NZ Glen : BodyCombat fanatic

The importance of planning your playlist

Posted on: July 1, 2009

Last night before my BODYCOMBAT class I did as I always do and mapped out my playlist; in all of my classes since Friday I’ve done Beat It from BC37 and Bad from BC36 as a bit of a tribute to MJ’s passing (don’t worry I teach at 3 different gyms so I’m not continually subjecting the same people to the same tracks over and over – just myself! 🙂 ) Now Beat It is a reasonably short track 2 – under 3 and a half minutes (compare that to say The United Vibe from BC35 at over 7 minutes and you can maybe see where I’m going with this…) I’m normally quite aware of the track times and try to accommodate this in my planning – if I choose as shorter track 2 I’ll try to choose say a longer track 3 or 4 etc. – however last night I obviously planned very poorly and even with a short drinks break and time to demo the jump kick to the newbies I turned around at the end of the class and realised the whole thing was over in 51 minutes.

Now “technically” there’s nothing wrong with taking a 51 minute class (BC33 for example was only 47 minutes long itself so Les Mills obviously has no problem with the class time being shorter providing you follow the official format of 10 tracks) however – the truth is I personally do have a bit of a problem with it. I recall when I first started doing BODYCOMBAT (ironically around the time of BC33) I became hooked very quickly and actually used to head along to gyms that I wasn’t a member of and pay casual rates to do a class. It used to really p**s me off when the class was over in, say 47 minutes. I made the effort to get off my butt to go to the gym and paid to do a 55-60 minute class and I used to leave feeling a little ripped off.

So, for that reason I almost always try to plan my playlist so that the class is about 55 minutes long – this means once you intro the class, take a drinks break and demo say the esquiva or jump kick the class perfectly fits a 60 minute slot. BC40 is perfect for this as it’s 55 minutes long. But – once you start mixing you do need to be careful. Here’s “theoretically” what could happen if you don’t plan correctly:

Shortest BODYCOMBAT mix:

01: Summermelody / Does the Fish Have Chips? (BC34)   6:11
02: Thnks Fr Th Mmrs (BC34)   3:16
03: Revolution (BC2)  4:19
04: Tribal Dance 2.4 (BC27)   4:26
05: Girlfriend (BC33)   3:37
06: Leave Me Alone (BC32)   3:20
07: Run To The Hills (BC33)   3:01
08: Footloose (BC1)   3:46
09: Gonna Fly Now (BC36)   2:52
10: Hero (BC31)   3:38

Total: 38:26

Longest BODYCOMBAT mix:

01: The Immortals (BC4) / Electric Avenue (BC12)  10:12
02: The United Vibe (BC35)   7:11
03: Sweetheart (BC40)   6:41
04: Jump (BC35)   7:03
05: How Far We’ve Come (BC37)   6:33
06: Stamp (BC37)   6:47
07: Party Non Stop (BC36)   6:51
08: Cry For You (BC39)   6:47
09: Somebody To Love (BC21)   6:03
10: Now We Are Free (BC20)   7:04

Total: 1:11:12

Difference between longest and shortest mix: 32 min 48 sec!

Looking at the above you could have an entire class over in 38 minutes and still follow the 10 track format! Amazing huh?! (big thanks to Tapio too for compiling that info)

Now, you can plan your playlists instinctively which will work (base each track on an average of 5-6 minutes and bingo you’ve got an hour) – however, as I discovered last night this isn’t full proof so there’s a website I found which is pretty handy; The Time Calculator. Just type in the track times straight out of your iPod (or off the CD case if you don’t/can’t use an iPod at your gym) and it neatly gives you a running total. Simple as that!

Be interested in your thoughts!


23 Responses to "The importance of planning your playlist"

This is why i put my playlists together with Itunes, it tells you the total length of the playlist is mins:secs. I’ve done this before as well and made sure to fit my class into the timeslot better. Especially my sat 8am classes since the doors open at 8am i start my class at 8:05 to allow people through the doors and make sure my mix is never longer than 55mins.

Good idea. 😀

What would be great is if the iPod itself showed the playlist time as I tend to make mine up on the fly – heck maybe they do have a function for this but if that’s the case I sure I can’t find it!

Great point about class duration. During the summer, our gym only gives us 60 minute time slots including mic handover, stage setup etc etc.

The only way to keep my Pump class under time is to use iTunes and pre-plan. I even have 30 sec fillers play between each track so that my pre-track intro doesn’t go over time.

The whole class including fillers has to come in under 58 minutes which allows me time to get off stage and hand over to the BC instructor.

My only issues have been when the class before mine runs over time … but that’s a different story.

I have also put together the shortest RPM class (39:32) for my 5:45am peeps and used the fact that its the shortest to push them harder. I pre-warn them the week before and then we smash it!

