One of the the key elements to a great group fitness experience is what you hear. Of course, the instructor’s voice is key because she is giving you direction and, ideally, encouragement. But beneath the instructor’s voice is the music. The right music keeps your heart pumping and makes you excited to keep moving. The best music even makes you want to dance a little! I am extremely picky about how I build my group fitness music playlists. I thought I’d share the guidelines I use when selecting songs. Whether you are a group fitness instructor or just want to build a playlist for your gym or at-home workouts, these guidelines are a great start.
- Minimum BPM of 120. Lagree fitness classes are specifically tailored for songs using 120-140 bpm (beats per minute). I like 140 bpm the best.
- No profanity. You might like profanity, or just not mind it, but as a group fitness instructor you have to consider your clients. For people who have suffered mental or emotional abuse, profanity is often a trigger. Respect those whose backgrounds you do not know and avoid profanity in music. If you love a song that contains cursing, try searching for the “Radio Edit” version of it where the profanity is bleeped out.
- No offensive lyrics. This is different from profanity. Anything that talks about women being used as objects is out, for me. Similarly, I avoid overt and repetitive mentions of infidelity or name-calling.
- No gaps in the beat. A lot of fancy DJ’s like to create maximum impact for their beat by incorporating a period of silence and then “dropping the beat” periodically throughout the song. Or having a dreamy no-drums singing transition halfway into the song (in the bridge). This doesn’t work for group fitness. If I’m making people suffer through 90 seconds of sit-ups and the beat suddenly stops for 5 seconds in the last 10 seconds, I lose about half the class. Not cool. Songs like that get the “thumbs down”. Sorry, DJs!
- No long periods of rapping. Too much rhythmic talking and you, the instructor, are going to be competing with the rapper for attention because you are both talking.
- No excessive repetition. I really liked one song that had a long period of some guy yelling, “Give it up! Give it up! Give it up!” or something to that effect. Maybe 2 repetitions is fine, but more than 5 seconds of the same phrase with the same inflection is going to become annoying fast. I have had clients comment on repetitions that I didn’t even notice when I built the playlist. Listen for those beforehand.
- Listen to the ENTIRE song before putting it on the playlist. I’ve found some songs with really cool beats and added them to my playlist without listening to the whole thing, only to find later that they contained one of the elements I have described as best to avoid (most often offensive lyrics).
That’s what works for me, so far! For the record, my favorite “app for that” is Spotify Premium. Totally worth the $10 per month.