Just Push Play? Three Keys To Curating The Next Show-Stopping Fitness Class Playlist

Okay, as a musician and personal trainer myself, I can tell you first-hand that crafting up a solid playlist to keep participants “in the zone” and not “out the door” per se, is much more than just throwing together a few J-Biebs and Ri-Ri tracks and pressing shuffle on the iPod. Read on to find out how the real good Fitness Instructors curate next level playlists that inspire a sheer sweat fest at 6:00am on a Saturday.

This is Fitness Class Playlist Curation 101, let’s do this!

  1. Know your audience
    • If you have an affluent demographic, do you think it’d be wise to play the unedited version of DMX’ “X Gonna Give It To Ya!”? Doubtful. On the other hand, playing hair metal tracks from the 80’s may not sit well with the typical millennial-driven spin classes around town. Knowing who your crowd is makes the process of curation wicked-simple. As long as you have some worldly knowledge and access to some different styles of music that can accommodate the many different types of exercisers (all of which have different tastes in music) you’ll be fine. Here is an old school hip hop playlist I curated with the type of crowd that likes to go out dancing in the club afterwards in mind, you’ll get the idea. 90s hip hop. Sheer gold. 90s Old School Hip Hop Playlist
  2. Pay attention to the tempo
    • The BPM or beats per minute of a song is vital to any fitness space, and is especially important to add to the atmosphere. The speed of your songs generally translates to the speed of your movement. It’s a sub-conscious thing. Nothing ruins a class experience like a love song ballad in the middle of medicine ball burpees. For example, spin classes tend to push between 120-180 BPM as that tempo really sets the body in a good pace for the type of training those classes are known for. Fast-paced, uptempo, sweat-fest. It’s amazing how the body responds to music. Here’s a link to a high octane playlist for you’re next spin, run or interval session. Big Hills, Quick Sprints.
  3.  Use songs to get creative with exercise
    • A lot of people don’t know this one. It’s a big secret, but I have an advantage being a musician – more notably a drummer – and timing and tempo and rhythm is engrained in me as a fitness professional. Music is broken into pieces. Fast choruses, slower verses. The tempo doesn’t change, the feel sure does though and it’s that feel that helps people stay driven in the set. There’s a few really famous tunes that help push exercisers to new thresholds. My personal favourite is known in the athletic community as “Bring Sally Up”. It’s a doozy on the legs in time to Moby’s hit, “Flower”. When you hear “bring sally down” sit in a squat until you hear “bring sally up”. Repeat for the duration of the song.
    • Want to try it yourself? Check the “Bring Sally Up” workout here.

So, as you can see, there’s actually a pretty good relationship between music and exercise programming. If you’d like some more insight to creating a playlist based around your fitness goals or just fun music that pumps you up, please send me a note at mike@mikeschwartz.ca 



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