Atlanta fitness studios amp up their workouts with live DJ sets

Music is a huge part of fitness classes, so why not make it live?

A DJ performs inside a gym as people exercise with kettlebells

Photograph courtesy of F45 Training

I have a confession to make: I think I’m a DJ. Not because I stare intently at two turntables while propping a headphone in the crook of my neck, ignoring requests and maybe randomly firing off an air horn. No, I think I’m a DJ because I put great time and care into the song selections I make for the fitness classes I teach. I know I’m not alone; many coaches these days pore over their playlists, considering things like RPM and clients’ energy as it ebbs and flows. Some fitness companies train their coaches not just in how to do the class workout, but how to create its soundtrack. And record companies have taken notice—Universal Music Group not long ago partnered with Zumba to release remixes designed and inspired specifically by the dance-fitness class.

Some workout chains are going for the real thing, hiring professional DJs to spin during class. At-home cycling company Peloton frequently uses DJs for its video-based rides. Solidcore in Decatur tried it once, for a Megaformer Pilates bootcamp class. Buckhead-based Chaos Conditioning has hired a DJ to make its interval workouts feel more like a party. I’ve taught while DJ Dollae was on the decks at Vibe Ride indoor-cycling studio in Midtown. But very few show as strong a dedication to the power of DJ-curated and -spun music as F45.

DJ fitness class

Photograph by Witthaya Prasongsin / Getty Images

With Mark Wahlberg as an investor, the national chain—with locations in Alpharetta, Buckhead, Decatur, Sandy Springs, and Smyrna—focuses on functional, full-body, high-intensity interval training. There are 36 different workouts. Each falls into one of three categories: cardio on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; resistance on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday; and a hybrid class on Saturday. The workouts are said to burn up to 750 calories in 45 minutes.

It’s during the 60-minute Saturday class that F45 brings out the DJ. Spinning everything from trap to hip-hop and pop, DJs like Grace Lamour—who has served as resident DJ at places like the W Hotel and Aloft Hotel—amp up the energy in the room, even during an early-morning session.

f45 Atlanta DJ workouts
F45 has locations across metro Atlanta.

Photograph courtesy of F45

“The human brain and nervous system are hard-wired to distinguish music from noise and to respond to rhythm and repetition, tones and tunes,” according to Harvard University research. “A varied group of studies suggests that music may enhance human health and performance.”

I can’t say that I burn twice as many calories when a live DJ is in the room. But I can say that I smile twice as much—and, as a “DJ” myself, I appreciate the boost that music gives my energy and my workout.