Music is nothing short of amazing. Listening to it and singing are known to give your brain a boost, and some keys can even help you feel happier. Its powers don’t stop there, though: Music can also help you power through the day in a toxic work environment, or a task you’ve been totally dreading. Fascinated by the science behind the power of music, we bonded with Leah Clark, a master cycling instructor at CycleBar in Los Angeles. She clued us in to how she creates those perfect master mixes for her jam-packed classes, why they’re so powerful, and how you can channel the same incredible vibes on your own.

Clark tells us that music is key when it comes to pushing riders through one of her indoor cycling classes. “Music has the power to trigger certain emotions or memories, which can be both nostalgic and therapeutic. Music also has the ability to motivate, inspire, and heal,” she explains. If you’ve chosen your fave workout instructors based on the tunes they play in class, you’re not alone. “People often find their favorite instructor partially based on the type of music the instructor plays in class,” Clark admits. “Playing music that riders love and connect to will most certainly make them work harder, and possibly even help them forget how hard they’re actually working!” Just as amazing? You can use music as a tool that helps you do the same no matter what you’re working on.

spin class

6 Top Tips for Crafting a Playlist That Inspires

Whether you play music while you’re working out solo, love it as background noise at the office, or turn it up when you’re hard at work on your side hustle, Clark’s master mixing skills can help you produce a playlist that’ll transform your experience.

1. Mix it up. Clark tells us that a playlist with tons of variety is key to keeping the inspiration and good vibes flowing, no matter what you’re doing or working on. When it comes to crafting the perfect mix for her CycleBar classes, she says,”I make sure to include a range of musical genres and time periods in my playlists — I have people of all age ranges in class, so it’s important for everyone to have their moment of ‘I love this song!’” She tells us that it’s always good to cater to a group if you plan to share your list, especially in a situation where you hope to facilitate productivity.

2. End with high energy. Whether you’re preparing to crush a workout or setting a timer for a task, the final song on a playlist really matters. “The last selection is super important,” Clark schools us. “By then, you might be drained and don’t have much left in the tank; I always pick a super high-energy song with a strong beat to drive it home while we approach the finish line.” Feels so good.

3. Create a journey. “I like to take my riders on a journey with my music,” Clark notes. “They should experience a variety of emotions from start to finish.” She clued us in on a little secret for making the journey feel powerful, telling us, “I’ll always sandwich a more cerebral, inspirational song between high-energy songs for specific moments of introspection.” We love this idea for a making a mix we can play while working on something creative too!

4. Incorporate different beats. As it turns out, there’s something of a science to creating a great playlist, and Clark cites different beats as one of the key elements. “The BPM — Beats Per Minute — of each song are in a very specific order,” she explains. “For example, if I insert a song with a very slow BPM in the middle of the playlist (for a hill), I’ll always insert a song with a very fast BPM (to release the legs) to follow.” Challenge yourself to incorporate beats that help power you up and bring release after.

5. Keep it fresh. Some say variety is the spice of life, and Clark is quick to agree. “Every playlist should be new and different,” she dishes. “I definitely have favorite songs that I’ll always go back to from time to time, but it’s important to introduce riders to awesome new tunes they may have never heard before. Instructors are always on the hunt for new music!” The same applies to a playlist you’ll love to listen to at home; instead of wearing out the same old songs to the point that you’re sick of ‘em, challenge yourself to find new jams. We love Spotify’s “Fresh Finds” playlist for uncovering gems.

6. Make it fun with a mashup. “Mashups are great because they have the ability to hit different genres and also different time periods of music, like ‘Wind Blow, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’ does.” Clark says mashups are extra awesome when you’re working out or collaborating with a group. “When you’re able to reach more people musically, the overall energy is elevated.” Bring it on!

an energizing playlist

As a bonus, Clark created a playlist just for B+C readers. Check it out below, and get your body moving!

1. Alone, Marshmello

2. Wind Blow, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

3. I’m Not Your Toy, Jack Beats Remix, La Roux

4. Mo Money Mo Problems, The Notorious B.I.G., Mase & Puff Daddy

5. Booyah, Showtek

6. Sail On, Ryn Weaver

7. Million Voices (Radio Edit), Otto Knows

8. Bird Set Free, Sia

9. Despacito (Remix), Luis Fons, Daddy Yankee, Justin Bieber

10. Save the World (Style Of Eye & Carli Remix), Swedish House Mafia

Are you a mix master? Tell us your go-to tunes or share your Spotify playlists with us on Twitter @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)