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How to Select the Best Music for Your Indoor Cycling Classes

 Find out how to choose the best music for your spin class.

The Best Motivation for Your Cycling Session: A Killer Playlist

While teaching indoor cycling classes over the past 10 years, I have come to the conclusion that the beats and character of the music that an instructor plays in class is the single most important part of a cycling session. Without the beat, I am lost and so are the members in class. The beats of the music will allow you to coach to a rhythm that will ultimately design the ride throughout an hour-long class. A fast beat will take you into a sprint while a slower beat might have you into a seated and/or standing hill climb.

I'm often asked how I find the music for all of my cycling classes. Ever since I traveled to Nice, France to compete in the 2008 Ironman I found myself falling in love with dance music and house music. This type of music combined with lyrics is the new way people are listening to music. In the United States it is becoming the hottest phenomenon ever since hip hop hit the stage more than twenty years ago. I love music and cycling so much that I never find it to be a chore when searching for new ways to guide my members in class with new sounds and beats. In any given day I will go to Radio Metro (Australian House Music Online Station) and put on my headphones and just listen to the beats and pick up what I like to play.

Music set playlists that some world class DJ's around the world have mixed together can also be a great way to keep your class going and make the hour long class seem like it's flying by. However, make sure that you are taking some rest throughout the play-lists because it's easy to get caught up and burn out when your only 20 minutes into the ride. I like 3-5 minute songs because it offers the best workout to rest ratio in between songs. Either way you will get the most energy out of your members while playing very high energetic electronic big room house music! If you don't believe me then check out the latest news in the Wall Street Journal about the rise of house music as well as one of my favorite DJ's and the #1 DJ in America right now: Kaskade!

5 Steps  to Download the Latest, Best Beats in the World:

  1. Buy a subscription to Sirius XM radio and listen to channels 51 (BPM Radio) and 52 (Electric Area) while working around the house, at work, or riding in the car. The next best station is 105.3 Radio Metro (Australian Gold Coast) Internet radio and it's FREE :) Keep in mind that the process of finding new, fun, exciting music is the longest most tedious of all 5 steps because you have to take the time and actually listen to the beats come together :)
  2. Write down the name of the track of the song as well as the artist and keep them on one sheet of paper to remind yourself later when you look them up online. If the station you are listening to does not give you the name of the track and/or artist try to remember some of the lyrics and type them up later into google to find the song.
  3. Type the name of the track of the song and/or artist into YouTube search to find the song and listen to make sure you have the right track. Refrain from songs that have bad language and find songs that are 'edited' and 'clean.' Some members in your class might get offended by some of the lyrics if your not careful. (Trick: I like to put in the name of the song and artist and write 'mash-up' and/or 'vs' at the end of it in the search column to get a really unique sound of putting two or three songs 'mashed' up together. This will create a really new beat that no one has ever heard before!)
  4. Go to iTunes or Napster and find the song you are looking for and click to buy.
  5. Stick a blank CD into your computer and drag the song over to the play/burn section of your music files and wait a few minutes. Click the 'Burn' button on your media playeyr and drag your new song on to your CD that you want to burn it on. You can burn up to 80 minutes of new music on to your blank recordable CD. You will probably end up spending hours on iTunes and other favorite music sites, browsing new music or piecing together the perfect play-list. You'd be surprised to know how much time, work and love goes into each one. I usually try and get a solid list of songs together for class and then try and add 4-8 new songs a week to my play-list and mix it up so my members are not listening to the same songs week after week. By using YouTube and the other popular sites I have mentioned you might even start to play music and tunes that have not even been released yet. It's very exciting to get music before anyone else can!

There is no right way to go about choosing music for your spin class. I don't pretend to be an expert but because so many people have asked about and commented on the music that I use in my classes I thought I would share how I go about getting my music and putting my classes together. Over the past 10 years I have accumulated quite the audience and buzz throughout the South Bay and L.A. I have a wide range of ages in my classes, but I would say the average is around 20-40. The best thing to do is play the music you like and don't worry too much how your members will like the music.

The most important thing is to be excited and energetic while teaching your own cycling classes and if you are not into the music it will be very hard to teach an exhilerating heart-pumping workout that everyone else will like. Not everyone will love your music or the style in which you teach but if you do the best you can with the music you have you will be very popular over time. People often feel free to request a certain song or even create CD's for me with their favorite songs that would be 'great for cycling.' They know that if I like it enough I will probably play the songs. If it doesn't work for me though, I'm not going to play them. After class, if members have feedback and requests, try to be open for new and improved ways to make your class the best experience for everyone. However, try to not let one or two people dictate what you're playing throughout the class. Keep your identity and your style as a cycling instructor your own. I tend to use mainstream music in my play-lists and usually only one or maybe two new different beats per class to change it up.

Author Information:

Jack Nunn, Powerhouse FitnessJack created Powerhouse Fitness after winning numerous medals in various events on the international stage. He was a gold medalist in 2007 at the first ever Concept 2 Team Indoor Rowing challenge, held in Essen, Germany. In 2006, he took silver at the Masters Nationals Open Single Event. As a member of the US Rowing National Team from 2001-2004 he placed second at the 2003 Pan American Trials in double sculls and had an outstanding 2002 that saw him claim a gold medal in Senior 8 and a silver medal in the Elite Double at the US Nationals. He was also a silver medalist in 2001 in the Nations Cup (now the U23 World Championships) 8 in Ottenshiem, Austria. Find out more.