Don't Judge Me by My Workout Playlist

If I'm being totally honest, I can probably think of many ways that I am hypocritical (for example, I simultaneously hate global warming and love air conditioning) but the one that is niggling most at my conscience is music.

I know, I know, in a world where children are dying in sweat shops and I still buy sandals at Wal-Mart, I choose music to get really worked up about. But here's my problem - I love music. And I cannot get through a workout without it. The worst part of running long races for me isn't the hills or the heat or the surprise Gatorade on the water table (try throwing that over your head) but the fact that I can't use my MP3 player. And let's face it, group fit classes like BodyPump, Hip Hop Hustle and my beloved Turbokick are defined by their great music. Music, I might add, that offers to "fold" me "like a pornography poster" right after rapping a list of sexual positions that would make the Kama Sutra take notes.

That song (that you are now undoubtedly singing in your head, you're welcome) is "Low" by Flo Rida. It is not some obscure rap song purchased only by pimply, Penthouse-hiding adolescent boys; "Low" hit number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list. It is played on almost every radio station in the country. And it is all about using a female sex worker (stripper? prostitute?) to fulfill every male sexual fantasy. But hey, "that shorty, she was worth the money." At least he's frugal. I know I hate it when I get a dud hooker.

Think that's the exception? Check out the Billboard Top 100. Number 2 is the romantic ballad "Best I Ever Had" by Drake that not only uses the F word 6 times in the chorus alone but covers oral sex in such detail that hookers are suing him for disclosing their trade secrets. Lest you think it's just the men, Lady Gaga's "Love Game"- a song that cutely name-checks the male anatomy that rhymes with "block" in a description of no-strings-attached sex - is number 6. Next on the list is Pitbull's "I Know You Want Me", another ode to anonymous sex that has the distinction of describing sex acts in two languages. I probably don't need to add that Pitbull is not interested in the nameless "mami" for her intellect or ability to cook a souffle. But who needs talents when you have an "a$$ like a donkey"?

Confession time: Pitbull is hands-down my favorite music to workout to.  And I speak Spanish so I can't even claim that I don't understand what all he's saying (although frankly the dude is so unsubtle, martians would show up to his concert with condoms). Lady Gaga? Saw her in concert and loved it. Yet, if all you knew about women was what you heard on the top ten you'd think all of us were horny, T&A popping sex toys. We're either strippers, prostitutes or wanna-be porn stars. We're bought (cheaply) with drugs, booze, and fancy cars. And all we do with our time is grind on the dance floor until some man throws us over his shoulder and takes us home (or possibly, just to his car).

I am not alone in my musical hypocrisy: Marie Claire readers recently chose my boy Pitbull as their favorite workout music. So what's a sweat-loving yet sister-respecting girl to do? I conducted a totally unscientific poll at my gym and on Facebook and while most said that they usually don't listen to the lyrics, just the beat, almost everyone had some music on their iPods that they would only tell me about in a whisper.

What Does Your Music Say About You?


Jennie, a Turbokick instructor, is pragmatic stating, "I've had to learn to take songs at face value and listen to them strictly for the beat/fun workout tune and that is it. It wouldn't be the same if I popped in Celine Dion or Maroon 5. Besides Justin Timberlake's only got 4 minutes to save the world! We must help him!!"

Melissa goes old skool, saying, "We Will Rock You" by Queen is SO cliche, but it works so well! The beat perfectly matches my running cadence!"

Ted channels his inner cartoon character with "The Hampster Dance Remix...In college, my buddy Radke and I drove from Minnesota to the Fox Cities in Wisconsin to take part in the Fox Cities Marathon, and that is the ONLY song we listened to for the entire trip, and now whenever I hear that song I get ready to run."

Gretchen, loving on her classic rock, would only mouth the word, "Air Supply."

Allison 'fesses up to "Disney Mania!! Bought it for my daughter, but all of the songs are very upbeat and fun to listen to when you are trying to stick it out."

Kim entertains her fellow gym-goers with "the karaoke version (meaning, no vocals) of Don Johnson's "Heartbeat". PRIT-tee dorky."

Mihal is unapologetic: "It seems the more raunchy the song, the better the beat - hence the better it is to work out to. Ludacris, Missy Elliott, Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes. I know it's not pc, but if it picks up my pace and makes me move, well then I feel good about it what can I say? There are some things those Lilith Fair ladies just can't do. Sorry, girls."

BjBella has cognitive dissonance: "In the ultimate irony I used to have Rihanna's "Disterbia" followed by Chris Brown's "Forever" on my playlist."

So now I have to know - What's on your iPod and what does it say about you? Are you a lyrics or music person? Anyone else suffer from the same inner conflict I do with workout music or do you just stick to audio books and NPR?

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