TRT: Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month with Latin-Themed Indoor Cycling Classes

National Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect time for indoor cycling instructors to infuse a burst of vibrant energy into their classes. One way to honor this rich cultural celebration is by leading a Latin-themed profile with the pulsating rhythms of Latin music. Save hours of your time by using our fabulous ¡Fiesta Latina! profile by Susan Lafond (which you can find here) or create your own using the bucket playlist we have posted for you at the end of this page. We’ve got 300 songs in this playlist and it continues to grow. (Help us expand it even more by listing your favorite Latin songs to use in your cycling classes in the comments.)

Here are a few compelling reasons why indoor cycling studios and instructors should consider embracing this lively theme:

Cultural Appreciation 

National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15, is a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions and diverse cultures of Hispanic communities. Hosting a Latin-themed ride allows instructors and participants to immerse themselves in the infectious beats of Latin music while gaining a deeper appreciation for the cultural heritage behind it. 

Motivation and Engagement 

Latin music has a way of stirring the soul and elevating the spirits of those who listen to it. Incorporating Latin music into your indoor cycling class can infuse new energy, motivation, and enthusiasm into your participants. The rhythms are lively, the melodies are catchy, and the lyrics often tell stories of passion and resilience. While many are in Spanish or Portuguese, there are numerous popular Latin songs either partially or fully in English. These elements can help push riders to give their best and stay engaged throughout the session, perhaps nodding their heads to the catchy tempo.

Inclusivity and Unity 

Hosting a Latin-themed ride during National Hispanic Heritage Month is a way to foster inclusivity and unity within your indoor cycling community. It’s an opportunity for participants from all backgrounds to come together, learn about Latin culture, and celebrate diversity. This shared experience can promote a sense of togetherness and understanding among your riders, emphasizing the importance of embracing different cultures and traditions.

Musical Diversity and Variety

Not all Latin music is created equal! Latin music is a vast and diverse genre that encompasses a wide range of musical styles and rhythms, each with its own unique beats and characteristics. It draws from the rich musical traditions of Latin America, Spain, and the Caribbean, resulting in a vibrant and rhythmic sound that is deeply ingrained in the culture of these regions. 

Below are some key elements of Latin music beats and rhythms. You’ll find elements of these and other styles in all the traditional Latin songs as well as mainstream popular Latin hits. I propose an example of each style, either from its traditional roots or a more mainstream current-day release:

1. Salsa: Salsa music is characterized by its infectious, syncopated rhythms. It typically features a clave pattern, which is a repeating five-beat sequence that forms the backbone of the music. Salsa also incorporates elements of jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms, resulting in a fast-paced, energetic beat that’s perfect for dancing and high-energy workouts. 

Dame Más (Loaded), Spanish Edit, Ricky Martin, 3:53, 200 bpm
This fast-paced salsa track by Ricky Martin will have you pushing at a high cadence of 100 rpm, either in shorter high-intensity intervals or as one 4-minute Zone 4 or Zone 5 effort. 

2. Merengue: Originating in the Dominican Republic, merengue music is known for its driving 2/4 beat. It’s a fast-paced dance style with a consistent rhythm that’s easy to follow. Merengue rhythms are often created using instruments like the tambora drum and accordion, creating an uplifting and celebratory atmosphere. 

Vagabundo, Sebastián Yatra, 3:35, 127 bpm
From Spotify: “Latin Grammys recipient Sebastián Yatra is a multi-platinum Colombian artist, chart-topping and genre-bending singer, songwriter, and bilingual multi-instrumentalist. His music leads with passion, his words evoke emotion, and his mellifluous voice melts hearts.” Well, OK then—sign me up! This song with a merengue rhythm is perfect for a moderate climb. 

3. Cumbia: Cumbia is a music style, originally from Columbia, known for its distinctive 2/4 beat with a prominent snare drum. It incorporates elements of indigenous, African, and Spanish music, resulting in a mesmerizing rhythm that’s perfect for dancing. This El Pais article explains that few musical genres express the Latino heart as well as cumbia. This style of music has variations across Latin America, each with its unique flavor.

