Ask the Expert: What is RPM and How Does it Relate to BPM?

Recently on the ICA Member Facebook Group, the question about bpm vs rpm came up and I thought it would be a good idea to resurrect and rewrite this post from 2012.


I received this question from a new ICA member who has recently gotten her certification:

I don’t quite understand RPMs. I’ve been an instructor for a few months now, putting together workouts, but I haven’t had much guidance other than trying to see what other instructors are doing by going to their classes. But I want to understand what I’m doing. I know what BPMs are for the songs, and if I can use those alone, that would be fine. So, for starters, I’m just confused now when I read about the number of RPMs…how does that relate to BPMs in the music?
This is actually a common confusion among new instructors, but I’ve also seen veteran instructors who don’t understand the relationship between bpm and rpm. It is not covered in-depth in most certifications.

Let’s define rpm and discuss how to use it indoors. We will return to bpm in a moment.


  1. If I don’t feel like counting the BPM, I use the site

    1. Author

      or use the app LiveBPM. I can find the bpm of songs faster than looking it up online! 😉 Just let it “listen” to the song for a few seconds and voila! There’s your bpm.

  2. this is great…I’ve read various explanations on forums and such, but definitely the best overview and definitely will have more ways to use for my classes…will be very helpful…I’ve been trying out app beauTunes…does seem a bit more seamless…and has other nice features for cleaning up iTunes library as well…

  3. When choosing songs from itunes, do they tell you bpm on their songs? I know beatpro does!

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