BC39 track 8 is the longest track 8? now i no why they say “forever, forever, forever…”

oops, meant to say now i know

@Martin – 30 sec fillers? Wow you are organised!!! 😀

@Tal – haha – yep, it does feel like forever on the ol’ shoulders too!

As a participant, I would love to have instructors being prepared like that. So there will be no wasted time with them scrolling thru the tracks, mumbling while our feet is ‘getting cold’.

There are times tho’ when certain instructors mercilessly re-play a track if he sees that the class is mostly regulars and not doing the thing right.
OR (this happens twice to me … sob) some of the instructors even deliberately skip a track (skip! as in not in 10t format!) and let us live with it (%$%#&@^#%!!!!) because 1. they forgot the chorry, 2. He spent inordinate time with choosing the track in class time. I’ve gladly skipped THEIR class ever since.

Ine there’s a principle Les Mills instructors are meant to apply when teaching called “push play and go” – there shouldn’t ever be a large amount of time mucking about or fiddling with tracks – and I personally find it outrageous that an instructor would have to skip a track because they’ve spend so much time fluffing about choosing tracks!

You’d have every right to complain – or – as you did complain with your feet and not go back to their class.

As as for skipping a track because they’ve forgotten the chorey – well I’m picking you can probably guess my reaction to that! (here’s a clue – it may involve roundhousing the instructor! 😉 )

Yeah – I’ve never really notived it….. I know the format for BC, so if an instructor skips a T2 or a Muay Thai, then I would know what has happened – whereas some newbies may not.
So as long as the instructor plays all 10 tracks, I don’t really care if they finish 10 minutes early or something.
But on saying that – it never happens at LM Christchurch, because sometimes our instructors will play 2 track 8’s if they have spare time, and we have one regular front rower (not me) who always says after T8 “Come on one more!” – encouraging the instructor to play another track.

Actually one instructor said that the ‘older’ releases are shorter than the new releases??

so my suggestion is if you have a few minutes spare after T8 – just when they think it is all over, play another track 8!

Love the 30 sec fillers idea…

Yeah, you’ve got to be prepared eh!
Including going over the chorey beforehand!
Nothing quite like avoiding that stunned expression when a track comes on.

Happened to me once, had pre-programmed, prepared everything, but the going over the chorey was interupted thanks to an emergency out at work. I’d even forgotten which track 8 I was using.
Then in class, all of a sudden the track came on, and talk about mega-mind blank.

I just fessed up, said, “nope not today, have gone mind blank” and chose another in about 3 seconds flat! Made a point of going over the chorey so I could do it the next day.

Does anyone actually do Jump from 35 anymore? I’ve never had a request for it! *smile*.

Ok, back on topic now tho’… Itunes is a real life-saver for total track time while planning… Some gyms have policies about getting out early to allow the next class to setup.
And you don’t want to run over into yoga time… the yoga instructors seem to get the most upset out of all the different instructor types eh!

But at one gym, we’ve got a 15 min window at the end of BC on the saturday morning to allow for spill over. It was setup a while ago when they shortened the parking meters times. So everyone had a chance to whip out, put some more money in the meter & come back in for the next class.
Thank goodness the gym has kept it on, it’s a real life-saver!

Hey Nick! Great to hear from ya…
The trouble with sometimes playing two track 8’s is that the class starts to cruise expecting the extra track 8.
Then when it doesn’t come, they don’t get the full workout.

Have been coaching some intstructors at one gym not to do it. (not even really sure if I like the idea of it as a treat)
There’s a full workout in the full set of tracks (even if ‘it’s a shorter set) as long as you set the class up for it.
Let ’em know it’s a short track, & there’s only a few ops for going hard.
Even re-start the track 1/2way through if they’re not putting in!

Crikey even on the long ones you’ll hear something along the lines of “Now, we’re here for a while, don’t peak too early!” on the video.

The collective dissapointement is way too high if you’re ever stuck with having to skip a track. Had to do that once when being squashed between an unorganised pump instructor and a cranky yoga instructor.

@Ray – OMG I have to agree – yoga instructors are the worst! Our Thursday night class is followed by yoga and I swear to God if you’re even looking like you’re late she’s ready to push you off the stage! You’d think they’d be the most laid back and relaxed instructor types but hell no! (hmm maybe that’s why they need to do yoga??) 😉

I’m not a fan of jump at all – I’ll be honest – I’ve not taught it once since the release weeks and not had a single request for it. The most annoying thing about that track is the distinct lack of jump kicks given its name!

