Since becoming certified as an indoor cycling instructor in 2006, Segbefia — at attorney for the federal government by day, a mother of one daughter and a once-a-week Zumba instructor — has peddled her way from a rookie teacher to master instructor at Revolve, where she has been working since the studio opened in 2011.
As master instructor, Segbefia is responsible for recruiting, training and critiquing new instructors. She is also in charge of marketing and developing new classes and ideas.
She has many of the same responsibilities as a regular instructor, too, like when she arrives to teach a class, she sets up her bike and helps riders, especially newcomers, do the same. Once everyone is ready, she gives her class — about 25-30 people — a verbal roadmap of their ride. Then off they go.
Segbefia will hop off her bike and walk around to challenge and push her riders. “I really try to engage everybody in the class and make it seem like it’s a fun place to be,” she says.
Segbefia had only been indoor cycling (aka “Spinning,” a trademarked term) for a year before she decided to become a certified instructor. “I don’t like being the follower. I like to lead,” she says, attributing it to being a Leo, her zodiac sign.
She received her certification through a Schwinn instructor training program, and she also learned CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator separately. Most gyms and studios require at least CPR training, and many instructors get their licenses through the Red Cross, she says.
Although Segbefia admits to having “totally bombed” the first classes she taught after becoming a certified indoor cycling instructor, she kept at it, improving and teaching classes at corporate gyms until 2011.
That’s when she met Sylvan Garfunkel, president of Revolve at the time. He had heard of how popular some of Segbefia’s classes at other gyms were, she explains. She was hired and trained under the studio’s master instructor at the time. Before long, she was helping recruit new instructors.
Being physically fit is a must to be able to keep up with teaching two to three classes back to back, as is a willingness to be a “team player” and pitch in when another instructor at your gym or studio needs help, Segbefia says.
Having a wide range of musical taste is also a must for instructors, she says. Syncing the pedal strokes to the music helps “dictate how hard a rider should be working and at what speed,” she says, so an instructor should know the beats per minute of songs in her class playlists. Music editing software can help you figure it out, Segbefia says. (She uses iTunes, Serato and Audacity.)
Having a big personality helps, too. “You can’t be scared of your riders. You have … to know these people and to have command of your class,” she says.
Be open to feedback on your teaching style, especially when starting out. It’s also good to have an overall positive attitude as an instructor and to be able to focus on your class. “Whatever is going on in your life, you’ve just got to let it go for the hour that you’re teaching,” she says.
Aspiring indoor cycling instructors need to become certified. Once certified, new instructors must spend a lot of time practicing. “The class is harder to teach than it looks,” she says. (Just try talking into a microphone and cycling for a full hour.)
Segbefia says the most popular instructor training programs are offered by Spinning and Schwinn, which are offered nationwide. Most programs last 9-10 hours over one day and cost $300 on average, she says. Segbefia notes that most boutique cycling studios, such as Revolve, are Schwinn-bike based. Revolve requires its instructors to get Schwinn certification and to have prior teaching experience.
Once certified, she recommends new instructors try out their training wheels at a smaller gym or a recreation center, like she did, to “work out the kinks in the routine.”
Start listening to music and putting together playlists, too. “It’s really important to change your music every class,” she says. Surprises help keep riders motivated and feeling fresh.
Getting your foot in the door is crucial, so ask a current cycling instructor at a gym about how to contact the group exercise coordinator to audition for a position, she says.
“Finding a mentor to help you with the initial audition is really a good idea,” Segbefia says. The audition is important and potential instructors should practice and “come very prepared.”
And if you do land a gig, don’t expect to quit your day job right away. Most gyms and smaller recreation centers do pay new instructors, she says, but “you won’t make much starting off.”
As someone in charge of recruiting new instructors, Segbefia says, she looks for someone “who really wants to work for us, who cares about the riders.” Just like she does.
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