Workout music: Columbus trainers share their playlists and secrets to crafting the perfect mix
You're in the middle of a fast-moving power yoga class and your arms and legs are stretched in directions you never before thought possible. Sweat is lining your brow, your heart rate is climbing, and, just as your mind starts to ponder ways you can seek cruel revenge on your instructor, an earworm of a song fills the room. It's a song you've never heard before, but you love it. Suddenly, that heat-building pose doesn't feel so bad.
Runners, walkers, yogis, spinners and bodybuilders - everyone knows the importance of good music when it comes to getting a good workout going. But they probably don't think about just how much time, thought and planning go into crafting the mixes they hear regularly in gyms, classes and studios.
Walking into one of Aaron King's "Mind & Body Sculpting" classes at the Art of Yoga studio downtown, one of the first things you'll notice is the music that radiates out the classroom door.
"I'm a huge music fan and my music taste varies quite a bit," King said. "Growing up I was in symphonic band, so I listened to and played everything - clarinet, trumpet, drums. I just really enjoy good sounds."
King, who has practiced yoga since 2009 and taught yoga classes for almost two years, has become a fixture in the local yoga community. In addition to teaching two classes a week at Art of Yoga, he teaches PAI Yoga & Fitness in Dublin and Gahanna/New Albany, Shape Fitness (various locations), and at a private yoga studio in Westerville. A former Marine, King stumbled upon yoga by accident, while working out to P90X. "Nothing works the mind and body as well as yoga does," he said.
While he initially learned to practice yoga to ambient sounds (through P90X) and then to silence (no music), he said the key to a successful group class is a balanced, inspiring soundtrack that stimulates and motivates, without distracting from the mindfulness of yoga.
"You want [the playlist] to be subtle - something for the mind to focus on while you continue to build the body," he explained. "I normally keep a playlist pretty alive, which means I play with it all the time… I have probably 20 playlists in the works right now."
One of them, his favorite at the moment, is named "December," and features artists as diverse as The xx, Deadmau5, RJD2 and Moby.
"People tell me they like my music mixes quite a bit," he said. "Some people ask me about songs and on the spot I will text the song to them. Or I tell them to follow me on Spotify. Some of my playlists are public - and collaborative."
Wellness consultant and fitness coach Noelle Snyder Bartholdi has taught, in her words, every fitness class imaginable, from pilates to hot yoga, for more than a decade. But she feels most at home, and in her element, on a spin bike. In her classes at the Columbus Athletic Club and New Albany Country Club, she uses music in an almost scientific fashion.
"Music is paramount to a stellar experience, but surprisingly, it's not the beats per minute or the newest mash-up that holds the attention of a group," she said. "People respond to what they know, they move fastest to what they can sing to, so it is important to really know your audience. Each group is different, but if you pay close attention, you'll learn, sometimes through trial and error, what motivates a group."
An eclectic mix, she said, keeps things interesting, so she weaves throwbacks in with current pop hits and plays a sort of "subconscious musical game to expand the mind and increase physical stamina."
Interestingly, the beat that most emulates the heart rate, in an awake and relaxed state, is reggae, so she uses it during moments she wants the group to do something intense, while remaining calm, such as jogging out of the saddle while recovering.
Fitness trainer Lisa Paquette, who teaches yoga, spinning, water fitness, and other classes at V Power Yoga (downtown), Columbus Sports Connection (Clintonville), McConnell Heart Health Center and Ignite Health and Fitness (downtown), builds themed playlists, inspired by everything from the weather to pop culture moments.
"They could revolve around songs that use the word 'rain' in the title, or songs that take you on a trip around the world ('Turning Japanese,' 'Walk Like An Egyptian,' 'Back in the USSR')," she said. "Right now I'm doing a concert series for my spinning class. Each Wednesday we're using just one artist for the whole class. I had enough requests to take me through the whole year!"
Jen Borman, owner of Personal Training by Jen, in German Village, said she spends up to two hours working on playlists for her classes, which combine athletic training with an infusion of pilates, at her studio and at The Butcher Shop Fitness (in German Village) and System of Strength (in Grandview and Dublin).
"My workout mixes involve quite a bit of time and thought and are very personal," she said "It's extremely important to look out during a class and know that people are feeling my music. When you want to quit and give up, it only takes one song to get you through those last couple moves."
Incorporating trance and techno into her workouts, she said she enjoys throwing people off with the order of her music.
"With most workout classes, there is usually a slow build - something to warm-up to, and then you get into it. Not my style," she explained. "I'll play a tricked-out version of Sade right after the Beastie Boys and not feel bad about it one bit."
Music, she added, "moves people and we need that motivation - especially when we are pushing our bodies to the max."
Aaron King's "December" Playlist on Spotify
"Intro," The xx
"Strobe-club edit," Deadmau5
"Yoga Dub Mystic (Eastern Sun Remix)," Desert Dwellers
"Moon," Little People
"Let Go," Frou Frou
"Smoke & Mirrors," RJD2
"Serendipity," Tom Middleton
"Get Free," Major Lazer, Amber Coffman
"Shine," Gary B
"Summer Rain," Shastro
"Right Now," Samantha Jones
"Hayling-Edit," FC Kahuna
"Halo," Lotte Kestner
"Ava Maria," Ashana
"Try," Nosaj Thing Feat. Toro Y Moi
"Om Gang Ganapataye Namaha," Sean Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band
Noelle Snyder Bartholdi's Spinning Playlist
"Riders on the Storm," The Doors
"Hustle and Cuss," The Dead Weather
"Say It Right," Nelly Furtado
"Round of Blues," Shawn Colvin
"I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow," The Soggy Bottom Boys
"Staying Alive," Saturday Night Fever
"Lazaretto," Jack White
"Pride and Joy," Stevie Ray Vaughan
"R U Mine?," Arctic Monkeys
"Best in Town," Buddy Guy
Lisa Paquette Workout Playlist - "Around the World"
"Turning Japanese," Vapors
"Down Under," Men at Work
"Walk Like An Egyptian," The Bangles
"Back in the USSR," The Beatles
"Mexico," James Taylor
"Istanbul," They Might Be Giants
"Around the World," ATC
"Canadian Rose," Blues Traveler
"London Calling," The Clash
"Ordinary World," Aurora
"Tour de France," Kraftwerk
"Storms Over Africa," Enya
"Song for Antarctica," Yanni
"Carribean Queen," Billy Ocean
"Miss America," Styx
"China Grove," The Doobie Brothers