Music for Fitness: Interview with in-house curator Oscar Arroyo

It's National Fitness Day and the connection between music and fitness is stronger than ever. Gyms and studios are full, and the number of people interested in exercising and looking after their physical wellbeing has grown exponentially - especially during the pandemic.

Let's talk music for fitness...

Oscar Arroyo is one of our in-house music curators, having worked at Open Ear for over 7 years. Looking after a wide array of clients, he's been mainly focusing on the fitness world, something very dear to him.

Growing up playing American football in Mexico, Oscar got into running around 10 years ago, a love that has seen him joining the London Brunch Club as soon as it launched.

Recently, he also attended a number of Music & Fitness festivals, including Love Trails (Wales) and Atjan Wild Islands Festival, where Oscar was part of the running team as well as the line up of DJs.


The connection between music and fitness is pretty straightforward, but how crucial is it to find the right music for a fitness space?

Music can be the difference between enjoying your workout and not. It could make you go that extra mile and be rewarded with extra endorphins. Music can be a trigger for positive memories which can keep you going when you felt like stopping.

Can you go through the steps you take when discussing music with a gym chain/fitness space?

It's not much different from any other client. We would discuss anything from their schedules and peak times during the day, to the demographics of their customers, as well as their brand image and personality - ensuring the music can enrich the experience while also being in line with the organisation's core values.

How can you find some middle ground between picking music to fit the demographic of a gym/fitness space and the brand's identity?

In this instance, demographic matters massively, I'm not going to lie. Music needs to be tailored to the people visiting the gym but still be selected to fit the brand identity. The energy level of each song is also crucial when selecting music for a gym/fitness class. Long intros and outros are a 'no', while short/edited versions of tracks are always welcome.

Fitness studios are all different. How do you differentiate from a gym’s main space to their cafe or reception area, for example?

The energy level is key! A house track with a solid 4/4 kick and a driving bass line will always work for a gym. A short and intense song with constant changes of rhythm is a winner too, as opposed to one with a very linear structure.


What’s the preferred genre played across gyms? Is it still EDM or is it possible to venture into different territories?

In my experience, house music and remixes of well known pop tracks are still the absolute winners. On one hand, familiarity within music is needed when you feel like stopping your workout. The repetition of electronic music can also get you in the right head space for fitness. At the same time, I found that hip-hop and grime work extremely well for boxing gyms.

If you could pick one song you think is an evergreen track for fitness spaces?

'Da Funk' by Daft Punk.

You’re a fitness lover yourself and a runner. How much does music help you reach your fitness goals?

Music adds fun to my running. I like to listen to space disco when I run as it makes me feel that I'm going very fast, kind of flying! I have even recorded mixes specifically for a distance to be done within a certain time.

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