Categories: 2013, Playlists, Rap/Hip-Hop

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:


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):

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Posted on Oct 10, 2013

About the Author

Kim Nishida has been working in the fitness industry for more than two decades and is certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Schwinn Spinning, Reebok Cycle, Powerstrike Kickboxing, Keiser Cycling and is formerly the Group Exercise Director at UC Berkeley.

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7 Responses to “What’s Your Definition of “Good Music”?”
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  1. I have a channel on Pandora for hip hop work out music! I prefer faced paced music!

  2. cherkita williams says:

    I love up beat music. I found a “channel” on Pandora luckily that plays “hip hop work out” music.

    • Kim Nishida says:

      Pandora is a great way to find new music and particularly to tap into a certain genre of music to motivate you. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hi Kim. I don’t do the sweaty hard workouts I used to do because of health problems, but I always liked something with a good beat. I love to dance, so music that made me feeling like I was dancing instead of working out was good! I live 30 miles from the nearest gym, so I guess I’ll get to “Sweatin’ to the Oldies’ again, even though I don’t like Richard Simmons all that well :)

    All the best,

    • Kim Nishida says:

      LOL, Linda! I love blasting my 80s tunes and dancing around the house even though my dogs think I’m nuts. (I’m a pretty bad dancer.) But whatever gets you moving is Good music with a capital G. =)

  4. Your post reminds me of an aerobics class I used to LOVE!! Although he occasionally changed some of the music, there was one song he could be counted on to play and it made the whole class worth it.

    • Kim Nishida says:

      Totally, Anna! That’s what we call a “power song”…the one that never fails to pump you up and make it fun. Love it!

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