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There are many more ways to categorise music other than ‘fast’ and ‘slow’. A fresh way to organise your music for teaching classes is not by RPM or genre, but by how it makes you feel, says Julz Arney.

A good coach can create a challenging workout, but a great coach is able to motivate participants through the work. As a group exercise instructor, the most universal way to pump up the energy in your class is to play inspiring, motivating music!

Studies have shown that in order to get the most out of your participants, you should use your playlist to your advantage. In a recent study1, researchers asked participants to walk in step with music they were listening to. They found that, despite all of the music they played having a tempo of 130 beats per minute (BPM), the walkers moved slightly faster than 130 BPM when listening to some songs and slightly slower when listening to others. After analysing the music and walking patterns, the researchers found that participants walked faster when they heard ‘activating music’ and slower when ‘relaxing music’ was played. The beats per minute were exactly the same, the only difference was how the music made the participants feel, either activated or relaxed.

For indoor cycling instructors, it’s easy to focus on revolutions per minute (RPM) or riding technique when designing a ride. How fast should you be pedaling? Are you seated or standing? These are appropriate questions to ask when planning a class, but in order to motivate people beyond leg speed, instructors should incorporate songs that add emotion and intensity to the ride.

There are many more ways to categorise music other than ‘fast’ and ‘slow’. A fresh way to organise your music for teaching classes is not by RPM or genre, but by how it makes you feel. Understanding music can help you design a class around intensity and emotion to amplify your riders’ experience. Here are the basic categories every indoor cycling music library should have:

Create your own powerful playlists

Power Music features the innovative ClickMix function, which allows you to create your own custom music mix at your chosen BPM and perfectly 32-count phrased. Plus, PowerMusic also includes the latest FREERIDE indoor cycling compilations from Trax Music, and Schwinn Indoor Cycling series featuring Julz Arney. Network Members receive 10% discount on the entire Power Music range by entering the code AFN10 at the checkout.

  • Prelude/Intermission – Use these songs before and in the middle of work (e.g. warm up, recovery). These tracks can build anticipation and create the sense that something is about to happen, or they can work as a break between two bouts of hard work.
  • Parties – These songs make you want to dance and sing along. Examples include tracks by artists such as Flo Rida and Whitney Houston that most participants just can’t help singing along to.
  • Pop songs – There is a classic verse/chorus predictability in these songs that works perfectly for interval training. Examples include many tunes that you’ll hear in this week’s Top 40!
  • Drivers – The tempo of these songs remains a constant driving force throughout the song. A good example of this type of track is dance remixes of pop songs.
  • Feelers – These songs have the power to really tap into the listeners’ emotions and pull at the heartstrings, whether it be due to the passionate delivery by the singer or the powerful lyrics of the songwriter.
  • Hammers – These songs make you empty the tanks and crush it! Great examples are techno or hard rock tracks.
  • Enders – These are much more than just cool downs. Enders are the way you choose to close out the experience of the ride, perhaps through affirmative or relaxing lyrics.

Organise your music library into these categories. It might take a little time, but once you do, you will be able to plan your classes more effectively. When you hear a song that motivates or inspires you, drop it into one of your new category folders. That way, when you are planning a class, you can determine what you want the stage to feel like and easily pull in a song from that music folder. If you are pressed for time, keep the same ride and just refresh the music for a new feel.

Leman M, Moelants D, Varewyck M, Styns F, van Noorden L, et al. (2013) Activating and Relaxing Music Entrains the Speed of Beat Synchronized Walking. PLoS ONE 8(7): e67932. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067932

Julz Arney
A group fitness instructor with 23 years’ industry experience, Julz has been honoured as Instructor of the Year by CanFitPro and recognised as one of the world’s top three instructors by IDEA. She is the education programs director and lead Master Trainer for Schwinn® Cycling in North America, a master trainer for Indo-Row™, SHOCKWAVE, BOSU®, and Gatorade. A yoga devotee and running addict, she is also a social media and marketing consultant to fitness brands and an author for industry publications.

Julz will be sharing her joyful passion for fitness – and life! – at FILEX 2014. Join her to gain some amazing instructor tips and reinvigorate your teaching:

  • Schwinn Cycling®: It’s all in your head • A1R
  • The EX games (with Amy Dixon) • A2L
  • Schwinn Cycling®: Music to the max • A4Q
  • BOSU® Strong + Stretched (with Amy Dixon) • B1W
  • ShockWave – the most efficient total body workout in the world (team teach) • B2M
  • BOSU® double up, double down (with Greg Sellar) • B3N
  • Schwinn Cycling®: rock stars, preachers and party people (with Amy Dixon) • B5I
  • BOSU® 3D XTREME (with Greg Sellar & Amy Dixon) • C2N
  • PLUS 1-day Pre-Convention workshop: Schwinn Cycling® Instructor Certification

For more information on Julz’ sessions check out where you can also register for the convention or the all-inclusive Gold Pass packages that include access to the essential Business or PT Business summits and breakfast events.


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