Spinning Playlist – October 18, 2012

Happy Thursday everyone! New warm-up and cooldown songs today. I heard them both for the first time over the weekend, and absolutely fell in love with them (anyone else think that the new Bruno Mars is reminiscent of some 80s Police tunes?) … which means you get them on tonight’s playlist.

Here it is, straight off the saddle:

Warm-up (Flat Road; Resistance 3-4 on a scale of 10)
Locked Out of Heaven – Bruno Mars

Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8+)
Everybody Talks – Neon Trees
Part of Me – Katy Perry
Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson
The Fighter – Gym Class Heroes ft. Ryan Tedder

Building Block #2 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 9)
Touch Me – Smash Cast ft. Katherine McPhee
Feel So Close – Calvin Harris
Blow Me (One Last Kiss) – Pink
Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
My Hero – Foo Fighters

Building Block #3 (Start Resistance 4-5, Build to 7+)
Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera
Don’t Wake Me Up – Chris Brown
Titanium – David Guetta ft. Sia
Desert Rose – Sting

Cooldown
Miss Me – Andy Grammer
Not Like the Movies – Katy Perry

Have a great weekend – we’ll see you next Thursday! And, as always during college football season … Go Tigers!

Music Makes a Difference! (A Workout Playlist Update)

Music makes a huge impact on a workout. They’ve done studies that have shown that a good playlist not only keeps you motivated, but it also encourages you to work harder, and for a longer period of time. Great music is absolutely what keeps me going – it helps me pace my run, keeps me entertained when I am getting to that “wish I was done already” point on the elliptical and gives me an excuse to sing to my Spinning classes every once in a while.

If you’ve been keeping tabs on my blog for a while, you know I post my playlist after every Spinning class that I teach (currently I’m on the XSport Alexandria schedule on Thursdays at 5:45 p.m.) But I also spend a lot of time in the gym outside of my classes: running, lifting, or on some other random cardio machine (mostly  unrelated side note: I went to see my chiropractor on Monday, and in a kind of roundabout way, he told me I need to work out less and find a boyfriend. Not sure how I was supposed to take that … I love working out, and trust me, if I was good at finding myself a boyfriend – which, based on the number of years I have been very single, I clearly am not – I would have found one by now). So, yeah, as a former singer who is easily bored, music makes my workouts even better.

That said … here’s the question of the day: What’s playing on my cardio playlist right now? Check it out:
Locked Out of Heaven – Bruno Mars
Blow Me (One Last Kiss) – Pink
Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself) – Ne-Yo
Feel Again – One Republic
One More Night – Maroon 5
Don’t Wake Me Up – Chris Brown
Good Time – Owl City ft. Carly Rae Jepsen
Uprising – Muse
Animal – Ke$ha
Burn It Down – Linkin Park
We Run the Night – Havana Brown
Dressin’ Up – Katy Perry
Peacock – Katy Perry
Let’s Go – Calvin Harris ft. Ne-Yo
Scream – Usher
Everybody Talks – Neon Trees
Repeat – David Guetta ft. Jessie J
Where Have You Been – Rihanna
Touch Me – Smash Cast ft. Katherine McPhee
Feel So Close – Calvin Harris

Looking for something a little slower? Here’s what’s playing in my Pilates classes (and my cycle cooldowns) right now:
Miss Me – Andy Grammer
Too Close – Alex Clare
Next to Me – Emeli Sande
I Never Told You- Colbie Caillat
Give Your Heart a Break – Demi Lovato
We Are Young – fun.
Shake It Out – Florence + The Machine
Where I Sleep – Emeli Sande
Not Like the Movies – Katy Perry
Some Nights – fun.
The Fighter – Gym Class Heroes ft. Ryan Tedder
The A Team – Ed Sheeran
Wide Awake – Katy Perry
Mad – Ne-Yo
Eyes Open – Taylor Swift

What songs fuel your workout? Any good suggestions you think I should add to my list?

Milestone Moment: Celebrating 200 Posts at Strong-Fit-Beautiful

Today is a bit of a milestone here at Strong-Fit-Beautiful. I’ve spent some time thinking about what I wanted to share today, and it occurred to me that perhaps what I should be saying today, for my 200th post (wow!!) … Continue reading

Spinning Playlists: How Do I Come Up With These Things? (Or, What Makes a Playlist)

If you’ve spent a few minutes taking a look around my blog, you’ll find that one thing is a constant: the Spinning Playlist. I’ve been teaching indoor cycling for more than two years now, and though I’ve started to get developing a playlist down to a science – I can usually put together a class in about 20 minutes – it can be a bit of a challenge for new instructors. With so many different kinds of music out there, as well as so many different tastes and teaching styles, the most important part is finding what works best for you … and what keeps your riders coming back for more.

Confession time: I hear music in pedal strokes. I actually had this conversation earlier today at my “real” job with my officemate/partner-in-crime, Helen. I didn’t always, but once you’ve taken/taught enough cycling classes, it just sort of happens. It’s kind of a disease, but if there is one benefit, it’s that I have been teaching long enough to hear a song once and know if it will work in class. I may not have the choreography totally worked out the first time through, but I can usually tell if it will be a winner or not.

