And The Winners Are…

If you are looking for some new inspiration for your workouts, a great source is the 2014 Grammy Award nominees.

Check out this playlist that Spotify put together that includes every single nominated song…from pop to hip-hop, country to jazz:

The awards were handed out last night. Whether you agree with the final decisions or not, here are some favorite moments from this year’s show…

“Same Love” performed by Macklemore, Mary Lambert, and Ryan Lewis with Queen Latifah officiating over the marriage of 33 diverse couples on stage.

Ultimate “power couple” Beyonce and Jay-Z opening the show with their performance of “Drunk In Love.” Um…H-O-T!

17-year old Lorde picking up the win in her first year as Grammy nominee for her single, “Royals.”

Posted on Jan 27, 2014

The Power Of Live Music

“The Power of Live Music…”

It’s interesting to follow the progression of how we access and consume music over the centuries.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere was a time when the only way to hear music was by being in the audience or playing it yourself. For many centuries, children were schooled in music partly so that they could then provide entertainment during the time between dinner and bedtime.

The first recordings must have seemed miraculous. Imagine listening to music, a symphony perhaps, in the privacy of your own home!

And although recordings allow the masses to access music previously reserved for the rich, they also place a distance between the musician and the listener.

I remember when cassette tapes became mainstream and then CDs were on the rise. There were some rather furious debates about the “soullessness” of those recordings. Many people felt that vinyl was the truest way to experience recordings and that, somehow, LPs captured a certain something that the clarify of audio files could not.

And now vinyl is making a comeback once again. Even the New York Times declared a resurgence earlier this year. And the Washington Post reported that vinyl record sales have hit their highest point since 1997.

Still if you really want to be a purist about music, nothing beats the R-E-A-L thing. And that means live music.

Here’s a demonstration of what I mean…

Listen to the original album version of “Where the Streets Have No Name” by U2:

And then to this live version:

Which one stokes your fire? Which one give you goosebumps?

You might decide that, for you, the original version will always be the best. And that’s OK.

But consider mixing things up a bit every now and then.

We’re not living in the Victorian Age anymore. We have access to so much music which includes DJ remixes of songs and live concert bootleg videos shot all over the world and posted to YouTube. Be creative and inventive in your search for “new” music.

Here’s another example of an infectious first live performance of a current chart-topping hit, “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. This is a great live version to pump you up…

And just one more live concert edition for you…

“Gangnam Style” by Psy (I love it when the audience sings along):

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Posted on Oct 23, 2013

Is Indie Rock Becoming Mainstream?

indie“Is Indie Rock Becoming Mainstream?”

OK, I admit it, although I like a lot of Indie music, it’s not generally my “go to” genre when I’m searching for motivating workout music.

However, I know that what motivates me might not necessarily motivate you. And what motivates you might be…indie music. LOL

I was pleased to find this continuous workout music mix dedicated to highlighting indie bands such as:

  • Capital Cities
  • Passion Pit
  • Ladyhawke

I’m not sure if calling indie music mainstream is an oxymoron, but a lot of independent bands are rising to the top of the charts these days.

I’m sure that indie rockers will balk at the very idea of one of their beloved band’s music being played in a Jazzercise class, but such is the peril of simply playing songs with a catchy tune.

If you love indie music, give this mix a whirl and let me know your verdict.

Duration: 55:46
Format: Continuous and square
Tempo: 135 bpm

 

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Posted on Oct 18, 2013

Check Out These Spotify Exclusives…

xl_spotify_logo-1I don’t hide the fact that I highly recommend Spotify as a music service that allows you to discover and play nearly an unlimited amount of new music.

I don’t get a commission for recommending it or anything…it just happens to be what I use.

I used their free membership for probably about a year and loved it. The occasional commercial was mildly annoying but I couldn’t be resentful since I wasn’t paying a dime.

Finally, I upgraded to Premium at just $9.99/month and I’ve never looked back.

First of all, I love not having to listen to those commercials!

Secondly, the ability to download unlimited playlists to my iPad and play them offline during my classes is saving me so much money. Instead of having to buy single tracks of music for $.99 or even $1.29 I can download and play all the music I like for my monthly fee.

Not every single song by every single artist is available on Spotify, however.

You won’t find songs by AC/DC for instance (there’s one song, actually) or the complete library of tunes from The Beatles, but the sheer volume of other tunes more than makes up for the omissions in my opinion.

I could go on and on, but for now, I’ll share just one other feature I love about Spotify…

They sometimes have what they call “Spotify Exclusives” which include songs and interviews that aren’t available anywhere else. Sometimes the artists eventually release the content to other venues such as Amazon or iTunes but often songs are available as an “Album Only” purchase and not via a single track.

Here is one example of Spotify Exclusive content, Tiesto’s album, Club Life, Volume 3 – Stockholm which was released initially on Spotify. It’s now available on Amazon as an album purchase only and on iTunes with select songs available as single tracks.

I use “Paradise” to kick off one of my indoor cycling class playlists. It sets a dramatic tone that builds anticipation and has quieter moments where you can use verbal cues to really get your students focused and motivated for a great ride.

Try using these songs for your workout. Again, to sign up for a free Spotify account, click here.

