I train a couple of older clients during the time my co-workers train a few groups of younger athletes. The groups love to listen to louder pop/rap music that can sometimes be inappropriate in the eyes of my older clients. Do you have any music suggestions that can please both parties? If not, what is the best way to go about this? 

Musical preference is so subjective.  Genres and songs that motivate one person to work out could very well sound like pure noise to another person.  Luckily there is enough musical variety to appeal to everyone’s taste but combining that under one fitness center roof (and one music system) takes a bit of creativity and compromise. 

This question reminds me of my indoor cycling instructor days when I would take requests from participants on what songs they would like to hear in the next class’ playlist.  Requests would range from Nine Inch Nails to Jay-Z to Barry White, which made sense because participant ages ranged from early-20’s to mid-60-year-olds.  Although I appeased everyone as best as I could (and yes, I found a way to make Barry White work!), it required a bit of ingenuity on my part.  Not every song appealed to every person but as long as I kept the playlist upbeat, fun, and a good mix of classic and current songs, participants were happy. 

Depending on the layout of your facility, and the options available with your sound system, there are a few options you could consider making this music situation work: 

  • Mix up the stations being played so that one day it’s a pop/rap station that the younger athletes prefer and on the next day, it’s a station that appeals to your clients
  • If an iPod or other portable music devices can be plugged into the system, create a playlist that incorporates songs from both stations and play on shuffle
  • Other apps, like Pandora, will play a variety of music based on artists or songs that you enter
  • Make sure clean versions of songs are always being played and at a reasonable decibel
  • Take your clients outside or into a separate group exercise studio (provided no classes are being held) for a change of atmosphere. It’s also a good opportunity to think outside of the four walls of the fitness center and get creative with the workouts. 

There are some current pop singers that tend to appeal to a wider variety of people, such as Bruno Mars (with his catchy “Motown throwback” sound), Beyoncé, Aloe Blacc, Flo Rida, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, and much more.  Based on the age of your clients, they may be into old school hip hop, or other 80’s or 90’s music, some of which could also appeal to the younger groups.  Many pop and rap songs cover beats from older songs, so you could play the original songs and give the younger clients a little music history lesson 🙂 It’s about finding a reasonable compromise between both groups. 

You never know what could happen with blurring the (musical) lines between the two groups… they could find a new appreciation for a singer or song they never thought they’d like.  After a while, I even started catching a few of the “Barry White” ladies from my cycling class singing along to some of the newer songs I played more regularly so, really, anything is possible!

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Maureen Faherty

Maureen Faherty

Moe oversees corporate wellness and fitness initiatives as a Wellness Specialist for a financial services company and all their U.S. locations.She is also a Personal Trainer at Harvard Business School and the creator of Fitness MoeJo, a blog in which she shares advice, personal experiences and inspiration on maintaining a healthy, fit lifestyle.

She has a B.S. in Business Administration from Framingham State University and a M.S. in Physical Education/ Strength & Conditioning from Bridgewater State University. She is certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and with USA Weightlifting as a Sports Performance Coach.

Moe lives in Boston where she keeps busy crossing things off her fitness bucket list.
Maureen Faherty


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