Trapped In the 80s & 90s

90sOK, I just scrolled down through my most recent posts and realize that I have been slightly obsessed lately with the past…the 80s and 90s primarily.

I suppose you could call those decades my “formative years” as far as music is concerned. Why?

Regarding the 80s, I began my freshman year in high school in 1980 and graduated from college in 1988. So those songs bring back a flood of memories for me. Some good, some great, and some pretty awful. For better or for worse, 80s tunes tend to stir up some very powerful emotions.

And that’s where music’s influence is at its best!

For the 90s, I “discovered” aerobics when I was living above an aerobics studio in Oakland, California and I trained in that small studio to be an instructor in 1992. All the mix tapes I played were filled with some energizing songs like:

I’ve been a workout music junkie ever since!

Relive these songs (remixed with a modern day flair) and much more in this mix:

Grad the free download of this workout mix via Soundcloud here.

Length: 1:00:11
Format: Continuous
Tempo: Mixed


The Ultimate Workout Remix Playlist

napster_logoWhen putting together a new playlist, I generally like to mix it up regarding the length of tracks as well as original singles interspersed with remixes or mash-ups to keep things interesting.

When I first began downloading music from the internet back when Napster was the only game in town, that’s when I first discovered Thunderpuss remixes. I loved them because they took current hits (mostly ballads)  from artists such as Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, Britney Spears, and Deborah Cox and injected a major dose of energy with uplifting beats and rhythms.

Plus, remixes often took a 3-minute single and stretched it out as long as 8 or 10 minutes, giving you a chance to really settle into a nice workout zone.

Ten to twelve years later, some of these mixes might feel a bit dated, but I still love ’em.

Check out some Thunderpuss remixes for free along with some other high energy remixes from Offer Nissim, Hex Hector, and Chris Cox on Spotify. (Don’t have a Spotify account? Sign up for a free account here.)

Posted on Feb 3, 2014

High Energy African Music From Angelique Kidjo

If you have never experienced the dynamic music of Angelique Kidjo, a woman dubbed “Africa’s premier diva” by Time magazine, then you are in for an uplifting treat.

She blends tribal rhythms with pop, Latin, jazz, and zouk influences. The result is often pure, unbridled joy.

Check out her album, “Spirit Rising” on Spotify. (Don’t have a Spotify account? Sign up for a free account here.)

Check out her cover version of the Rolling Stones classic, “Gimme Shelter” for an injection of high energy followed by nice cool down tunes, “Malaika” and a haunting cover of Gershwin’s “Summertime.”

Another reason to become a Kidjo fan is she is UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and campaigns for improvements for women’s health and girls’ education in Africa.

The beauty in her spirit and soul definitely shines through in her music.

Posted on Jan 29, 2014

What’s Your Power Song?

Do you know what a “Power Song” is?

runner2In 2006, Nike and Apple collaborated to release the Nike+ iPod kit which included a sensor that you inserted in your running shoes which would then track various things like your pace, distance covered and calories burned.

All nifty bits of data to help enhance your training and make workouts more interesting.

The sensor paired up with your iPod so you could hear updates via your headphones.

One of the most amazing features of Nike+ was the option to set your personal preference for your “Power Song.”

That’s your “go to” song when you need an energy boost. You know what I mean…the song that never fails to get you moving a little quicker.

One of my readers commented that she used to take an instructor’s aerobics class solely because he would always play THE SONG that never failed to get her moving and “made the entire workout worthwhile.”

That, my friend, is a Power Song.

In Nike+ you can program your system so that, if your pace drops below a certain level, the music automatically shifts to your Power Song to kick your butt into gear.

How cool is that?

I bought my first mp3 player back in 2001 and I remember it could only hold 74 minutes worth of music! I was running my first half marathon in San Francisco, and the song that pumped me up when I started to flag was…

One of my long time spinners recently revealed to me that his Power Song is another classic from the 80s, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. Check out the hairdos in this slightly corny music video:

And another die hard gym member loves this song:

So what’s your Power Song? Make sure you have it handy to don’t hesitate to flip it on as needed!

Posted on Oct 29, 2013

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

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

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

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