What keeps clients coming back to your studio? Knowledgeable and personable instructors are important, as are convenient class times and clean spaces. But, the music you and your instructors play can have a significant impact on a class’ popularity. In fact, music — good or bad — can make or break a class.

In many studios, the most common compliment or complaint is about the music selection. If you have great music paired with a well-structured class, clients will want to come back for more.

The Biology of Music and Exercise
For many, the intensity of the workout is in direct relation to the enjoyment and effectiveness of the music. A 2012 study found that participants who cycled to music required seven percent less oxygen to do the same work as cyclists who did not synchronize their movements with background music. Music helps your clients maintain a steady pace, reduce false steps, use less oxygen and decrease energy expenditure while exercising.

There is a connection between the beats per minute (bpm) of a song and its effectiveness as a workout motivator. Tunes with anywhere between 120 bpm and 180 bpm are popular with runners and cyclists. Studies also found that music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort and may even promote metabolic efficiency.

What Type of Music Should You Play?
The challenge for studio owners and fitness instructors is selecting music that provides the most motivation and most enjoyment to the majority of clients.

In a study conducted by Billboard magazine and Spotify, they found most people preferred to listen to rap and hip hop while exercising, but genres varied across activities. Runners preferred to listen to pop and alternative songs, while people who did CrossFit were more into rock and hip hop. The yoga crowd preferred new age and ambient music.

It’s important to take into account the demographics of class participants because the music should match their interests, not yours. Do your classes skew toward people in their early-20s to early-30s or late-50s to mid-60s. Also consider gender — are you teaching mostly women, mostly men or an even mix? If you are unsure how what type of music is popular with your clients, just ask!

A simple, informal survey can make a big impact on the enjoyment — and enrollment — of your classes.

Keep the Beat
Understanding tempo can really help you and your instructors create effective soundtracks for your classes. Match songs to the specific exercises in the class routine based on your desired energy output based on the appropriate tempo. Create playlists of songs that gradually increase in tempo and speed to get muscles warmed up, then slowly decrease in tempo so as to assist in a proper cool-down period.

Variety is Key
One last tip – make sure your instructors change up their playlists frequently. Variety is key to keeping clients motivated by music. Music apps, such as Spotify and Pandora, update weekly workout playlists to keep you clued in about what new songs people are listening to while exercising.


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