Convert Your Aerobics CDs into MP3 Files the Easy Way!

Convert Your Aerobics CDs into MP3 Files the Easy Way!

By Kevin Dempsey

MP3 music files are a great tool for fitness instructors to use during aerobics classes in any group exercise studio or health club. Since they are much smaller than the audio files found on a traditional fitness music CD, you can store 1000s of them on an MP3 player such as an Apple iPod, Microsoft Zune HD, or Sony X-Series Walkman. But what if all your music is on CDs? How do you get those tracks onto your MP3 player?

It's easier than you think! If you can work a mouse, you can "rip" your CDs to MP3 files that will get your aerobics class at the gym moving and grooving.


There are many great choices available for all your MP3 needs, but since Apple's iTunes is free and works the same on both Mac and Windows machines, and since iPods are the most common MP3 player, this article will focus on these fine Apple products.


Please note that the following instructions refer to iTunes version 9.2. Specific menu options and button locations may be slightly different in older versions.

  • Ready!

    Launch iTunes and insert an audio disc into your computer's CD drive.

  • Aim!

    Before you do anything else, you'll want to level the volume. "Volume leveling" ensures that songs recorded and mixed at varying levels will play back at a uniform volume. Why is this important? When you're leading an aerobics class at your fitness studio or gym, you want to concentrate on your group, and not on reaching for the volume knob every time a song changes. To do this, open "Preferences" and select the "Playback" tab and select the option labeled "Sound Check". If you're using an iPod for your class, look for the "Sound Check" option on the settings screen.

    The "bit rate" of an audio file describes how much computer memory is dedicated to storing your music. Higher bit rates result in better audio quality but in larger files. At Fitness AV we recommend a minimum bit rate of 256kbs for use in group fitness classes. To change this setting, go back to "Import Settings" found on the "General" tab of the preferences window and select your desired bit rate from the drop-down menu.

    Next, click "Import Settings" on the "General" tab of the preferences window. For maximum compatibility, select "MP3" from the drop-down and press "OK." While the MP3 remains the most popular portable audio format, you may wish to encode your CDs to AIFF, WAV, AAC, or Apple's lossless format. These are all compatible with the iPod but will result in larger file sizes with the exception of AAC. Just like changing the bit rate, you'll find the options for these in the "Import Settings" dialog window.

  • Fire!

    Press the import CD button located at the bottom of the iTunes application and sit back. Yes, folks, it really is that easy!

    Your new MP3 files will be saved in the iTunes folder and added to your music library. Adding tracks to your iPod is now as simple as navigating to the desired song and dragging it onto the iPod icon on the left-hand pane. Once your iPod is loaded, all you have to do is plug it into your fitness studio's sound system for a high-energy workout that will leave your students breathless.

Kevin Dempsey is a professional audio engineer, sound technician and fitness enthusiast. He is President and CEO of Fitness AV, The Fitness Audio Visual Experts, the leading supplier of sound and video systems to the fitness and recreation industry. Sign up for our monthly fitness instructor newsletter.

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