My experience with the Les Mills RPM certification process and why I did the training even though I already taught cycle.
Many of you asked about the RPM certification after I did the training 2 weekends ago. This posts goes over what RPM is and how the training/certification process works, plus some of my thoughts on Les Mills and the RPM training itself. This is a pretty text-heavy post but I hope it helps those of you who were interested!
What is RPM?
RPM is the indoor cycle program developed by Les Mills. In RPM, you ride to the beat of the music and the workout is choreographed (like all Les Mills groups fitness classes), meaning it’s the same format every time. The music and specific choreography changes every 3 months with new “releases” but the overall format always remains the same – you’ll have a warm-up track, flat speedwork, mixed terrain, hills, mountains, cool down and stretching. You won’t necessarily have to listen to the same songs over and over for 3 months since instructors can mix in songs from old releases to keep things interesting. Because the format stays the same, you can always know what to expect, can guage your progress and know that you’ll get a great workout, instead of dealing with hit and miss instructors, music, preparation, etc.
Wait, so what is Les Mills?
Les Mills is a New Zealand-based company that creates choreographed workouts, trains instructors through a rigorous certification process who then deliver the classes in gyms across the world. A gym has to be licensed with Les Mills to have the classes in their facility and a Les Mills certified instructor cannot teach at a gym that is not licensed.
The thing that makes Les Mills programs different than a regular group exercise class you’ll take is the research behind the programs; the entire company is devoted to creating effective workouts. They have medical professionals, fitness professionals, and a whole bunch of others at the top of their respective fields that help create the 8 programs that Les Mills offers (ranging from cycle to weight training to a yoga/pilates mix to martial arts). For example, some of the contributors to developing RPM are professional cyclists. Pretty cool.
Why did you want to get an RPM certification when you already teach cycle?
I started taking Body Pump (the Les Mills weight-training class) last February. I’ve always considered myself in pretty good shape from all the running I do and, at the time, was teaching a weight-lifting class at another gym. However, within just a month of doing Body Pump just 1-2 days a week, I noticed visible changes in my body. Within 3 months, I had definition in places I never had before, particularly my hamstrings and shoulders, which I loved. I was hooked. In addition to Body Pump, I started taking Body Flow and became a 100% believer in Les Mills programs. The Les Mills programs motivate me like no other group ex class has before and I always leave feeling like I got a great workout and I’ve developed many friendships from going to Body Pump so I especially looked forward to going.
As I learned more about RPM from other instructors, the program sounded very similar to how I try to develop my cycle classes: music driven, challenging but accessible, and capable of delivering results. I have spent hours listening to music to determine the best part of the songs for climbing, for sprinting, for recovery based on the musicality and beats of the music. Oh hey, that’s very similar to the RPM program.
RPM uses the music to enhance workouts and motivate, not simply as background music. Les Mills also works with instructors to become GREAT instructors, and I was ready to step up my game as a instructor and really get to a place where I could help change peoples’ lives. RPM delivered on all aspects for me: music, coaching, connecting and results. And they even make it easier for me since I don’t have to spend hours and money on iTunes, building my own playlists.
How does the RPM certification process work?
First you have to have a gym to “sponsor” you; it doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily pay for your training but they are the gym that is licensed with Les Mills and will (likely) hire you to teach. You can only sign up for the training if the gym you select on the website approves you to take the training. Les Mills does this to prevent their program quality from getting diluted. They want to know which gyms they are working with to know that everything is being delivered the way they intend.
Next, you’ll attend a 2-day training (8 hours each day) for RPM (it’s longer for some programs). On the 2nd day, you have to teach an entire track from memory (I was assigned the Mountain Climb). So, you’ll spend the entire night after Day 1 memorizing your assigned track.
If you don’t pass the initial 2-day training, you may just have to work on certain aspects over the next month or so until you do pass. Passing is determined by a number of criteria, including the presentation of your assigned track. Or you may have to retake the entire 2 day training. You’ll know at the end of Day 2 which pass level you fall into. If you do pass the training, you’ll then work on memorizing the entire choreographed workout (typically 9 songs). Within 90 days, you must send in a DVD of you teaching the entire release and mail it to Les Mills, where they will evaluate your knowledge of choreography, technique, coaching, etc. If you pass, you’ll be ready to teach on your own!
Did you enjoy the training?
YES YES YES. It was incredible. We were lucky to have an RPM trainer who lives in Winston-Salem so many of us knew him beforehand. He is so inspiring. He made me want to be the type of instructor who makes workouts fly by, that are fun, that get people coming back and change lives. We all know those kind of instructors; but that doesn’t happen overnight. Our trainer was so encouraging and when giving feedback for improvement, he never made anyone feel bad or embarrassed (even when watching video of ourselves!). The program itself is great, but I feel our trainer made the weekend…dare I say…magical. 😉
Other notes if you are going to a training:
- I took 3 changes of clothing each day. Having 4 would have been nice to change into dry clothes at the end of each day.
- Pack a lunch – you only get 30 minutes to eat and you’ll want that time to study your assigned track.
- Bring a small DVD player if you can. But it’s not necessary.
- Bring snacks. You’ll want more food than a usual day because you work hard and you work all day.
- Your butt willhurt. Nothing you can do about it.
- Have a good attitude! Be friendly! Get to know the others in the training. It’ll be more fun that way.
Phew! Catch all that?
Does your gym have Les Mills programs? If so, what’s your favorite? If not, does it interest you or does the “repetitive”/choreographed nature turn you off?
*Note: This write up includes my personal thoughts and explanation of Les Mills and RPM from my experience. I do not formally represent them and they are not paying me for this glowing endorsement.