have 100% approval rate. There will always be that 10% who dislike your style or your music or your routines. Though it is also this 10% that we often care too much about, when in fact it’s the other 90% that we should listen to and cater more to.

That’s the main difference between being a personal fitness instructor and being a group fitness instructor — how far you can cater to your audience. When you have just one client to listen to, it’s much easier to keep track and change things up accordingly. But when you have over 10 clients, all with different fitness levels and opinions, it becomes impossible to please everybody.

I guess my point is, stay true to your style. Those who like you will stay, and those who don’t, well, they’ll just go find somebody else.

8. Class Size

The good thing about a big class size is that the energy level in the room is already there and it’s easier to get everybody pumped up. When everybody is working hard together, the herd mentality pushes the whole class forward. People feel more energized and more motivated to do their best. This is why I prefer to instruct a bigger class. When the class is small, there may be less pressure since there are fewer pairs of eyes staring at you for directions, BUT you need to radiate a much bigger personality and exhibit an even higher energy level than usual to get the class going. Sometimes in a small class, even when you try your darn best, the room will still be only like 60–70% energy level instead of a hundred.

9. Sports/Energy Drink

I’m the kind of instructor who rides with my class and make sure that I work hard so my clients would follow along. I prefer a sports/energy drink instead of plain water because I feel that it gives my body what it needs to sustain a high level of performance throughout the class. For me, I like to make my own sports/energy drink at home instead of going for brands like Gatorade. It’s a much cheaper option and wastes less plastic too. A simple recipe would be honey water with lemon juice and a pinch of salt.

10. Talk About Your Other Classes

Be your own PR person. It’s always good to publicise the other classes you teach at the studio. Personally, I know I should do so more often, especially since I’m new, but sometimes after class people are just rushing to leave and it’s difficult to catch their attention. This is especially true for the early-morning-before-people-go-to-work classes and the evening-after-work-before-dinner classes. Nonetheless try to squeeze this self-promotion. At least those who enjoy your class know they have other options available.


Nigel is currently teaching spin at CORE40 Studios and Cardio-Tone in San Francisco, California.