I wish I could say that the process stopped there, but it really isn’t that easy (although at this point, I wouldn’t really say it’s hard either). There are several factors that I take into consideration when developing my playlists each week:

Structure. Every instructor develops a “style” over time. I separate my class into three “blocks,” sandwiched between the warm-up and a cooldown. I like to progressively build each block so that it starts out easy, builds up to a difficult climb, then drops down to start back over.

Speed. I always tell my classes to listen to the music, because it will help them to determine how fast they should be going. Quicker songs lend themselves better to seated sprints, while slower songs work well for heavy standing climbs. By paying attention to the speed of the music, it should be easy to gage how heavy the weight on the bike needs to be for you to maintain an appropriate speed.

Time. The club I teach at blocks out an hour for each class … and I often find myself relieved that there is a 15 minute buffer between my class and the cycle bootcamp that follows. That’s the beauty of a pre-planned playlist: you have control over how long the class will be before you even set foot in the studio.

What’s New … and What’s Gotten Stale. This can be one of the most difficult factors to take into consideration, because while you may still like a song, your class may be burnt out on it. I try to keep my playlists updated with current music, but I also try to build in some variety – one of my absolute favorite songs to use to finish a class – Sting’s “Desert Rose” – is actually about 12 years old (and, from what I can tell, despite the fact that I usually incorporate this song at least once a month – and have for the last two years – they still seem to like it. I’ve even had people come into class requesting it).

Finally, always remember to take your audience into consideration. I’ve been teaching long enough that I have a lot of familiar faces each week, and I do regularly ask them to tell me what they do and don’t like, what they would like to hear, and if they have any music suggestions. At the end of the day, it’s not your class – it’s theirs. And if they like what they hear, they’ll continue to come back, and maybe even bring along some friends!

As always, remember check back each Thursday to see what my class rode to that night! I am often asked about my music choices, which is why I put them out there – so don’t be afraid to steal some of my music selections (or the whole list, if you’re up for it)!

Spinning Playlist – October 11, 2012

Happy 10-11-12! We made it to another Thursday … but why does it always seem that the short weeks always feel so long? Three brand new songs debuted tonight on the playlist, as well as some oldies but goodies (oh, hey, Drake and keep adding weight to the wheel until you can’t stand it anymore, long time, no see …). Here it is, straight off the saddle:

Warm-up (Flat Road; Resistance 3-4 on a scale of 10)
Feel Again – OneRepublic

Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8+)
Animal – Ke$ha
Feel So Close – Calvin Harris
Dirty Little Secret – All American Rejects
Burn It Down – Linkin Park

Building Block #2 (Start Resistance 4-5, Build to 9)
Scream – Usher
Where Have You Been – Rihanna
Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself) – Ne-Yo
Domino – Jessie J
Find Your Love – Drake

Building Block #3 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 9)
Hold It Against Me – Britney Spears
Without You – David Guetta ft. Usher
Blow Me (One Last Kiss – Pink
Criminal – Fiona Apple

Cooldown
Next to Me – Emeli Sandi
A Thousand Years – Christina Perri

Have a great weekend! No Clemson football this weekend … but we’ll be back next week!

What Your Gym is Hiding From You

Think you know everything about a good gym? You may be surprised. I came across this article, What Your Gym is Hiding From You | Women’s Health Magazine, which spells out a few things you may not know … and can keep you healthier, safer … and maybe even a little richer.

So, what can you do to make sure you’re getting the best deal, and keeping yourself free of injury? Keep a few of these things in mind when you’re joining a gym, hiring a trainer or signing a contract:

  • Visit the club when you anticipate working out. Crowds vary significantly throughout the day, with crowds usually peaking in the early morning (before work) and evening (after work) hours. Make sure you’ll be able to do what you want to do, when you want to do it.
  • Check your trainer’s credentials. Fact: there is no national standard for cetifiying fitness trainers. While most clubs do require trainers hold a current, accredited certification, the educational requirements do differ. Bottom line: make sure your trainer is experienced, and willing to help you achieve your personal goals – what you want to achieve should always be the trainer’s first priority. Training isn’t cheap, so make sure you get out of it what you want to, not what the trainer thinks you should.
  • Know what’s in your contract. Many clubs have auto-renewal built right into the contract – and it can’t be stopped unless certain steps are taken to end the auto-renewal or cancel your contract. It’s your money, so make sure you know where it’s going, and when, as well as any changes or additonal fees that may be incurred over time.
  • Make sure the club is clean. Gyms can be a petri dish for germs and disease. Check that there is a cleaning staff, and cleaning supplies readily available to wipe down equipment before and after use. With the weather getting cooler, there is even better chance of picking up an illness, so the cleaner your surroundings, the better.

One final tip – the right time to invest in a gym membership is now! Prices will go up following the new year, once the crowd builds as a result of New Year’s resolutions (“the resolutioners,” as I refer to them as), and many clubs will offer special deals in the slower months of the year. And see if you can get a better deal on your contract depending on how long you sign up for – if you know you’ll be committed, an extention on your contract can be worth your while (I’ve actually heard my gym advertise six months free if you renew for another year – at my club, this could save you close to $350 a year)!

Bottom line: be smart and do your homework before you buy!