Anatomy of a Playlist by Kmax

Note: Karen Maxwell (Kmax), Founder of Kinisi Performance, serves as Manager of CycleStar Talent at CycleBar where she oversees the education of over 2000 instructors and 200 CycleBar franchises. 

A playlist is a living, breathing composition. It has life. So, let’s talk about anatomy.

The brain. Structure is the brain of the playlist. The brain gives the body purpose, and so too does structure give purpose to the playlist. Without structure, a playlist is random, lacking flow, and ultimately, story-telling. The structure of the playlist is dictated by the metrics of the workout. It dictates when to push, to pull back, to focus, to sprint. Within that structure is creativity: rhythm, beauty, music.

The heart is the music, the beat, the rhythms within the structure. We cannot live without the heart – thump, thump, pump, pump, beat, beat – and a playlist cannot live without rhythm. Songs, which are structured separately, give the playlist its circulation; that is, its feeling, its story. The music tells the story to the body, which initiates power through memory. Always pick music that makes you feel some type of way: happy, sad, angry, powerful, peaceful, nostalgic, sappy. Never pick a song that doesn’t make you want to laugh, smile, scream. Pick something violent. Pick something with purpose. Couple that feeling with the appropriate rhythm dictated by the structure to choose each song – and your playlist begins to breathe. 

The lungs. The lungs are the story – your story – that breathe life into the playlist. Stories, emotions, personal value, what matters in life. We’re talking about memories. Story is attached to memory. Story gives the playlist meaning beyond the sweat. And that meaning ignites the flesh. 

The flesh. The theme is the flesh of the playlist. The theme holds it all together, gives it focus, gives it a unique identity. Each playlist should tell a different story, revolving around a given theme, structured appropriately. No two playlists are alike, because each class requires a different energy. Aim to create each playlist to come full circle; the theme that was stated in the first song should come back around in the last song. It’s called “the button.” If your playlist theme is “Rediscover” your first song should open up the idea of leaving your old self behind. The flesh of the playlist should be the journey of discovery. The last song should be the ultimate release of the old self, ready for an awakening. 

The playlist tells the story. The instructor simply narrates it.