INSIDE LOOK: Building a Playlist

First and foremost, if you would have asked me a two years ago if I saw myself coaching spin class, talking into a mic for 45 minutes, three days a week, I would have laughed you off; until I found CampusCycle.

Like many of you, the place drew me in. The vibe of the dark room, the loud music, the killer workout, the community feel, the no judgement zone, it was all there. I told myself at the beginning of 2018 that I was going to put myself out there more and go outside of my comfort zone. Lyndsey and Kelsey granted me the opportunity to coach a class of riders three days a week and for that I will be ever grateful.


Now, you get an inside look at the work that goes into getting on that stage with a new playlist every time and work you all to a dripping sweat. The beautiful thing, as you Riders know, every single coach is different. We all have different playlists, different tastes in music; some of us prefer sprints and hills, some of us prefer to never sit down in class, tapping it back continually. It all depends on the coach and the vibe they want to bring that day. To provide freedom and consistency from our 20 coaches between two locations there’s a few song requirements and two staple movements (tapback and push up): warm up, weight song, focus song, connect and cool down. From there, the floor is ours.

My husband calls me a “spinning DJ,” mainly because I have a playlist of over 1,000 up-beat, workout songs that will be choreographed into a 45 minute ride. Here’s how I prepare for each spin class:

  • Music is key to our classes. Like I stated above, I have one playlist titled “overall” that, anytime I hear a song I like and know could be used for CC, I throw it into that playlist. This is the playlist that also plays at the beginning of class when riders are getting set up on their bikes, preparing for their ride. I tend to do three playlists at a time, one for each class on my schedule of that week (sometimes this changes per subbing or schedule changes). I cannot start building my playlist until I have that warm up song set. Honestly, that is usually the most stressful part for me because I want you all to be pumped up when you first hear it, but not TOO pumped up so you don’t start tapping back during warm ups.

    • Once the warm up song is set, I go through my “overall” playlist and listen to the beats of each song (is it fast, is it slow, does it have an opportunity for a 4-corner count, is it 3:30 or is it 4:30… etc.)

    • I tend to throw about 7-8 songs into the playlist (typically playlists are 12-14 songs in length) and find a slower beat song, or a new favorite, for weights, and then find a motivational focus song (a song for the riders to do whatever they would like with no lights or mic). Then, the organizing starts…

    • Keep pedaling. I want to make sure you are pushing yourself as hard as you can throughout every class. As a coach, we lead and move through the workout as well.

    • Throw in a sprint, a hill, and a weights song.

    • We all close it out with a fun connect (riders move in unison, side-to-side to the beat of the music), and BOOM!, playlist built.

    • If you ever have any requests, let me know!

  • You’ll notice, when you ride with me, I have a little notebook that I use up on the stage. It’s more so a comfort piece, as it’s very rare I actually use it on stage. It’s more so for my car (don’t laugh…)

    • If you pull up next to me at a stoplight prepare to feel that bass bumping and me pushing up on my steering wheel. Yes, this happens. I get laughed at all the time, and I reply with a wave and a smile.

    • My playlists are on repeat on my drives, to and from work and the store, wherever I am going. My notebook helps me memorize the ride so it’s ready to roll when the lights go down at 5:15am or Sundays at Noon.

  • Intentions are what I do after the playlist is built. I tie the music into our intention, but most of the time, I am really trying to relate to the Riders. Whether it be stress from work, stress from home, being present, etc. But one thing you will note, especially if you ride with me a lot, I always take it back to positive attitudes. I try my hardest to have one every day, especially outside of the dark room of CC. I’m a firm believer in the more I preach it, the more it will become a living, breathing thing I do every single second of every day. If it’s a quote I really enjoy, you can find it on my Instagram after class. (@mrsjencross)


At the end of the day, nothing gets me more pumped up than our Riders. Seeing all the familiar faces, greeting new ones, sharing pieces and bits of your lives with us, is what makes us come back every day and give you the 150% effort you deserve. You are the reason we love CampusCycle!

-Jen Cross, Coach