Posted on Oct 18, 2013

How to Cultivate A Cult Following

“How to Cultivate A Cult Following…”

partymixWay back in the early 90s, I trained a woman named Andra how to teach step.

And of all the instructors I trained over the years, she is by far the one who became a Rock Star.

She had a cult following of girls who would shadow her from one gym to the next…Step classes at the university on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and kickboxing classes at the YMCA on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Her classes were PACKED! And her fans extremely devoted.

Unfortunately, she stopped teaching classes when she switched gears and devoted herself to raising a family. Her family’s gain was definitely our loss.

One of the many reasons for her popularity was she was just a fun person. It was always a fun time just hanging out with her.

Also, she had a dynamic personality that commanded attention. Confident without being arrogant.

And for some reason, she could pull off playing the cheesiest music mixes of all time. Mixes that the rest of us instructors would avoid like the plague for being too hokey were her bread and butter.

Plus, she loved it when the songs WEREN’T sung by the original artists. (Dynamix provided a lot of her music.)

The rest of us would get criticized for playing songs that weren’t sung by the original artists, but Andra could do no wrong in the eyes of her fans.

For some reason, even though this mix includes all of the original artists, it’s the vibe that reminds me of Andra. Consider playing this one if you want to be a Rock Star and cultivate your own cult following…

Length: 1:05:47
Format: Continuous
Tempo: 130 – 133 bpm

Posted on Oct 18, 2013

Putting Your Workout Into High Gear

“Putting Your Workout Into High Gear”

topspeed7I’ve written quite a bit about the benefits of exercising to music that you know. That can mean playing current hits from the radio or taking it “old school” and playing classic songs from your past.

But besides activating your emotions, another motivating factor of music can be tempo or the speed of a song, measured in beats per minute (BPM).

Sometimes simply because the beat of a song is at a higher BPM, you’ll begin moving faster.

To read another article about the benefits of speed, check out “The Need for Speed”.

Not only can the music motivate you to move faster, but a study cited in Scientific American states that athletes who worked out to the rhythmic beat of music were able to endure a lot longer and used 7% less oxygen than the athletes who didn’t workout to music.

So when you’re just not feeling quite as motivated or maybe when you’re pumped up and want to get a huge adrenaline rush, try playing music that’s 150 BPM or faster.

For instance, I took my dog to the beach the other day and was feeling a little bit lazy. So although I don’t usually run with headphones on at the beach, I got out my iPod, played the following cardio mix called, “Top Speed 7” which runs at 170 BPM and suddenly I was flying down the beach.

I think even my dog was surprised!

And I only recognized one or two songs, so that wasn’t the motivating factor. It was the fast beat that periodically faded and then ramped up again that kept me feeling great. Sample this mix here:

Length: 46:03
Format: Continuous and square
Tempo: 170 bpm

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Posted on Oct 18, 2013

What’s Your Definition of “Good Music”?

martialartsIf there is one thing that I’ve learned in all my years of teaching fitness classes, it’s that you can’t please everybody when it comes to music.

I was in the hallway before a class one time and a member walked up to me and asked, “Are you going to play some good music today?”

My response? “Define Good.”

Gather a group of 20 people together and you will have 20 different notions of what “good music” is.

Some people love rap and hip-hop. Others can’t stand it.

I love this comment from a reader:

vibe-killer

Like I said, you can’t please everybody all the time!

If you are selecting music for a group of people, the best you can hope for is to please most people some of the time.

As an instructor, in addition to picking music I think my students will like, I have to play music that inspires me so I can pass along that inspiration and motivation to my students.

If you are choosing music for your own personal workout, then it’s exactly that…a matter of discovering what inspires you personally.

Here are some tips on picking inspiring music for yourself or others:

  1. Consider the type of workout: If you are teaching a kickboxing class or doing some hard core weight training, you’re probably going to want music that’s different from the music you want to hear if you are doing yoga or Pilates. When I’m working out, I might listen to techno, pop, and rap, but when I’m taking yoga, I like it when the instructor plays more instrumental music.
  2. Consider the mood: I remember when I was going through a tough transition (just left a long-term relationship, moved, got a new job), I really enjoyed listening to music that had some pretty defiant lyrics. Years later, when I was more settled, I found those some songs no longer inspired me. So what mood are you in today? Do you need a boost or do you need to feel more grounded? What time of day is it? Evening workouts might be be inspired by different tunes like club-inspired dance music than 9am workouts where classic songs you can sing along to rule.
  3. Mix it up: You don’t always have to go for what’s “expected.” Fill your playlist with a variety of music with different tempos, tones, and genres. Sometimes just the shock of something unexpected can motivate.

If you want a hard-hitting mix complete with explicit lyrics,  check out this Playlist on Spotify (click here to sign up for a free account):

Or click here to check out this Playlist on Soundcloud. I particularly love these songs (if I’m in the right mood):

  • Remember the Name by Fort Minor
  • Not Afraid by Eminem
  • Ready for War by 50 Cent

If you’re in the mood for some really upbeat music, browse through the tunes in this Spotify Playlist (click here to sign up for a free account):

Posted on Oct 10, 2013

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