Black History Month

11 Oct 2022 09:02AM by Kyle Murray - Exercise to Music Activist

This October, it’s Black History Month and we’re celebrating in classic Virgin Active style, with themed cycle rides across our clubs! Our Exercise to Music Lead, Kyle Murray is here to educate on the history of a selection of black music genres. Before we get going with the history of these incredible music genres, we must start with a really important question…

"Kyle, what does Black History Month mean to you?"

"Black History Month to me is a step in the right direction of including what should already be seen as history. This recognition and acknowledgement is definitely the direction we want to be heading in."

What is House Music?

Almost all of us have heard of House music but very few of us know about its origins.
American-born Frankie Knuckles invented House music, with his genre known for its repetitive, four-on-the-floor rhythm and tempo of 120 beats per minute. Born as a result of Chicago's underground club culture in the late 70s, DJs altered disco songs giving them a mechanical beat. Now, House music is hugely popular!

"Why is House music a great genre to cycle to?"

"It’s uplifting and a really feel-good genre. House is also great for many sections in our cycle journey because of the tempo. Turn Me On by Black Coffee is one of my favourites. I just get lost in the song and it makes me want to move and close my eyes."

The Blues

The Blues is a musical genre originally from the Deep South of the USA, incorporating work songs, chants, field hollers and rhymed simple narratives. With a unique scale, chord progression and the iconic 'call & response' form, The Blues paved the way for many other musical genres such as R&B.

"Do you have a Blues song that is special to you and why?"

"At Last by Etta James takes me back to a TV commercial when I was younger. It’s a Sunday song whilst cooking dinner or cleaning the house. One of the genres my mum plays.”


Afrobeats describes music from West Africa, and is a term used to describe the fusion of sounds from Ghana and Nigeria. A more modern music genre that had its boost in the 2000s, Afrobeats is an umbrella term for genres such as hiplife, jùjú music, highlife and naija beats. Most popular songs under the Afrobeats genre are produced in Lagos, Accra and London.

"If you had to dance to one Afrobeats song, which would it be?"

"1er Gaou by Magic System gets me on the dance floor every single time. It reminds me of the energy at African weddings I’ve attended and the good vibes you see."


Reggae hails from 1960s Jamaica and usually relates news, social culture, and political commentary. The Rastafarian movement drove its popularity and Reggae music is known to transport messages of the culture to others. Reggae's offbeat, staccato rhythms and Jamaican Patois lyrics make up the majority of this musical form. Reggae is widely known today, through popular artist Bob Marley, who propelled the genre in the 1980’s.

"If you had to introduce someone to Reggae, what song would you play them?"

"I’d play them Murder She Wrote by Chaka Demus & Pliers. This song is really nostalgic. It takes me back to primary school, family barbeques, weddings, literally everything! Any Jamaican celebration, this song is getting played."

If you’d like to hit the saddle and get involved in our themed cycle rides for Black History Month, Virgin Active members can book into our classes via our App. We hope to see you there!

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