Now and again, a friend will hint at the sordid things they would hate for someone to discover in the event of an untimely death. I have no such things. I do, however, have one really embarrassing one: my workout playlist…
It is my personal belief that workout music is most effective when it falls into one of two categories: powerful and uplifting, or else something so cheesy you’d never admit to listening to it. I’m talking the kind of tune that, should someone hear even the slightest suggestion of it coming out of your headphones, would induce total mortification and complete denial.
In the very best cases, a song can be both.
Of course, the cheesiness of a song is completely subjective. What’s important is how it feels to you. For me, the epitome of ridiculousness is listening to Eye of the Tiger during runs. The lyrics are bonkers (what is “the kill with the skill to survive?”) and I am so not Rocky. It never fails to make me laugh.
“I always listen to Meghan Trainor,” says one friend. “On a recent run, I was listening to Dear Future Husband at a stop light, and I suddenly realized I was dancing around.”
“I only use Spotify while I’m at the gym. As a result, I’m terrified that someone will see my ‘curated for you’ playlists on Spotify and think that’s actually my taste in music,” laughs Allie. So, what exactly is on these playlists? “Katy Perry’s Firework features prominently.”
Just last night, while I waited for a fitness class to begin, the instructor plugged her phone in to cue the night’s music, and the most recently played song came blaring out of the studio speakers. It was “Rhythm of the Night” by Corona — the poster child of 90s dance compilations. She immediately turned it off, but my soul heard that one verse and went, “YES!” This is the epitome of a good workout song.
Of course, different songs are good for different activities — upbeat anthems for high impact routines; and more methodical beats for long runs.
I’ve been coasting along with the same playlist I’ve had for ages. There is a musical cameo from the Hamilton soundtrack as well as soulful offerings from Laura Mvula and a healthy dose of Sia.
Does it also feature songs from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack? I don’t know! Maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t!
I have a half marathon coming up in March, and it will be of the utmost importance that my music is on point. (To anyone who is like, “I run to the sound of my own breath,” I salute you, but I most certainly am not you.) And so, I need help making the most epic workout playlist that has ever been.
For the collective good, I implore you: What do you listen to when you run, dance, or clean up around your home (this, too, is cardio)? What songs help you go the extra mile?
P.S. The art of (bad) running and the best YouTube exercise videos.