Have you ever noticed the way your body just loosens up when your favorite song comes on? It doesn't matter if you're in the car or cleaning the house, you just feel compelled to move it! It works the same way for your clients. Music can help create effective workouts by helping clients amp up their energy, maintain their drive and keep their focus � whether they�re squeezing in 30 minutes of abs or pounding through 60 minutes of step.

But what types of music are most effective? Do you need different sounds for different classes and areas in your facility? And what can you expect when your music program is in place? Consider a handful of factors before you get started, and you and your clients will see results quickly.


The Heart of the Matter

Heart rate: If there�s such a thing as a �buzz phrase,� this is it. Especially with the increasing availability of heart rate monitors that are both more effective and less expensive, plenty of cardio enthusiasts are tracking their workouts by zeroing in on their heart rate. Unfortunately, we�ve all experienced an exercise session that just doesn�t help us raise our heart rate quickly and maintain it for a period of time.

Fortunately, heart rate has a workout buddy: beats per minute, or BPM. Every song, from a languid ballad to a pounding dance track, can be described in terms of beats per minute. And a song�s BPM serves as a simple yardstick to help evaluate when and where it may be effective as part of a music program.

The focal point of many fitness facility music programs is cardio studios. While clients probably tune into their personal playlists on the treadmill, they need to be able to hear the instructor�s commands during group exercise. And if those commands are timed to a song with a higher BPM, the participants will be stepping, reaching and jumping faster � and, you guessed it, their heart rates will be rising faster.

So what�s the magic number? A minimum BPM of 132 is the accepted industry standard. Some facilities advocate a higher number, but as long as your songs range from 132 to 170 BPM, your clients will be able to reach their target heart rate and maintain it without difficulty.

If you're having trouble translating BPM to music you�re familiar with, keep this in mind: The typical dance track is between 122 and 128 beats per minute. This also means that it�s likely you�ll have to seek out music specially designed for fitness environments to find the higher BPM you need.


Moving Beyond Cardio

While your cardio studios may be the heart of your facility, chances are there may be other areas where music can provide a boost before and after cardio sessions. Consider all of your facility�s functional areas: your lobby, locker rooms, juice bar or caf�, spa, child care center, etc. Because these areas aren�t so heart rate-focused, you�re free to create music experiences that incorporate a wide variety of song tempos, genres, eras and styles.

Consider your lobby or entrance. This area may be the place to incorporate those high-energy dance tracks that don�t quite make the minimum 132 BPM cut. Invigorating music that helps clients get pumped up the moment they walk in the door will also help them get their workout off to the right start.

The music in your weight room can serve a similar purpose. Lively rock, pop and R&B can motivate clients to push beyond tired muscles to get in just one more set. Keep in mind that this is also an opportunity to balance the needs of different clients. While many weight rooms may be dominated by power-lifting males, more females are starting to appreciate the benefits of a weight routine. If your music program is weighted heavily toward aggressive metal and the like, the experience may amplify the intimidation many women feel when beginning a lifting program.        Instead, try incorporating accessible music such as college rock, �80s and �90s tracks or mainstream hits to help everyone feel welcome.


It�s the Little Things That Count

Now that you�ve created a solid foundation for your music experience, give some thought to a few minor details that can make a big difference. Just as you might create seasonal marketing campaigns, consider adjusting your music program to fit the changing seasons. The workout experience � and clients� expectations � can vary widely, especially when it comes to outdoor temperatures.

In-store messages can also reinforce seasonal promotions, along with your overall marketing and branding initiatives. Blended with your music experience, in-store messages can point clients toward different parts of your facility, promote new services or even provide helpful workout tips. Be sure to update your messages regularly so clients always know what�s new.

Also, be realistic about how often you�ll be in the facility to make adjustments to your music. Many owners and managers, especially when operating multiple locations, can�t always be on-site. If this applies to you, look for a music solution that offers online control for both music and messaging. Online control is especially helpful if you entrust employees to manage day-to-day operations but want to personally ensure your music experience is consistent.

Finally, consider the quality of your sound system. If you invest a lot of energy in creating the perfect music program for your clients, you can�t afford to compromise the experience with crackly speakers or audio that fades in and out unexpectedly. There is an incredibly wide range in the quality and price of sound system components � a local professional can help you design a system that meets your needs and fits your budget.

Kristi Britt-Stearns is Vice President of Local Sales for Muzak, which creates custom music experiences for the world�s most admired brands � including The Circuit, a high-energy mix of dance, R&B, pop and rock that maintains a minimum 132 BPM. For more information, email insight@muzak.com, call 704.972.7958 or visit www.music.muzak.com, www.sound.muzak.com or www.muzak.com.


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