This Is How To Make The Perfect HAIL Playlist, According To Robert Ramsey

A study from 2009 found that working out to music can actually improve your workout, which means that your tunes could actually be the difference between a good workout and a great workout. It’s no surprise then, that when people talk about Robert Ramsey’s HAIL, Cycle, and Row classes at ICE NYC, they talk about his music. We wanted to learn more so we asked Rob, "How do you make the playlists for your classes?". Here's what he said: 

Music can make or break a class. Ever taken a class without music? The class suddenly becomes super hard and BORING! But making a playlist isn’t as simple as stringing a few songs together. There is an art to making a playlist for a fitness class; music is the key to making exercising enjoyable and group fitness classes super fun.

I realized that music changed everything when I was training in martial arts. The songs helped me visualize moves and patterns, and therefore raised my level of focus. As I became more focused, I became stronger and could push on longer. I came into my fitness career knowing the ability of music to elevates someone performance while working out. Music gives you the ability to embrace (and enjoy!) hard training.

As an instructor, I love that I can tell a story through my music selection in class. The genre doesn’t matter, but the instruments, beats, and lyrics come together to create a soulful experience. I play hip-hop, techno, dance music, old school Motown, Spanish music, instrumental, rock, and songs that don’t neatly fit into one genre. If I hear a song, and it moves or takes me somewhere, I will figure out a way to include it into my class playlist. Check out my Spotify playlist below, before reading on!

People wonder how I build my playlists for class. I never begin with a high-energy techno or rap song. Instead, I start with a soft oldie, R&B song, or instrumental because I have noticed that these melodies help everyone focus on strength. The combination of a song with a softer melody plus some words of encouragement from me over the microphone help set the tone for class. As the coach I believe it is my job to help facilitate the mental state of each athlete. The combination of good music and words of encouragement help most feel unstoppable right from the beginning. 

After the first song, the next grouping of songs I choose depend on what the movements are, but the music is always set to push and pull the athletes. The second and third groups of songs almost always has a mix of hip hop, dance, and high-beat old-school song. I’ve noticed that people love oldies because it makes them happy and relaxes them while they are going strong through a tough series.

Two other things I’ve noticed as an instructor are that the music shouldn't be too loud or too vulgar (it's a tough call but you should know if it's a little too much) and that commercials can completely throw of someone’s workout flow.

Check out one of my workout playlists on Spotify (HERE) or stop in for a class at ICE NYC:


Monday at 7am(HAIL) and 9am(HAIL)

Friday at 7am(HAIL) and 9am(ROW).



Tuesday at 6pm(HAIL), 7:15pm (CYCLE) 8pm(HAIL)

Wednesday at 6:30am(HAIL), 7:45am (CYCLE), and 9:00am (HAIL)

Thursday at 6pm(HAIL), 7:15pm (CYCLE) 8pm(HAIL)

Friday at 6pm(HAIL) and 7pm(CYCLE)

Saturday at 10am(HAIL) and 11am(CYCLE)

Author Bio: Robert Ramsey has been a elite trainer and high performance coach for nearly a fifteen years. He has worked and taught at facilities such as New York Sports Clubs, David Barton Gym,  Crunch and the UFC NYC Gym, TS Fitness, and ICE NYC. Robert is a 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and still actively trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu & mixed martial arts. Mr. Ramsey has been featured in New York Magazine and the blog "Fit Chick in the City" as one of the best class instructors in NYC. He brings a tremendous amount of experience and expertise to the fitness profession.
IG: @robertramseyrevolution