How fast are you going?

You may feel the need, the need for speed – but it doesn’t necessarily equate to the increased intensity you may be seeking, as Stephen Parker explains.


Increasing the music speed in your freestyle group exercise class increases intensity. The faster you move, the more energy is required, and therefore the more calories you burn. Which can only be a good thing – right?

Well, it’s not quite as simple as that. As instructors, we need to be aware that moving too fast will require a reduction in the range of motion and the lever length in order to maintain correct timing. This results in the recruitment of fewer muscle fibres, which has the consequence of actually decreasing the intensity.

Typically a HiLo class is taught with a music speed starting at 140BPM and finishing at approximately 155BPM. Low impact moves will feel more comfortable at a music speed of 145BPM and high impact moves are best suited to 155BPM.
With the current influence of dance-based moves in HiLo classes, you will occasionally need to use a slower music speed to allow for the essence of the move to shine through. Depending on your choreography, it would be acceptable to use a music speed of 135BPM in a HiLo class in order to accommodate more intricate arm lines, safer torso movements such as body rolls, and leaps or jumps.

As you plan your HiLo choreography, consider how each move will feel for your participants and don’t be guided by music speed alone. Sometimes, using a slightly lower BPM will give greater results and allow for better execution of moves.
The following choreography is an example of a HiLo class using a music speed of 138BPM.

Move Counts Lead Leg Direction Base Move

Box step



On the spot

V step

Step tap


R & L



Knee shuffle





Chasse pivot





Chasse pivot



To the back


Kick ball change


L & R


Step touch


Learning Curves

Template 1: Base moves – marches8 and repeater knee

Teach single leg, then double leg curl, visual preview step knee, then repeater knee

Drop in 8 marches, repeater knee

Visual preview 1 mumbo 4 marches, repeater knee

Layer box step over mumbo, 4 marches, repeater knee

Add impact and arm lines to box step, 4 marches, repeater knee

Box step, layer step tap, repeater knee

Box step, step tap, 1 knee 6 marches

Box step, step tap, 1 knee 4 marches, rock back

Box step, add on arm lines to step tap, 1 knee 4 marches, rock back

Box step, step tap, 1 knee layer shuffle, rock back.


Template 2: Base moves – 8 step touch

Drop in 8 marches, 4 step touch

Layer direction fwd/bwd on 8 marches, 4 step touch

Layer rhythm chasse fwd/bwd, 4 step touch

Layer chasse fwd pivot, chasse to the back pivot

Chasse fwd pivot, chasse to the back pivot, visual preview kick ball change.


Stephen Parker
With a background in classical dance, Stephen has been in the fitness industry for 16 years and currently holds the position of group fitness manager at Fitness First Darlinghurst, NSW. Having competed successfully in Sport Aerobics, he now focuses on helping fellow instructors develop their freestyle teaching skills. Stephen is co-presenter and assessor for the Elite Group Exercise (Certificate III) course for Network, and is committed to doing all he can to see more freestyle group exercise on club timetables.

Stephen's outfit courtesy of