For All Spinning® Enthusiasts

BPM vs RPM

Many SPINNING® Instructors’ ask me, “how can I relate BPM to RPM”? Beats per minute (BPM) is a measure of tempo in music and revolutions per minute (RPM) is a unit of frequency: the number of full rotations completed in one minute around a fixed axis.

How do you listen to a piece of music, and instantly know its cadence and what movement you could ride to it?

 

We need more than the traditional 32-count to help our students find correct and safe cadences. The Spinning® Cadence range is 60-110rpm therefore we needs music which is 80-220bpm.

 

I believe that music should carry the same intensity, flavour and personality as you, the Instructor who makes each and every class as powerful as you can. How do we find music that makes people want to pedal? Not just songs that are popular and over-played but music that will actually keep you and your students motivated. Not all songs on the radio are right for a SPINNING® class. Furthermore, truly great songs are not always easy to find.

Music always starts with a "1" beat. Although some songs have an intro that may use a sound effect or snippet of conversation or other unconventional treatment, the first true musical beat you'll hear in the song is usually the "1" beat. Learn to hear this and things get much easier. Throughout the song, the "1" beat usually receives slightly more emphasis. That doesn't mean it's louder. In fact, it may even be quieter than other beats. But it's deeper and feels like a down beat. It somehow has more presence and you'll have to learn to pick it up. There are some songs where it even feels like a hole in the music, making it easy to notice. Once you learn to hear the "1" you'll start to see the bars of music unfold without even thinking about it. The only way to get there is to listen to lots of music. After a while you'll find it quite easy to "feel" where the "1" beat is and you won't have to rely on hearing that first note to pick it up.

Count the number of beats or hits ‘one, two, three, four’, how you nod with your head or tap your foot when you follow the rhythm of a song. Each time you nod, count as one. Stop counting after 15 seconds. Now you know that in those 15 seconds there were, let's say, 24 beats / hits, which if you multiply that by 4, you'll know how many beats are in a minute. E.g. if you counted 24, that means the song is 96bpm (24x4). Or you can count all the beats across 30 seconds and multiply by 2. Alternatively, time how long (as exact as possible) it takes for the song to complete 32 beats. Divide 32 by how long it took the song to complete 32 beats. Multiply this number by 60. The answer is the BPM of that song.

 

Experience and instinct are developed through listening to and working with your music. Some people have a natural instinct, others have to work hard to develop it. If you know your music, you will probably have a pretty good feel for its tempo and will find that knowing the BPM is actually least important. 

 

Listen for keys, rhythm patterns, vocal renderings, and distinctive chordings and melodies. Your ear should always be your guide. 
Finally, REMEMBER, you don’t always have to ride to the beat of the music!

 

Michelle Colvin

International Spinning® Master Instructor (UK)

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