This is post one in a multi-post series that will explain how to use and select music to compliment your class. As the series progresses, I will be sure to include the links to the previous posts so that the entire series can be found in the latest post.
As an instructor, music can become the most challenging part of any indoor class; however it can be one of the most important parts of the class. I have heard it said that we are not DJs on a bike, we are cycling coaches. While I may agree with the sentiment, we can not underestimate the importance of music in the delivery of a class. You could structure the most ideal training program with the very best designed drills, but if your music is off and does not match the work, chances are very good that the class will disappoint your riders. While we believe that the class focus and design should be well thought out before the music is added, the addition of music to your drills will truly make or brake your class.
What is it that makes the selection of music so crucial; music is a one of the most powerful mediums. It can facilitate communication that goes beyond words, enables meanings to be shared, and promotes the development and maintenance of individual, group, cultural and national identities. Music can alter movements, moods and emotions. Few other items that you come in contact with can effect such a wide range of human functions and feelings.
So, how do we begin with the so important task of selecting the right music for your class? It all begins with belief. You must believe in your music and your playlist or your class will not believe in it either. While there are seemingly endless types and styles of music and everyone in your class can have a different preference, it is your ability to believe and sell the ride that will matter. To make it a little easier, if you incorporate some basic principles, you will succeed more times than not:
Know Your Demographic
The demographics of an indoor cycling class can be affected by many factors including your club”™s location (city vs. suburbs), day of the week and time of day that your class is offered, and if your class is designed around a specific focus or theme. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this principle is to take the time to learn what your riders like by simply asking them. You will never be able to please everyone all of the time, but people appreciate being listened to and will respect you if they believe your are doing your best to give everyone something they enjoy. Please, remember to remind your people that not all great music is great indoor cycling music and that it may take a few weeks to get their requests into one of your rides.
For Foundational classes (beginner), remember the overall focus is to provide a fun environment for people to gain some initial cycling fitness or possibly just fitness in general. With the exception of the warm-up (and possibly the cool-down/stretch), working songs should be music your riders will recognize, and maybe even sing along to. While the beat matching of the ride is still critical, you should take extra time with this group to be sure the music is fun and will keep them coming back for more.
For intermediate and advanced classes, it is critical that the music be beat-matched and of similar intensity to the work that you are asking of the riders. When we ask more of the riders, this also demands more of us as instructors. We need to put in the extra time to find “just the right music” that will not only support our drills, but it will also enhance them. Ideally, the riders should be able to close their eyes, or look away from the cycle display, and still hold the proper cadence by focusing on the beat and feel of the music. Aside from the beat, the intensity is also important: an epic climb demands an epic musical work to help us reach the summit.
One of our foundations at Cycling Fusion is that songs used for the first warm-up segment should NOT have vocals. The warm-up is where you spend a good portion of the time introducing yourself, the purpose of the class and give various instructions such as safety guidelines, proper position and how to gauge the level of effort. It is important that your voice be the only one heard in the cycling studio during the warm-up so riders have a clear understanding of expectations and how to approach the class.
In the next post, we will talk about Pulse, BPM and RPM and how using them will enhance your ride and heighten the student”™s experience.