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The Art of the Workout Playlist

Even though it can be relaxing, the drum of ellipticals in the Fitness Center can eventually become, well, boring. Unfortunately, most have to venture to the workout room anyway. Only those lucky few can pound pizza from the Caf and never have to worry about attending that weekly body sculpt or Pilates class. Still, there’s just something about the Fitness Center that makes most students avoid it like a Western Heritage lecture.

I’m here to tell you that there’s nothing worse than dreading the Fitness Center just because it’s boring. Your body craves the endorphins released during exercise. It’s a great stress reliever and can help melt away those freshman 15 faster than any pre-made salad from the Pub. But there are ways to make the Fitness Center more enjoyable for yourself so you don’t have to listen to the grunts and groans of the weight lifters, or the constant pounding of skinny runners on the treadmill.

Creating the perfect playlist is an art. It is. Just go to any run-of-the-mill gym fitness class and you’ll see what I mean. Music connects your mind to the workout and allows you to concentrate on reaching your personal fitness goals without zoning out or getting bored, but it’s often difficult to create a playlist. Sure, your friend can loan you hers, but everyone has a different idea of what’s good to listen to while working out.

 My first advice is to switch up your playlist, and switch it often. Make a new playlist for each time you go to the gym if you can. It seems like a lot of work, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to whip out a cardio-ready list of songs in no time at all. By changing your playlist, you keep your mind active during your work out. If you listen to the same twelve songs every time you hit a spin bike, eventually your mind will check-out, it will know what’s coming next. A great playlist can enhance your performance because your mind won’t be engaged in the work out process.

But what songs make a good playlist? One hard and fast rule to follow is this: do not use any song that is currently in the top 40. You’ve listened to Carly Rae Jepsen plead to be called all summer, so why would you want to listen to her whine about it now, mid-workout? One trick that I like to use is take a popular song or artist that you like right now and find something that is similar. Be your own Pandora. This can be done easily by searching through other songs on an artist’s album and using a lesser-known track for your list. Or, find a cover version of your favorite song by a different artist to switch things up (This doesn’t apply to songs that aren’t already on the radio every 40 seconds. Old hits that remind you of the good days in high school can sometimes help push you to work out more. Who didn’t look better back then?).

 You should also take into consideration what kind of workout you’re going to be doing and what gets you motivated. For example, there are people out there that would love a Glee workout playlist–they would eat that up. Now, there are people reading this and thinking to themselves, “Why the hell would I want to listen to Glee while working out?” Still, there are others of you that are probably thinking, “I never even thought of putting Glee on my workout mix!” and are rushing to your iTunes before you’ve even finished reading this sentence (Welcome back). The point is this: different music evokes different moods, and it also evokes different moods for different people. Different strokes for different folks, and all that jazz. You have to think about what kind of music gets you motivated.

Workout mixes need a flow, as do the workouts they accompany. You’re not going to only work out your biceps and call it a day (Well, maybe you are. But that’s your deal). Your playlist should build from a nice, pumping warm-up tune, to some strong beats and energizing melodies in the middle, and eventually end with a relaxing cool-down song (Cooling down during workouts is essential, by the way. But this article is not about how to work out. It’s about how not to bore yourself when doing so).

 I’m leaving you with a 30 minute playlist, including a cool-down song, that I’ve concocted to get you started. Listen to the songs on Spotify or YouTube or just go ahead and buy all the songs from iTunes if you’re daring. However, keep in mind the three cardinal rules for making a workout playlist: switch up your playlist as much as often, stay away from radio-hogs and pick music that inspires you and motivates you to work harder.

1 – “Animal” by Ellie Goulding

2 – “Midnight City” by M83

3 – “LoveGame” by Lady GaGa

4 – “Starstruck” by Santogold

5 – “Rude Boy” by Rihanna

6 – “It’s Gonna Be Me” by ‘N Sync

7 – “Hang With Me” by Robyn

8 – “Toxic” by Britney Spears

9 – “Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega

10 – “Cannibal” by Ke$ha

11 – “Do It Like a Dude” by Jessie J

12 – “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons

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