Do you have a theme song? Why ever not?

I have a new theme song. It came to me in, of all places, Goodwill. (Yes, I am a devoted thrifter, and the main Seattle Goodwill ROCKS!) It was a song I hadn’t heard for years in its original 1980s form, but I swear that within 15 seconds of that song coming over the speakers, I felt ready to take on the world. (Wasn’t just me, either…it was pretty funny to see how the song pepped up everyone within earshot.)

Yes, I was surprised, too, but I know to never look a gift horse in the mouth. In this case, that horse is an unexpected source of motivation. Wow, watching this video brought back memories…of when MTV actually aired music videos.*

I firmly believe that finding the right motivational soundtrack makes it easier to get and stay fit. Back in the day before iPods (aka the Dark Ages), I burned motivating playlists onto CDs to play on my Discman. Now, with the magic of iTunes, I toss those songs into a designated iPod playlist. The shuffle function ups the ante, as I never know what kick-butt song is coming up next. Let me tell you…at mile 10 of 13 in the last half marathon I did, a certain Chemical Brothers song totally had the power to make me pick up the pace. I’m just saying.

So what else do I have in my fitness playlist? A lot of U2, a hefty dose of Black Eyed Peas, a touch of Lady Gaga and Chris Isaak, some Stevie Ray Vaughn, a dash of Lenny Kravitz and a few rogue entries like Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” (catchy, with a nice repetitive beat that’s great for walking or running) and The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” (another one of those I-can’t-quite-explain-why-it-motivates-me-but-it-does songs). There’s some Middle Eastern electronica in there, too.

Does music-to-sweat-by have to be fast or uptempo? Not necessarily. But it does need to be motivating. Most of the songs I pick have a fast enough rhythm to encourage me to walk fast or not dawdle between sets when I’m lifting weights (if the beat is good, the overlying melody and vocals can be slower). Slower paced songs can work if they have the power to perk you up and get you moving. As with any source of motivation, the music that works for you is highly personal. Any music that gets you moving, is the right music for you.

* The No Doubt remake from 2003 is pretty good, too: