The Best and Worst of Fitness Music

February 26, 2014


Weights class
“Dirt Off Your Shoulder”
I mean, this song is basically UNFF for four minutes.  It’s got a pretty slow beat, which makes it ideal for slow picking up and lowering down of weights.  I don’t lift like Real Dudebro or Dudechick lifting, but the couple of weirdly-named classes involving weights (usually Shred of some kind?) will frequently use this song and you just feel SO. GOOD.  Also forever thanks to Hov for adding in the line “ladies is pimps, too.”

“Rocky’s Theme”
I know, it’s cliche.  Doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.  Especially for Philly-area races, playing this song at the beginning (or end!) of any race basically makes you feel like you can knock down brick walls and just basically Hulk-Smash everything and anyone.

Don’t argue with me when I’m right.  If you’ve never been, let me tell you that spin class is about as close as you can get to clubbing without actually clubbing.  Neon outfits, dark rooms, loud music, people shouting “woooo!” for no reason, and everyone’s really sweaty.  Now picture someone putting on Sandstorm in that context and what reaction you’d get.  Exactly.  I could be THISCLOSE to dying and falling off my stupid bike, but if the instructor puts this on and says “we’re doing sprints let’s goooo” I will sprint as hard as I can. WOOOO!

“You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray
DUDE.  A random 25 minutes into a class I took about a year ago, the instructor dropped this song in between a hip-hop remix and a salsa-influenced hip shaking.  IT WAS INSANELY AWESOME.  For me, of course, the song could have been titled “You Can’t Do the Moves” but it’s the most high-energy, unrelenting, straight-up fun song to dance to.  I got kicked and probably kicked someone else and turned the wrong way and it just DIDN’T MATTER because everything was just GREAT.   

A ukelele version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
Just the chillest, happiest, most pleasant song to listen to.  Yes, I might have fallen out of tree pose 3 times on each side and got dizzy during extended side angle and this girl over here I would have sworn dislocated her shoulder doing that move but it doesn’t matterrrrrr smiiiiiile.  Everything’s greaaaaaat.    


“Cotton-Eyed Joe”
Yeah, this happened in a class.  It was towards the end.  And let’s be real, if you put this song on at a wedding, I will jump around like a goofball and aggressively get everyone to join me until my left leg falls off.  HOWEVER.  If you do this during an hour long spin class I will want to get off my bike and punch you in the face.

Where did ya come from where did ya go, where did you-

I will full turn your head around and I’m going to find Cotton-Eyed Joe and end him as well. 

“Total Eclipse of the Heart”
Again, don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE this song.  I will lose my mind if it comes on in any context.  I will belt out lyrics and probably not even laugh because ~*~emotionzzz~*~.  But if you just asked me to revolve my Warrior and then TUUUUURN AROOOOOUND comes out, I will burst out laughing.  You don’t want me to giggle-snort my way through your vinyasa flow class?  Don’t play this song, Bright Eyes.

“Hands Down”
Yeah, this happened during my half marathon.  Every mile or so, the race had set up a musician/band, and many of them were just DJ booths or acoustic guitar players.  This was fine, until I got to like, mile 7, where a male acoustic guitar player (whatever you’re picturing in your head, you’re 100% spot on as to his appearance), who was belting out Dashboard Confessional’s “Hands Down” and pouring his heart into it.

BRO.  I APPRECIATE YOUR SKILL BUT I HATE YOU SOOOO MUCH RIGHT NOW.  I am streaked with salt, barely over half done with this thing, and you’re playing like The Most Emotional Song for People Who Graduated High School Between 2003-2008 and I will cry in the middle of this stupid race.  Is your goal to pump us up to finish or to leave us in tear puddles on the sidewalk?  My friend put this the best possible way: “Hands down/this is the wooorst half marathon I can ever rememberrrr”

Weights class
“Give Me Everything”
Pitbull, I appreciate you, but no division of your beats in this song will allow me to adequately raise and lower a weight.  I will either frantically try to keep up with the instructor (who magically has ten pound weights in her hands and I could have sworn our choices were five or eight) and pull something, or I’ll look like Today’s Weights Class will Be Conducted in Rapidly Hardening Amber.  Play slower music, or don’t judge me for my “Chariots of Fire” slow motion impression.  You know you jelly.

Literally any 3/4 song you’re deciding gets 4 counts
Dammit, people, beats mean things.  And I realize that humans are not triangles, and if you’re trying to balance out both sides of the body with moves, a 3/4 song will mess your ish up.  But YOU PICKED IT, and you can’t just make up a downbeat.  That’s how girls who played in way too many ensembles get killed.  Trying to track your left foot when it’s arbitrarily landing on beats 1, 2, and 3 of the measure is not fair and I will fall over.  (If you’re gonna make some snarky comment about how if I’ve played so much music I should be able to track some mixed time signatures you can KINDLY LEAVE.  I’d show you out myself but I’m still dizzy.)

Anyone have favorites?  Nonfavorites?  Comment and let me know!

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  • Reply Sarah February 26, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Ahhh I love this so much. I have never gotten "You Can't Stop the Beat" in Zumba, but it sounds awesome. I have a lot of favorite Zumba songs so I don't know if I can list just one…

    Totally agree with "Sandstorm" for spinning, just thinking about it makes me want to go pedal as hard as I can right now. For races, I love cheesy stuff too, like "Born to Run," and obviously timing "The Final Countdown" to be the last song of the race really motivates me. Agree with Jay-Z for most workouts (my personal favorite is "On to the Next One").

  • Reply Sarah February 26, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Also I lol'd just thinking about "Total Eclipse of the Heart" coming on during yoga. I would honestly have to leave the room.

  • Reply MarilynJane February 26, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    I love "Last Dance with Mary Jane" for running. Makes no sense, but the beat matches the my foot speed for a nice jog perfectly.

  • Reply MarilynJane February 26, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Errr… "Mary Jane's Last Dance"

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