5 Simple Tricks for a Killer Group Fitness Playlist

Are you new to group fitness instruction? Or are you a seasoned veteran? No matter how many years of group fitness training you’ve done, you’re going to want to read this.

As trainers, there are so many things we have to think about before class… preparing the room with equipment, the layout of the class, the intensity level, and of course, remembering all the key instructions. Your playlist should be something that you can throw on and know it will get your audience in the zone.

  1. Know your audience.

What audience will you be training? Teens, young adults, or older individuals? What type of music do you imagine they listen to in their cars? This is the most important factor to address when beginning your playlist curation. If there is a mix of ages and demographics, try to stick to songs you can imagine a variety of people would enjoy.

Ex. If I was making a playlist for middle aged and young adults in Los Angeles, I would make sure to include some current hit songs and classic songs that I know all ages would enjoy.

2. Keep it fresh and CLEAN.

No matter the age, no matter the demographic, it is always considered disrespectful (and sometimes against company policy) to play songs with offensive words. Whatever you do, try to screen the music beforehand to make sure it’s appropriate. The last thing you want to do is offend someone, as it could be their first (and possible last) class with you!

Ex. If I was making a playlist for teens who I know enjoy hip-hop and rap music, I would search for ‘Clean Rap Music’ on Spotify, Apple Music, or wherever you create playlists. Tip: there are lots of pre-made ‘Clean’ Playlists on Spotify, all you have to do is search for them in the search bar.

3. Understand the ebb & flow of class.

Although this can differ slightly if you’re teaching yoga or a bootcamp, there is a universal, natural flow of class including warm-up, main portion of work consisting of some high intensity and some low intensity, and eventually a cool down. Try to create your playlist using BPM (beats per minute) to gently increase and decrease music intensity during these portions of class.

  • Warm-up and cool down: Use songs with 80-115 BPM
  • Low intensity or mat work: Use songs with 115-140 BPM
  • HIIT portion of class: Use songs with 140-175 BPM

You can check how many BPM your song has using this BPM counter.

4. Song change = time check!

You’ve taken all this time to pick your songs to naturally match the energy and intensity of class, so why not use the music to help you! This is one of my favorite tricks as a group trainer. If you create your routine based on the playlist, you can match the specific sections of your workout to different songs.

Ex. I allotted two songs to my warm-up routine. Once those songs are over, I know I have to move on to the next portion of class. The third song has a higher BPM and that signals me to get the class moving to the core section.

5. Follow other instructors’ playlists.

Learn from your fellow trainers! We are all each other’s best teachers. Try going to a new group fitness class and observe their style. You will not only learn from another instructor’s cues and routine, but exposing yourself to new music that you might not personally listen to will help in your new playlist discoveries.

Ex. If I train at a group class and I enjoyed the playlist, I make a point to introduce myself to the instructor and ask to follow their playlist. Don’t be shy… who doesn’t love a compliment?

No matter where you are in your group training journey, I hope this helps you feel empowered to create some new killer playlists that you and your clients will love.

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