4 Steps for a Great Group Exercise Playlist

Create world-class experiences within each class by creating the RIGHT playlist.

Besides the instructor, music can be the biggest motivator in a fitness class. Music has the ability to lift our energy levels, help us push past a wall, and aid in coordinated movements. While some classes don’t move with the beat of the music, an improper playlist can still make a workout seem like it lasts FOREVER.  Don’t make your participants bang their heads against the wall due to poor music selection, go in with a plan and rock it out!

Do you know why many people love pre-choreographed classes?  For some, it is the consistency but for many others it is the knowledge that the music is going to match 100% with the moves and exercises that are going on within each track.  Music makes people want to move, so it is important to give them the right type of playlists for the workout experience.Here are four tips for planning your next class playlist or your own personal workout mix.  Before you jump into the fun of creating playlists though, make sure your music is legit and you are following all music licensing laws as outlined in this article.

  1. Build Off of Your Workout Plan
    Have you designed a workout that alternates between agility drills and slower body weight strength movements? Your music should reciprocate that alternating movements by pairing your agility drills with a quick up-tempo song and your body weight exercises with a slower, yet strong driving beat. Humans naturally move with music, not necessarily on beat, but rather with the feeling evoked by the tune. Don’t expect your crowd to complete speed work to a slow, heavy sounding song.
  2. Variety
    You like 80s rock. Well, guess what? Not everyone agrees with your belief that workouts should only be done to Van Halen (or techno hits and Metallica as Summer discusses here). Your clients will appreciate a lot of variety in your class playlist. In fact, they will think you played their favorite genre of music just for them! I’m not saying you have to enjoy the song on your daily commute, but for 3 minutes in your class, you can totally rock out to some Taylor Swift. Explore other genres. Can’t think of a new genre or artist to add? Ask your class!
  3. Don’t Sound Like the Radio
    Don’t take the easy road and download the top 10 singles list from iTunes each week. Your class participants are probably growing tired of the songs they hear on the radio every day. They hear those songs while driving, while their kids are singing around the house, and at most grocery stores. Give them something new. Remixes, covers, and mash-ups are great ways to use popular songs but present them in a new fashion.
  4. Rock It Out
    As fitness professionals, we spend a lot of time and money on our playlists. Be proud of your work! Listen to it before your class to make sure it is appropriate for the audience and you understand the nuances of the music. Then go in to your classroom, and rock it out!  Enjoy!

Need some help knowing where to get great music that is legal and legit for using in your classes?  Check out our full list of Music Resources here.  Or check out these playlists that our Pro Team and Choreo Freaks have shared.

  • Pilates Pump
  • Power Yoga
  • ZUMBA Highs and Lows
  • Zumba Fitness

Creating a Great Group Exercise Class Playlist

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Jessica H. Maurer

Owner of FIT4MOM Asheville and JHM Fitness

Jessica H. Maurer’s career consists of teaching in collegiate, corporate, and private venues as a certified ACE personal trainer and AFAA group fitness instructor for over 15 years. While her background is in dance, she has found her passion in fitness education, with a concentration in program development and social media. Jessica is the social media and online manager as well as a ghost-writer for several top and well-known fitness personalities. She has designed, created and implemented websites and blogs for large brands, private studios, and individuals. She is a Master Trainer for BOSU, Tabata Bootcamp, Lebert Training Systems, and Barre Above, as well as the co-creator of LOK Fitness, which won SCW Innovative Program of the Year and Up-Coming Presenter of the Year at California Mania 2016. Jessica was recently named Favorite Female Presenter at SCW Atlanta Mania 2017.

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ACE: Certified Personal Trainer
AFAA: Certified Group Fitness Instructor

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4 Steps for a Great Group Exercise Playlist

by Jessica H. Maurer Time to Read: 2 min
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