I’ve not had the mindblank thing before but that may be because like you I run the chorey of any track I’ve not done in the previous couple weeks beforehand – even listening to it in the car on the way to the gym is normally enough to jog the ol’ memory. I must admit though (especially after doing the same release solid for a few weeks then mixing) there have been times when I’ve changed a playlist at the last minute before a class upon realising I’ve totally forgotten the chorey to a track. You’re right it’s all about preparation!

@Nick – I actually used to do the extra track 8 thing a lot but have stopped for a couple reasons. One of the reasons was that I heard that instructors at one of the LM gyms in Auckland were being warned of being fired for doing this as LM really frowns upon it – another reason has a lot to do with not wanting to be beaten up by angry yoga instructors! In reality as Ray said you should be ready to keel over at the end of track 8 anyway – I think if people know another one will be coming they do tend to hold back.

That’s not to say I feel other instructors shouldn’t do this if that’s what their peeps want – hell at the end of the day if the people want it give it to them it’s their class after all!

Ooohhh… Angry Yoga Instructors – who would have thought!!
On Monday night BC goes from 5:45pm – 6:45pm and Body Balance from 6:45-7:45. Sometimes Our instructor is running a little late (2-3 mins) and the BB instructor who used to take that class would complain to management…. but it’s not like there was a class after BB.

the 2 T8’s doesn’t happen every week – just occasionally on a Saturday morning if the instructor has time, but in saying that she has done it the last 2 weeks in a row!

I don’t mind Jump from BC35, but the last 2 weeks our instructors have played Tribal dance, Jump & we will survive.

One instructor covered for his wifes class on thursday night once (they both teach BC & BA), and he didn’t have time to practice his tracks beforehand, but he said to the class “Luckily we have Nick in the front here who will correct me if I stuff up”!
thankfully he didn’t stuff up anything major!

Hey Nick,
It’s fantastic having people like you in the class… keeps us honest!
It’s also a lot of fun pulling out a “Hey [insert name of Nicks substitute here] What’s next?” right there, in the middle of the track.

All part of the fun… get’s attention for the pre-cue, and let’s you inject a little levity… Mind you, not when you’re about to get everyone to dig deep and go a little harder!

Doing a bit of that prep work atm, searching through releases for tracks to do… There’s a lot of great stuff to choose from.

I appreciate that LM central are not too keen on us pulling out some of the really old stuff. But hey, you know what… it’s what built the following for the program.
And you can still attain a great workout with the right coaching. There’s some really good stuff back there!

Hi Ray,

Yeah – our Thursday night / Saturday morning instructor sometimes looks at me in the middle of a track and says “What comes next Nick?”and I sometimes precue the next move with her…
We’ve had the opposite problem with the music here…. as I’ve mentioned on the forum, someone (I know who she is) has complained about all the new music being played in the class!! if you can believe that! – and it has got all the way to management…. but as mentioned before our instructors tend to play mostly newer stuff with the odd ‘oldie’ thown in for good measure.

At the end of Saturday mornings class the instructor said
“Please put some nice comments in the box”…. don’t worry I will!!

Back to the yoga instructors – must be a worldwide thing but they seem to be angry everywhere!

Had two separate run ins with angry yoga instructors last week – first one was when a yoga class preceding my 45 minute combat ran over by 5 minutes which causes me no end of grief.

Then again when it was a stinking hot day outside so we had the aircon on for combat (and it was the first time this class had done bc40) – everyone was standing around dripping with sweat at the end of the class and the yoga instrcutor marches in and complains about how cold it is.

As for the two track 8’s – I had that at a gym in Auckland when I was passing through for a visit earlier this year. Got to the end of bc34 t8 and had a load of time to spare so we did it again. That hurt. Lots.

Well I’m just PMSL at angry yoga instructors! I don’t think most of the ppl in our class would notice if there were two track 8’s, although I would probably die doing it! LOL
Being an instructor is hard work, eh? I guess I’m glad I’m on the other side of the stage!

hey glenn .. just realised the 45min format class total length is 46.6 minutes 😦 i have one 45 min class on weekends 😦

opps i meant for bc 40 .. 😛

[…] wrote a post a few months ago about The importance of planning your playlist, and now with 42 in the mix that’s even more important. You could take a class almost 20 […]

[…] tracks are getting longer – and they really are. For this reason I’ve also posted about The importance of planning your playlist – something that’s really imperative as you could VERY easily take a class well over an […]

I don’t know if you teachers are aware of the D.I.S.C. assessment system when recognizing different personality types. Here at our club we did an assessment sometime around when this blog post was written and most BodyBalance/yoga teachers landed in the S (Steadiness) or C (Compliance) quadrants. People who score high S dislike sudden change, and high C’s like adhering to rules, regulations, and structure.

Just to help you understand why the yoga instructors could get so angry.

Noelle – That’s really interesting! Thanks for that 😀

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