I don’t want to go so far as to say that I “need” music in order to work out, only that I “want” it… I do not think it makes my workout any more productive or even makes it go by quicker (which can be a great asset on my “burnout” days) but it certainly adds to the experience.
Maybe it’s like hot fudge. A sundae all by itself is pretty durned tasty, but you drop some hot fudge on it and you’ve taken your tastes to a whole new level. Wait, should I be talking about working out and hot fudge sundaes at the same time?
So, I like to listen to music. The health club I am a member of provides an adequate sound system, but I’m not one to force others to perform their routine to my tunes… even if my tastes are far superior.
Okay, that was unnecessarily harsh, and I’ve heard some good music being played up there.
It’s just that there is a certain tendency toward the really aggro-heavy stuff, especially in the free weights section where I tend to spend most of my time. Nothing wrong with that, especially considering the context, it just gets really repetitive and tiresome after a while.
Well, not long ago I invested in an old-school walkman cassette player.
Even though mp3 players are affordable and ubiquitous, I wanted something lo-fi and trashy.
Something I could leave in my locker and I wouldn’t be bothered if it was stolen. Something I could sweat all over, and drop on the floor, and get all humid in the locker room.
Of course, it helps that I found one at a rummage sale for only 25 cents. 25 cents! Can you dig it?
But also, something designated for one sole purpose: to accentuate a small part of my day, and even help mark the interval(s) of my workout.
Y’see, I am not one of these buffed-up and tan “cake boys” who has all day to hang out in the gym. I’ve got to get in there, take care of business, and get going again. A tape player is perfect for that because it only hold a single cassette tape, which only holds about an hour of music… which is about how long it takes me to run through my reps each day. Although burnout days are a tad longer, because I usually end up so numb I can’t even think straight by the time I saunter to my car on wobbly knees.
I’ve created a couple different mixtapes, usually choosing songs that I think will suit different aspects of my routine.
For example, I like to start off with something high energy on Side A. Because, after stretching, I need something to get me “psyched up” to start working out. The first couple of tracks have the awesome responsibility of lubricating my internal gears to allow my body to start setting a rhythm. From there, I want to keep the tempo up without blowing my stack… so I keep a steady pace.
Then, I pull back just a tad, but without losing intensity. By this point, I’ve got a good lather going, so I just need something to keep me in rhythm. Gradually I’ll slow down to a rest by the end of Side A. That last track is just catchy enough to keep me from feeling too wore out.
I do almost all of my lifting to Side A, but Side B is for cardio and endurance… so it’s a different animal altogether.
Side B starts at a four-alarm fire and continues to escalate until I’m ready to collapse, exhausted, in the steam room. A lot of energy, though a trifle light on the intensity. Brassy sassy and mucho gusto on the tempo. I use a lot of hip-hop or dance tunes for Side B.
Oh, and another thing… I like for my workout mixtapes to have a certain “theme” to them. Some governing dynamic that makes it part of a larger whole.
It can be abstract or a very concrete idea, though I prefer to simply go with a certain “vibe” or “feel” because I don’t want to have to do a whole lot of thinking about the music while I’m focusing on what I want my body doing. The music is the gravy, not the chicken fried steak.
Recently, I decided to go with the theme: “Music of the 1990s” and open it up for discussion amongst my peers.
Taking their suggestions into account, I came up with this playlist… tell me what you think:
SIDE A: “Kick the tires and light the Fires!”
01.) Rollins Band – Kick Out the Jams
02.) Faith No More – Epic
03.) 311 – Down
04.) Sponge – Plowed
05.) Atari Teenage Riot – ATR
06.) Fugazi – Repeater
07.) Tool – Sober
08.) My Bloody Valentine – Only Shallow
09.) Metallica – Enter Sandman
10.) Folk Implosion – Natural One
SIDE B: “Funk-soul-brotha, check it out now!”
01.) Jamiroquai – Canned Heat
02.) Deee-Lite – Groove is in the Heart
03.) Ini Kamoze – Here Comes the Hotstepper
04.) LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out
05.) Tupac Shakur – Holla If Ya Hear Me
06.) Ice Cube – Wicked
07.) Public Enemy – Fight the Power
08.) Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank
09.) Afghan Whigs – Something Hot
10.) Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy
Oh yeah, see, I like to name each side. Again, nothing altogether corporeal… just feel. Maybe an abstruse concept that means something to me, albeit rather small.
I’ll be using this tape in the coming week and let those of you who’ve expressed an interest just how this playlist works for me.
But, in the meantime, feel free to use it yourself. Or even send me suggestions. I’m sure this new one will get old eventually.