Which Comes First, the Music or the Cycling Routine?


You are probably familiar with the following question: which came first, the chicken or the egg? There is no good answer to that question, which is why it is one to avoid. But what if we apply the same principle to indoor cycling? What if we ask, “which comes first, the music or the cycling routine?”

Now we have a question with a more definitive answer. Some instructors come up with the routine first, then find songs they can fit in around it. Others do just the opposite. They collect a playlist of songs and then build routines into them.

Is either method better than the other? That depends on your perspective. Different instructors like to do things in different ways. What is important is that the instructor ends up with a solid routine that makes for a productive cycling class. In the end, it really doesn’t matter how an instructor designs a class if students don’t enjoy themselves and get a good workout.

                   Starting with the Routine

The people behind Mcycle studio in Salt Lake City, Utah explain that music is an important part of modern cycling classes. Music motivate students. It adds energy and boosts enthusiasm. And when utilized creatively, instructors can use music to transition from one element to the next with seamless perfection.

An instructor who starts by designing an indoor cycling routine already has an idea of what she wants to accomplish. For example, she might be thinking about designing an advanced ride that incorporates more climbs and sprints than usual. She sits down and plots out the ride to start slow, gradually build, crescendo, and fade.

Now she has to come up with half-or-dozen songs to go along with her routine. Hopefully she has a large song bank to work with. The one thing she has to worry about is inadvertently choosing songs that do not quite fit.

It is not uncommon for students to feel like something is ‘off’ with the music and how it interacts with the cycling routine. That off feeling is sometimes the result of the instructor not being able to find just the right music. If there is one pitfall to starting with the routine, this is it.

                   Starting with the Music

Designing a cycling class by starting with the music creates an entirely different mindset. For starters, an instructor isn’t beginning with predetermined goals in mind. Instead, he will let the music lead him through the process of designing a new routine. This mindset has its pros and cons.

On the pro side, starting with the music reduces the chances of something feeling off. An instructor can match a variety of elements with whatever the music is speaking at any point in time. As music builds, he can build the routine. As it fades, he can pull back. Starting with the music makes it easier to match music with routine in a more fully integrated way.

On the con side, the instructor can put together an entire playlist, develop a routine around it, and still come out the other end feeling like the routine doesn’t meet student needs. He has to live with his creation, modify it, or scrap it and start over.

The trick with both methods is to create a fully integrated routine that feels natural. The more natural it feels, the easier it is for instructors to lead their students through the choreography. Ultimately, they want students who walk away from class feeling like they have enjoyed themselves and accomplished something. How the instructor gets there is less important than the end result.

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