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Thursday, March 27, 2008


Exercise music

Okay, I need advice. We have recently purchased a cross-trainer, which is fast becoming one of my favourite toys; however, a workout is nothing without proper music. Even those folks who do studies agree about that.

Now, my usual musical taste fails me at this point. Much though I love those mellow jazz singers who dominate my iPod, they're not usually the folks to cheer you through a demanding set. I have been onto iTunes and acquired a short collection of shamelessly bouncy stuff - It's Raining Men, Sex Bomb, Baby One More Time, Hit 'Em Up Style ... iTunes lists the latter as R&B/Soul, so I feel sort of groovy about that one, but my cool credits are immediately cancelled by having Geri Halliwell singing Scream If You Wanna Go Faster come on next. I know, I know, but that was what they kept playing last time I had a gym membership before I decided it was too expensive, and it has a good beat. It's not as musically interesting as the others, but as I generally don't listen to the radio, my invention was running a bit dry.

Unfortunately, even with Geri in there, this only gets me through about twenty minutes, and I need at least half an hour, preferably with enough surplus that I don't have to listen to the exact same set every day. So what can you recommend? Good is preferred, but my main priorities are catchy, cheerful, and with a skippy beat. Help me out.

I find Cher can be good to work out to. Also some Queen. Madonna's okay, depending on the song. Or Aqua. You can also look for albums with the words "dance" in their titles. I think MTV or something puts out an album each year that has that year's best (according to them) dance tunes. Generally pretty awful stuff, but it will get you through a workout.
I find that swing music works really well. I love it when the Stray Cats come on my iPod during a run, so I went out a got a couple of swing collections with Cab Calloway, Tommy Dorsey, etc... If you can jitterbug to it, you can probably exercise to it.

My husband's also turned me on to some ridiculously fun poppy pop I'd never heard of: the Pipettes (like "the Pips" but female) and Freezepop (a bit more electronic). He also made me a fan of classic stuff like the Go Go's and Blondie. Not every song is an exercise song, but a lot of them are great.

-Mary (wandered over from lurking on Slacktivist.)
I'm not sure what your thoughts are on mindless dance music, but my dear friend Steve Boyett does this thing called Podrunner which is a podcast of one-hour mixes designed for exercise. Check it out and see if it works for you.

"Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves. (Happiest song ever!)

"We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel (Great beat!)

"Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" by Wham.

"Surfin' Safari" by the Beach Boys.

"Closer to Fine" by the Indigo Girls.

"Sweet Home Alabama" by Leonard Skynrd (not sure how to spell that).

"Take it Easy" by the Eagles

Disney has some great happy songs too. For example--

"Under the Sea" from Little Mermaid

"I Just Can't Wait to Be King" from The Lion King

"Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride" from Lilo and Stitch

All these should be on iTunes. Happy exercising!
I thought of a few more last night.

"A Little Respect" by Erasure. (You will have to sing along. You won't be able to help it!)

"Vox" by Sarah McLachlan.
80s music is my work out soundtrack. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Footloose, Eye of the Tiger (of course!), Tainted Love, Hey Mickey!, Video Killed the Radio Star, My Sharona
Etc. etc.
I watch television. In fact, exercise time is nearly the only time I watch TV.

It helps that my elliptical cross-trainer is in the same room as the television, and that my workout runs about 50 minutes plus cooldown time, neatly synchronized with an hour-long television.

An elliptical machine doesn't make the best decor, but if there's company we can wrestle it away somewhere.

With my Netflix subscription, I've caught up on a lot of series television like the Wire, Buffy, Band of Brothers, Entourage, Deadwood, Weeds, Veronica Mars, and a lot of films that I missed in the theaters.

Catch up on the cinema, burn 500 calories, and gain aerobic fitness. What's not to like?
I second the swing music recommendation. I have Artie Shaw's Begin the Beguine and Frenesi and find those songs are good for a workout. Mindless pop tunes are my favorites. The Beatles' "Help" cd is uniformly wonderful, as are all the early tunes, especially "I Saw Her Standing There." (Singing along, even at the gym, is obligatory.)

My strangest workout tunes, though, would have to be either the Sousa marches or "50 favorite hymns" by the Joslyn Grove Chorale. March music is especially good, which isn't surprising considering why it was invented, but not many other people do that. Still, "The Stars and Stripes Forever" does always make me want to go over and kick the Kaiser. Or at least finish the workout. "Liberty Bell," better known as the theme from "Monty Python's Flying Circus," is also good.

Honestly, I find it's more important to have something that I enjoy than something that makes me step higher. Good luck with it!
'Squeeze the Fruit' by The Commodores

'Only So Much Oil In The Ground' by Tower of Power

'Rock Steady' by Aretha Franklin

'Up for the Down Stroke' by Parliament

'Ain't Gonna Hurt Nobody' by Brick

'Burn This Disco Out' by Michael Jackson

'Get Up Offa That Thing' by James Brown

'Skunk Funk' by the Brecker Brothers

'Work To Do' by the Average White Band

And that's probably enough from me...
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