I discovered the absolute joy of the indoor cycling workout when I was in college, after a few years spent managing a fraught relationship with exercise and food. I quickly fell in love with the sport and the freedom I found within it. I loved riding in a group setting with the lights down low and the instructor yelling out motivational phrases. As a rider, I felt like part of a team, but I also enjoyed the independence in finding my own resistance and rhythm. My favorite part, beyond the killer sweat and post-workout endorphins, has always been the music. Without those blaring, heavy beats, I most certainly wouldn’t have decided to become an instructor.
I grew up playing instruments and listening to the radio. I taught myself how to play the piano by ear at age six, and continued to take lessons until I was 18. Along the way, I learned how to play the clarinet (hated it), viola (the reject of the quartet), and acoustic guitar (worship leader chic). In college, I realized I had a knack for finding music that goes well together. Originally I used this skill to throw together party playlists that put Big Bootie Mix to shame. Now, of course, I’ve combined it with my passion for cycling, which is a match made in heaven. While some group fitness classes are more about the exercises, music is the foundation of an excellent cycling workout.
In fact, if you’ve ever met a cycling instructor, you know we’re always playlisting. When I’m on the subway or running errands, I’m listening to my Discover Weekly, Release Radar, instructor friends’ playlists, and anything else I can find. (This does mean, of course, that my annual Spotify Wrapped has an extraordinarily warped sense of my actual music taste.)
My frantic and near-constant playlisting is not in vain, though. I teach between four and seven cycling classes a week at Equinox locations across New York City. In preparation, I spend between 3–6 hours coming up with a new combination of drills and new music each week, sometimes two of each. When building my classes, I let the rhythm guide the ride, and I typically lean on dance, house, hip-hop, disco, EDM, and pop punk music. When the beat drops in a song, I usually have my riders move faster, or turn up their resistance so it feels like a push. When it slows down, we recover or climb. And I always give them an escape track so that 1) They can learn to trust their mind-body connection, and 2) I can rest my vocal cords.
Onto what you’ve been waiting for: The playlist. This one is pretty heavy on the dance and EDM music, but the addition of Latin and hip-hop beats balances it out. I’ve included a complementary indoor cycling workout at the end, should you choose to ride along with me. Of course, you can do your own thing, too. This playlist is suitable for any kind of workout, whether you’re hopping on your Peloton or gearing up for an at-home HIIT session.
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