If I didn’t have an iPod, I would never exercise. While I understand the benefits, there is nothing less exciting to me than running, lifting, squatting, and stretching. So, I need some kind of incentive, some kind of motivation, to do these things at least four times per week (you would think “health” would be that incentive, but it’s not), and, for me, my motivation comes from music.
When I first started working out regularly, I made myself a “gym mix” on my iPod, stacked with angry, loud music. Nothing sustained a workout like Tool, Rage Against the Machine, Pantera, and Pearl Jam. And, while that was good for a while, the testosterone-filled music coupled with the testosterone-filled gym started to grate on my nerves. Therefore, I have taken to create my own workout routine soundtrack replete with all chick tunes.
My workouts typically involve four parts: a warm up, weight training, cardio, and cool down. And, each of these three circuits requires different types of music that complement that specific segment of the workout.
The Warm-up: When I start my workout, I’m really just trying to get the blood flowing, the heart beating, and the hips shaking. I usually do this by riding the stationary bike or walking briskly on the treadmill for ten minutes. For this, there is nothing better than upbeat music for the soul. I don’t need anything too fast, but I like to have something with a groove. I also like to start off with chicks who can command a room because that inspires to actually continue working out beyond the warm-up. Beyonce’s “Get Me Bodied,” Ani DiFranco’s “Fire Door,” Aretha Franklin’s “Rescue Me,” Indigo Girls’ “Shame on You,” Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing),” Janis Joplin’s Tell Mama, Katrina and the Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine” are songs that are always on my warm-up playlist.
Weights: I know a lot of women are hesitant to lift weights because they’re afraid of looking like this:
However, light weight training a few times per week is good for burning fat and toning up. When I lift weights, I need measured and strong music to keep my reps even and controlled. A few songs I enjoy while working my bi’s and tri’s, as they say, are Bjork’s Human Behavior, Feist’s “My Moon My Man,” The Gits’ “Another Shot of Whiskey,” and Lucinda Williams’ “Righteously.”
Cardio: This, for me, is the most important part of the workout. There is almost nothing better for the body and mind than getting the heart rate up and sweating like a pig. However, for someone like me, who has trouble running for long periods of time without getting winded, I need to listen to music that’s fast, loud, and, if possible, angry so that I’m encouraged to keep up the pace. When I put on Ida Maria’s “Queen of the World,” Sharon Little’s “Paper Doll,” Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold,” Lady Gaga’s “Pokerface,” Ani DiFranco’s “Shameless,” Missy Elliot’s “One Minute Man,” The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Black Tongue, Heart’s “Crazy on You,” or No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” I feel like a total wuss if I give up and walk it out.
Cool Down: After a hard, long workout, it’s a good idea to bring your body back down to its natural homeostasis (for me, that’s the heart rate most associated with sitting on the couch watching “Top Chef” reruns) and stretch out your limbs. Just like with the weights, it’s important to have music that’s measured, but this time not as angry. I personally like listening to Mary J. Blige’s Sweet Thing, Adele’s “Chasing Pavements,” The Cardigans’ “Lead Me Into the Night,” Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind,” Fiona Apple’s “If We Kissed, and Jill Scott’s “A Long Walk” at the end of a workout because these ladies’ voices are so soulful and sexy that not only do they put me in an extremely relaxed state, but [they] make me feel…[they] make me feel…[they] make me feel like a nat-u-ral woman – even when I most resemble a disgusting pig.
If you’re feeling self-conscious about going to the gym or working out in public places, let me leave you with some tips.
1. While there are some women that get all dolled up to go to the gym, I actually do the exact opposite and so should you. I purposely wear clothes that don’t match, expose my unshaven legs for all to see, and I wear mascara only so that it starts running down my face when I get sweaty, giving me that linebacker look that lets people know I’m not to be fucked with.
2. Everyone at the gym looks so serious all the time. Not me! When I’m on the treadmill and my music’s blaring, you will always see me lip-syncing and playing air-guitar or air-drums. Hey, the music is the only thing that keeps me on that treadmill in the first place; I’m not going to hide my passion. Lesson: don’t take yourself too seriously, and play air-guitar wildly and loudly.
3. I was always told that women were ashamed of their bodies. Well, that doesn’t seem to be the case in the locker room at my gym, especially for women over 60. My advice: get changed at home or in your office before coming to the gym.
That’s Monica’s Awesome Chick Workout Playlist and Advice Column! Hope you enjoyed!