A thoughtfully curated music playlist is often the best complement to any type of workout. From barre to TRX, to cycling and Vinyasa yoga, a studio’s music choice can be used as a motivator and even a powerful marketing tool. We caught up with Lisa Natale, Lead Instructor at LA’s musically-charged cycling studio Beatbike, to get the scoop on how teachers and studio owners can use music to inspire students and gain a loyal following. Check out our tips below for creating engaging playlists that build your studio’s reputation for top tier tunes.

Natale says Beatbike instructors make a point of tailoring the music to each stage of the student’s experience. “A playlist is the menu for what the class experience should be,” she says.

First, you’ll want to identify the vibe of the class and how you want students to feel. Is this an after work ride, where people are ready for the weekend and happy hour? Or early morning, when students need to feel energized to take on the day? From there, you can create a playlist that embodies that experience. Often times, it’s about a playlist that takes students on a journey, so the key is identifying how the experience of riders (or yogis, or CrossFitters) evolves during class. For Beatbike, Natale shares that their playlists often,“entail a warm-up, move into the arc of the ride, and finish with either a heroic or soulful crescendo.” Take Natale’s cue as you sequence songs: the order of the tunes is just as important as the songs themselves. Nothing throws off a class like music that feels disjointed or out-of-sync.

Now that you have a rough structure of your playlist, how do you find the songs? Natale sources fresh music by following DJs on Facebook or Soundcloud, as well as scouting trending hits on Spotify. “I also elicit input from my riders.  I love anything with a good beat. That includes 70’s rock, 80’s pop, 90’s hip-hop and anything smoking in the last decade. The key is mixing and matching decades of music to achieve an explosive playlist.”

Explore the idea of themed classes to engage clients: anything from a “battle” of the biggest pop stars (“Rihanna vs. Nicki Minaj,” “Taylor Swift vs. Demi Lovato,” etc.) to straight-up tributes to popular musicians, like a Bruce Springsteen ride or Beyoncé “best hits” class. We also recommend exploring remixes or mash-ups of well-known songs to breathe new energy into old favorites.

Music sharing is a huge aspect of the fitness industry. With sites like Spotify, Pandora and 8tracks, instructors can create, share and swap sounds. Social media is another way to market your studio’s unique voice, exposing new clients and other industry professionals to the vibe and energy of your classes. Beatbike encourages students to follow the studio’s Spotify playlists (which instructors update monthly) and to reach out to teachers with song requests. When instructors find a new beat, they can Tweet it out to their followers as a tease for an upcoming class to get students pumped up ahead of time.

Because music can have such an impact on the workout experience, getting students involved in the playlist creation is a great way to build community and loyalty. While asking for feedback and requests is something most instructors advise, don’t stress about making every single person happy. “Trying to create the perfect playlist is always a challenge for an instructor,” says Natale. “It goes without saying that we will never please every rider in every class. We try to balance the competing demands of originality and familiarity.” Don’t forget that nothing inspires quite like an awesome instructor. If your tunes aren’t hitting their stride this time around, you can always change it for the future—and in the meantime, emulate how you want students to feel through your own leadership and voice.


FOR YOGA: “Cause I’m a Man” by Tame Impala

FOR CYCLING: “Victorious” by Panic! At The Disco

FOR BARRE: “Shine On – Heiko and Maiko’s Gute Laune Edit” by Sunloverz


FOR ROWING: “Like a Friend” by Fakear

FOR PILATES: “Cool,” by Le Youth

FOR DANCE: “Formation” by Beyoncé

FOR BOXING: “Rubble Kings Theme (Dynamite)” by Run The Jewels

Miranda Raimon is a freelance health, wellness and fitness writer who believes that life is a balance of green smoothies and pinot gris. A former yoga studio manager and fitness instructor, helping others live happier and healthier lives is her passion. Miranda is part of our ClassPass Partner Success Team. Follow her adventures on Instagram.