How I Build a Group Fitness Music Playlist

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.

How I Build A Group Fitness Music Playlist | Conscientious Confusion

  • 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.

What do you think? What makes a group fitness music playlist great to you? Any tips to add?

An Afternoon of Music: The Sense-able Gym Celebrates 6 months!

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be teaching kids yoga classes beginning in 2014 at The Sense-able Gym in Garland (near Richardson)! We’ve written about The Sense-able Gym on Dallas Moms Blog in the past, and the kids and I were able to visit last month to check it out. While it is geared to specifically assist children with sensory needs, it’s a wonderful play space for kids at all levels of learning. My kids LOVE the “Quiet Room” which is dark and has wonderful lighted toys, a music keyboard with shapes that you can jump on, and a light-reactive touching wall. I could go on and on, but I want to tell you today that The Sense-able Gym is celebrating their 6 month anniversary with a FREE special event THIS Saturday, November 23 from 3-5pm including demos and Q&A with myself, the music therapist, and a kids karate teacher. There will be sign-ups for all of our classes available and you can ask us any questions. Be sure to also follow Sense-able Gym on Facebook for updated info and their new open play hours.

The Sense-ableGym - Afternoon Of Music, November 23 from 3-5pm



4 MORE Things I’ve Learned from HipHop Music

4 MORE things I have learned from hip-hop dance music

It’s been over a year now that I’ve been teaching Lagree fitness classes to music at 140bpm or above, where I listen to far too much hip-hop dance music than is good for me. So it is time for another installment of Things I Have Learned From Hip-Hop Dance Music, you can find Part 1 here. This is Part 2, which is composed mostly of observations and speculation.

1. Where are the girls/boys at?

The person “singing” this song seems to have one of a few possible issues:

a) Is such a thorough third wave feminist that they do not see gender at all (much like some people “do not see color”) and is having to ask everyone around them for their specific gender identification in order to address them by the correct pronoun.

b) Is in a club setting so dark that they cannot find or distinguish between girls and boys. This could understandably be further complicated by androgynous dress and hairstyle, see “a”, above.

c) Is blind.

2. Party! Party! Party!

Again, a few possibilities exist:

a) Noun. We are being warned about a spontaneously occurring, unforeseen, incoming party. Look out! PARTY COMING!

b) Verb. The implied “you”. (You) party! Hey you, over there: Party! No, really, DO IT! Right now! YOU HAVE TO! YOU MUST! PARTY!

3. “Over there” or “Over here”

Now that I think about it, this is probably the answer to #1. Where is everyone? Over there. Over there on the dance floor. There she is, over there. Where we at? We over here! Where do you need to be? You need to be over here. Why? Because you’re over there right now and we over here. Obviously.

4. Put your hands in the air.

I’m pretty sure this one was heavily influenced by the deodorant/antiperspirant lobby. According to the lyrics of most songs, you are not really having a good time until your hands are in the air. One song that I am thinking of, in particular, just repeats it over and over: Put your hands in the air! Put your hands in the air! (Bonus if you do it even though “you just don’t care”). If you are just “gettin’ down”, your good time is not complete. You need to both get down AND put your hands in the air. I need someone to draw me a picture of this one so I can fully understand how these two things work together. Or have I just described twerking?


6 Things I have Learned from HipHop music

Being a fitness instructor who teaches class to songs between 120-140 bpm, I hear a lot of hip-hop dance music nowadays. As I have been exposed to many more hours of hip-hop dance music than ever before in my life, I have learned a few things that I feel compelled to share with you.

  1. One wears a Speedo in order to “tan [the] cheeks”. I had no idea this is why fellows wore the tiny suits, but now that I think about it, it does make sense. I mean, how else are you going to tan that area? Still, it’s unfortunate that they have to do it where I am forced to see them.
  2. “My girl has a big ol’ booty, Your girl has a little booty”. In this scenario, the big booty is preferred. When the singer points out that your girl has a little booty, that’s not a compliment to her, as one might originally think. Please do not tell my clients this, as they are paying money to make their bootys smaller.
  3. The singer believes that you should prefer him as a suitor over his competitor because he has more money. Regardless of the fact that he is addressing a woman as a “ho” and already talking about the other women he is simultaneously entertaining, the money really will make up for all that. Girl.
  4. If you want a man to go crazy, drop it down low. I am not 100% sure how this is done, but it’s clear that it’s typically done on a dance floor. One day I should be capable of a move like this since I’ve really been working on my thigh and glute strength, right? I believe I could find examples of how in music videos.
  5. Mick Jagger is an icon of sexiness even though he looks like this:
    photo from 102.3Bob

    I know this because MULTIPLE songs refer to him as such. I never would have guessed.

  6. Personal responsibility is overrated. Many of the songs refer to waking up not know where you are, who this person is, where various articles of clothing and electronics are…NO BIG DEAL. Let’s do it again tomorrow night!! On the other hand, it sounds like if you followed one of these singers around, throughout the evening you could accumulate a good deal of expensive cast-off items that they’ll never miss.
I know there are more than just these nuggets of wisdom buried in hip-hop dance music. I’ll let you know what else I find out as the weeks go by.
What am I missing? Have you learned valuable life lessons from hip-hop dance music?

Writer’s Workshop: Quote

“Smile, like you’ve got nothing to prove. No matter what you might do, there’s always someone out there cooler than you. 
I know that’s hard to believe, but there are people you meet – they’re into something that is too big to be expressed through their clothes.”
– Ben Folds, “There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You”

If I had one song lyric to share with my kids, this would be it.
True, the song also includes reference to beer and uses several curse words, but I think the message is important. Also, Ben Folds is brillant.

I had a pretty good high school experience overall, not because I was popular (I was NOT), but because I didn’t care. I think I learned about halfway in that there’s always someone cooler than me.

“Now that I’ve got the disease, in a way I’m relieved
Cause’ I don’t have to stress about it like you do.
I might just get up and dance or buy some acid washed pants
If you don’t care then you got nothing to lose”

It is a huge relief not to do things because you wonder how it’s going to look to your peers, or how it will affect your social standing. Now, to authority figures and people who were my actual friends, it’s always been a different story. I am definitely a people pleaser in that regard.

Then again, that’s what makes this song remain important, even now!

I need to remember this as much as ever now that I’m a mom. I’m never going to be the coolest mom or the hippest, or whatever. My children will most likely not do calculus at 3 years old, or even read early or be super artistic.

I hope that they are original, and that they don’t fear the opinions of people who don’t matter.

Rock on, Ben Folds.

This post is a part of the Bloggy Mom’s Writer’s Workshop.