Que Calor, Pibes Chorros, 3:45, 84 bpm
This could be one of the most interesting songs you will have ever played in your cycling classes. Use it as a warm-up, an extended recovery, or anywhere you need a slightly toned-down effort. From El Pais: “Few groups are as original as Los Pibes Chorros, who successfully exported the hyperlocal Argentine cumbia villera style beyond its borders, despite lyrics filled with references to the illegal Argentina underground world of the late 1990s. “Qué calor” crossed borders, styles, and ideologies to become a standard in Latino weddings and parties with the dancers all waving their arms high above their heads.” 

4. Samba: Samba is a vibrant and lively music and dance style that originates from Brazil, particularly associated with the carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro. Samba music is characterized by its fast-paced, syncopated rhythms with a 2/4 time signature. The beat is often propelled by percussion instruments such as the surdo drum, tamborim, and pandeiro, creating an infectious groove that’s perfect for high-energy workouts. Samba’s distinctive beats and lively melodies will infuse your indoor cycling class with a burst of energy and a taste of Brazilian carnival spirit. 

Um Dia Qualquier, Skank, 4:52, 93 bpm
A modern samba infused with alternative ska punk and dancehall—how’s that for a blend of styles? This track by a popular Brazilian band is so much fun you’ll have to resist dancing on the bike! It makes for a great working flat at almost any intensity. 

5. Bossa Nova: Hailing from Brazil, bossa nova came from samba and is characterized by its smooth and relaxed groove. (This article explains the differences between bossa nova and samba.) It typically features a gentle, syncopated beat with a prominent use of acoustic guitar and soft percussion. Bossa nova rhythms are known for their soothing and sophisticated quality, making them suitable for recovery or cool-down. 

Girl from Ipanema, Stan Getz, Astrud Gilberto, João Gilberto, 2:47, 130 bpm.
Arguably, the most famous bossa nova song in the world is “Girl from Ipanema.” What a perfect way to sign off your Latin-themed ride with this bossa nova classic! There are dozens of versions to be found of varying tempos and lengths. Do a search on Spotify for other bossa nova tracks. 

6. Reggaeton: A more recent addition to the Latin music scene, reggaeton blends elements of hip-hop and dancehall with Latin rhythms. It’s known for its strong, driving beat that often incorporates a dembow rhythm, characterized by a syncopated kick drum and snare drum pattern. Reggaeton’s catchy, urban-infused beats are perfect for indoor cycling classes. Reggaeton tempo is most often 90–100 bpm, ideal for warm-ups, recoveries, fast flats, and high-intensity, high-cadence intervals for the most energetic tracks.

At the moment, multi-Grammy award winner Bad Bunny is one of the most famous reggaeton artists in the world.

Me Porto Bonito, Bad Bunny, 2:58, 92 bpm
This song will find its way into a Latin playlist of mine as a recovery song. On Spotify alone, it currently has 1.5 billion—yes, that’s BILLION with a B—streams! A little over halfway through the song, the energy picks up, so you can start easy and then add gear partway through.

7. Latin Pop: Latin pop (and Latin rock) usually combines upbeat Latin music with American pop music and is commonly associated with Spanish-language pop, rock, and dance music. This style likely makes up the lion’s share of the Latin music you’ll play in your cycling classes and that you’ll find in our bucket playlist. Songs can include rhythms from any of the Latin styles listed above. A list of artists would be many hundreds of pages long, beginning with Shakira, Ritchie Valens, Christina Aguilera, Marc Anthony, Selena, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias, Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez, Juanes, Elvis Crespo, Carlos Santana, Daddy Yankee, and so many more.

Pop, La Oreja de Van Gogh, 2:31, 134 bpm
What better way to showcase Latin pop than a song called “Pop”? La Oreja de Van Gogh (“Van Gogh’s ear”) hails from Spain and has appeared in many of my Vuelta à España profiles for years. This song makes for a fun climb up those Spanish mountains.

In conclusion, hosting a Latin-themed ride with Latin music during National Hispanic Heritage Month is not just a fun and energetic addition to your indoor cycling classes; it’s also a way to pay homage to the rich cultural tapestry of the Hispanic and Latinx communities. It’s a chance to connect, motivate, and inspire your riders while celebrating diversity, promoting inclusivity, and expanding your own tendencies to select music from a narrow musical box. 

So, step outside of that box, crank up the Latin tunes, ride to the rhythm, and let the music take your cycling classes to new heights during this meaningful month of celebration! 

Below is our Latin bucket playlist, currently at over 300 songs. (ICA members)

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