Music for Working Out, Mostly By Ladies (or: I Made You a Mix!)

Some mornings I want to lay down on the treadmill and take a nap. These songs keep me from actually doing it.
Publish date:
October 6, 2011
music, workouts, exercise, motivation, M

I've mentioned before that I've been striving to get healthy. Upping my fruit and veggie quotient, taking vitamins, trying to regulate my sleep schedule (I relate to Cat way too much with her vampire hours!), and working out a few times a week. Although we've already established I'm a total and complete klutz, I've been making a concerted effort to be ... sportier, I guess. This is not something that comes natural to me.

I don't want to let my lack of coordination adversely affect by health, so aside from the occasional class with Richard Simmons, I tend to stick with solitary pursuits like running or swimming laps. When I started exercising regularly last fall, making the effort to get myself to the gym was a major struggle -- but in time, all that super-annoying fitness magazine B.S. started to ring true for me. I found myself craving the endorphin rush that comes after a good workout. My moods got better, sleep came easier, and I started to feel strong. You have no idea how much I hate that my doctor was right about all that.

Swimming laps is great for days when I want to shut everything out, and I usually feel really mellow afterward. Running, though, is my favorite. I started out by just fast-walking for as long as I could stand to without screaming from boredom. I come up with little bribes for myself, like I'll download podcasts or TV episodes I only allow myself to watch if I'm working out.

Eventually my body became conditioned to walking, and I began to wonder what would happen if I sped up. The idea of running was so scary to me, like Freddy Krueger level frightening. It seemed like the domain of skinny people, which is a land in which I do not dwell. But one day I got over myself, said "Fuck it" and punched up the speed buttons on the treadmill. To my astonishment, I did not die.

What works best for me is something called interval training, which is where you spend some of your time walking or jogging, interspered with bouts of actual running. Supposedly this boosts your metabolism, helps your endurance and a bunch of other healthy stuff. All I know is, because I am constantly changing up what I'm doing, I don't get a chance to get bored and the workout flies by. Before I realize it, I'm dripping with sweat and weighing my chances of finding a locker room shower stall without clumps of hair on the walls.

I use an app on my phone called Get Running, which is one of those "Couch-to-5k" type of programs that uses interval training spread out over a certain number of weeks to get you to the point where you can eventually run, not walk, an entire 5k (3.1 miles). There are many apps like this to choose from, I enjoy this one because to me, the narrator lady sounds a lot like the nutty British pyromaniac Lila Tournay from Season 2 of "Dexter." You remember, the one Deb walked in on at Dexter's apartment?

Anyway, one of the cool things about the app is that "Lila" (as I call her in my head) only speaks when you need to change what you're doing -- and it subtly lowers the volume of your music when she does so. Which I appreciate, since I NEED MY JAMZ and I NEED THEM TO KEEP BUMPIN'.

So, this is all my extremely longwinded way of telling you guys that I made a mix for you! I change up my playlist every two or three weeks so it's fresh and invigorating, just like Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap on your chocha. It's another one of my "bribes" workout tunes! I figured some of you might need this musical incentive as well, so I whipped up this little sucker on

"xoJane at the gym!" is heavy on the lady tunes -- high-energy stuff that will hopefully make you want to run (or dance!). I am incapable of making a workout mix without including Gaga, SORRY, so expect to hear "Highway Unicorn"...but there's also some Peaches if you crave something harder. The Le Tigre/Missy Elliot mashup "Decepta-Freak-On" makes me hyper as hell, and Amanda Blank's "Make It Take It" is likewise fun and jumpy. There's some Fergie (who knows about "working on m'fitness"), some M.I.A., The Lady Tigra and Rihanna. And I had to throw in a touch of Jay-Z because c'mon, he's Jay-Z. "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" is pratically the best cool-down song ever.

I want to know what kind of music you guys listen to when working out. Rap? Disco? Metal? Are there any podcasts you consider a must-listen? Care to share your own playlists? Let's do this thing!