How to Burn a Group Exercise Music CD

How to Burn a Group Exercise Music CD

By Kevin Dempsey

Burning a group exercise music CD from MP3 files is a quick and simple process using iTunes or other popular media software suites.

You've got the perfect playlist ready to go for your aerobics class. You've loaded your iPod with just the right selection of MP3 files to get your fitness class into high gear. You're about to head out to the gym when you get the bad news, the MP3 eqpuiped group fitness sound system in the studio is broken.

But all is not lost! They have a working pitch control CD player, which means you'll have to burn a music CD. You know you have a couple blank discs somewhere but one problem remains, you don't know how to make a music CD from MP3 files.

Fear not! If you were able to successfully put MP3 files on your iPod, Microsoft Zune HD, or Sony X-series Walkman, you've got enough mental muscle to create a playable CD. Here's how to do it.


Whether you have a Mac or a Windows machine, you have dozens of options to choose from. Toast is a popular choice for burning music CDs on the Mac while Nero Burning Rom is a comparable product available for Windows. Both of these are excellent programs that can do a whole lot more than making music CDs, but since they cost money this guide will focus solely on a trusted standby - Apple's iTunes. It works the same on Mac or Windows, and it won't cost you any money. As they say, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?


First off, let's make sure all our settings are correct, to ensure reliability and playability. At Fitness AV, we recommend setting your CD burner speed as low as possible. This may require your CD drive to spend a bit more time completing the burn, but just like humans, when we take our time working on a task chances are there will be fewer mistakes. A CD burned at a high rate of speed is more likely to have glitches that effect playback. In iTunes, Open the "preferences" menu, and look for advance burn options. There will be a drop-down menu allowing you to select a burning speed (1x, 8x, 32x, etc.). Choose the slowest speed available.

If you already have a playlist created with the songs you want to burn, you can skip this step. If you don't, open iTunes and create a new playlist by selecting "New Playlist" from the file menu. By default, your new playlist will be named "untitled playlist." Go ahead and name it whatever you want. If you don't want to change the name, that's OK too.

If it's a new playlist, browse through your iTunes library and drop the MP3 files you want to burn into the playlist folder on the left pane. You can also drag MP3 files, WAVs, or other acceptable formats onto your playlist from anywhere on your computer's hard drive, but not off your iPod and some other MP3 devices.

When you have all the songs you want to burn, arrange them in the order you want them to play by clicking and dragging them into position. And remember, a music CD holds about 70 minutes worth of music so keep an eye on the "total time" indicated near the bottom of the iTunes application.

Now comes the fun part.

Drop in that blank CD you've been saving and click the "burn disc" button. On the latest version of iTunes (9.2) it's located near the bottom of the application. If you're using an older version, the button can be found near the upper-right corner.

A new dialog window opens with several options. To burn a CD that can be played in traditional CD players, make sure the "Audio CD" radio button is selected. You can also choose to burn this as an MP3 or data CD, but for playback on a regular CD player stick with the "Audio CD" option. Here, you can also indicate how many seconds of silence (gaps) there will be between songs.

All you have to do now is click "Burn" and iTunes does the rest. In a few minutes, your set list will be group fitness studio ready - no iPod, MP3, or eight-track player required.

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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