Your Class Was Great But Your Music Sucks!

During a number of my previous presentations, I referred to an interaction with a rider after class who told me my music sucked. A few of you have asked about it so I thought I would give you the full scoop and the lessons learned. A while back I was asked to sub a couple of classes for another instructor. It was at a club that I used to teach at and still knew a number of the members. I always like teaching at this particular club because the riders throw out some good energy and appreciate a structured workout—my specialty. Since I was going to be covering both the 9:30 am and 12:30 pm time slots, I decided to bring my laptop and camp out in the lounge area between classes to get some work done.


  1. I play a some of ICA songs and a lot of euro songs….licensing in Australia means I have had to search hard for PPCA free tunes but when people comment on my music I simply say there are 40 other classes of Les Mills RPM they can go to and enjoy the same 12 songs…I’ll keep to my game at my class.. I haven’t had a complaint for a while i must say.

  2. I always bring a prepared printout placed (on a clipboard with a pen attached) by the door of my class that lists genres of music, rather than artist or song selections. Make an announcement that you are interested in what kind of tunes they need to get them through the tough parts of the ride. Then mention that while we all have different tastes, you will try and blend a playlist that we can all enjoy. It works really well. They actually line up either before or after class to make their selections. Gym members would even hand me disks in the hallway and were so excited that I cared. The point is, you immediately have a tally of the type of tunes your class likes…in my case Alternative Rock. No one in my five years of teaching has ever checked Electronic! Isn’t that funny? I have quite an assortment now …over 200 prepared rides and can easily ask a class I am subbing for during warm-up to raise their hand when I say the genre of music they like and slide the corresponding playlist and ride cues right in! Smiles all around!

  3. Music, ah…music. If it wasn’t for music, these classes would teach themselves. haha

    1. Meaning…profiles are easy compared to finding the perfect song. (debatable…I know) Searching for this perfect song to match emotion and desired intensity is the time-consuming struggle of every instructor. Its has been a siren call many times in my 17 years of teaching.

  4. I always say to my class to suggest music they might want and just give me a weeks notice. Otherwise I make the choices although I try to cater it to the normal class mix (young, older, etc)

    1. Wayne, That is a great way of staying in touch with your class and letting them know that their input matters. I love it.

      I used to do something called rider’s choice where once per month I asked a rider to bring me 60 minutes of music on a CD and I would teach it that day. I got a full spectrum from those who put together a serious playlist to some that tried everything to mess me up by including songs like the Chicken Dance and TV show themes. It was a ton of fun though 🙂

  5. This is probably my greatest source of insecurity as a teacher. I can coach thru the physiologic pieces, but when she pops in her earbuds because she likes me but hates the music, it’s frustrating. I use a diversity of styles, but at some point it isn’t about the music anymore. Sometimes consumerism overshadows our ability to be gracious and patient w something that we don’t “like.”

    1. Heidi, I agree on all fronts. The music is important, but it is NOT the workout. And don’t get me started on consumerism….. A woman put headphones on in one of my classes a few weeks ago (right next to my bike…really?!?!) I walked up to her and simply said, “headphones off”. She asked me why and I told her, “I am responsible for the safety of everyone in my class. A big part of that is communication. It is essential I have your undivided attention so you can hear and follow my instruction.” She removed the headphones. I thought she would leave buy stayed and has come back since (without her headphones).

      1. Tom, I have used almost the same words to ask someone to remove their headphones, and a couple of times the reply has been, “Oh, I can hear you.” ?! So then I had to come up with the backup reply (to overcome what was probably a look of utter shock on my face), which is, “If you want to ride to your own music, the room is available when there isn’t a class going on.”

        I mean, really. I know different instructors have different levels of comfort and tolerance for this (and cell phones) but I’m very sensitive to it.

  6. I got a similar reaction when I played what I thought was an awesome tune suggested by Tom, a Skrillex number called “First of the Year.” Woman said she liked my workouts but didn’t find the electronic music “relaxing.” (I felt like telling her Yoga-TM was down the hall). I was rattled when told this, so I checked in with a fair sampling of others, and was told to stick to my guns. You gotta like what you play to be motivated. That said, I throw on other stuff for “balance.” Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Thanks Mark. I certainly agree that we as instructors much be motivated by our music otherwise our energy will be lacking. I agree with you, Dubstep…relaxing? “Lady, you walked into the wrong class.”

  7. Author

    As Bill Cosby said, “I don’t know the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”

    This quote really applies to music in our classes, doesn’t it? I too lean towards more electronic (as is pretty evident in my profiles) but try really hard to offer a variety of genres in many of my classes. Since some profiles demand a specific style (i.e. the more introspective profiles), if I focus more on world/ambient/downtempo in one class, then I make sure the very next class is heavy on rock and indie and other more mainstream music.

    You’ve just got to make sure there is an overall balance.

    But I draw the line at Justin Bieber…

    1. I draw the line right through Justin Bieber…..

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