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Workout Music

I get asked by a lot of friends and gamers about my exercise routine, exercise video games, equipment they should invest in and the like. It’s kind of odd because I guess a decade ago I don’t think I’d be known as “the exercise guy.” “Pokemon Guy” maybe…

Anyway, I get asked a lot about what my workout mix is mainly because a lot of my friends find exercising boring. The truth is, so do I. I mean, this is why I prefer to go jogging outside. I get nice weather, scenery, a run by a brook or a lake, and the chance to see wild animals. The gym is just so quiet, sterile and dull. I don’t need anything eminating from a headset out there. However, I can’t go jogging 12 months of the year. Certainly not in Minneapolis, and there are a few months where I can’t here in D.C. (like today with the snow and wind). So that means the treadmill instead of going outside. Again, like everyone else on the planet 30-40 minutes on a treadmill at a speed of 6-8 miles an hour (on average) is boring. Time slows down where you’re doing the same thing over and over again. Sometimes I try to use Librivox books on mp3, but they tend to be too slow to work out to and do nothing to speed up the time my legs are going up and down, up and down. So that’s where the iPod comes into play.

I think I surprise a lot of people who ask what I listen to when I give them my mix. I think do to my outward appearance and monochromatic wardrobe, that my mix is nothing but goth, industrial and metal. That’s about as far from the reality as it gets. A lot of goth music is too slow for me to exercise too, I’m not really an industrial fan and metal is hit or miss with me when it comes to exercise. A little GWAR or LORDI maybe, but that’s not because they are metal, but rather they fit what I need most in workout music - catchy slightly weird shit that makes me smile. I can mouth or sing along with the tracks I listen to, and although they might not all be super fast paced, they do make the time go by rather quickly.

Below is the track list in order (Oddly enough in looking at the music, they are all arranged from shortest to longest song). and why they are on there.

1. Unbeatable (Pokemon X soundtrack)

Yes I know, It’s POKEMON. Surprise, surprise. But really, the song is a very fast paced upbeat number about well, being the best in the world at what you do. It’s very uplifting, catchy, and it’s a great track to just start off with a massive burst of speed. It’s only a minute long so it works in time with that first burst of energy you have. Because honestly, that first minute is crucial for setting your pace and how your body is going to react stamina-wise to a short 3-4 mile run.

2. Talkin’ Softball (Go Symphonic with the Simpsons). Really, as a long time 80s MLB fan, this song is hilarious and nostalgic for me. It’s also much slower than the first but that’s okay. Because it’s funny and very memorable, it’s 90 seconds of singing along with the song while it also triggers Simpsons quotes and memories in your head. Suddenly, the song is over and done, and you’re at the 10% mark of your run.

3. Caramellldansen - speedycake remix (Caramell). Caramell is a Scandinavia pop band, but the speedycake remix is so insane a lot of people mistake it for Japanese. This isn’t helped by the back it became an anime meme for a while. However the song has a great beat, it’s adorable, it’s fast paced and it’s so weird that you can’t help but smile during it. Happiness and fun makes work go by faster and make no mistake, exercise is WORK.

4. “Geki! Teikoku Kagekidan” by Chisa Yokoyama & The Teikoku Kagekidan. Yes, there’s a lot of Japanese tracks on here. I can’t understate how great J-Pop is for working out though. It’s so much faster and zanier than American or British pop and the silly factor really helps make the time go by. You’re getting something that makes you move faster and makes you smile. In this case, this is the opening track to the original Sakura Taisen game. It’s a beautiful mix of pop and orchestral music and of course, anything Sakura Wars gets my blood pumping. It’s often considered one of the best songs in gaming by the Japanese audience. If you’ve never heard it, you should definitely give it a listen once in a while.

5. “Sakura Saru” by Megumi Hayashibara. The Maddona/Kylie Minogue of Japan. Megumi is pop superstar and a well known actress. The name might make you think this is a Sakura Taisen related theme, but Sakura is a common word/theme in Japan that just means “Cherry Blossom.” So two Sakura related tracks fit D.C. perfectly. Anyway, Sakura Saru is one of the fastest J-Pop songs out there and is considered very hard to sing, even by the Japanese because of how fast Megumi just rattles shit off her tongue. Fast and fun is what I look for in a workout song, and this fits the bill nicely. I will admit I occasionally exchange this for “Give a Reason.” GaR is a slower song, but it has great memories attached to it.

6. “Techno Syndrome” by the Immortals. The only Techno song on the list but it’s one of the most famous and hilarious of all time. The song should get most people’s heart and pace racing. It’s a great song to have at this point, because by the time it’s done you’ll be at the 15 minute mark (if you follow this mix) and it will give you your second burst of speed. Generally I start off with a crazy fast pace with Unbeatable, turn it down a bit with the next four songs and go into overdrive with this one.

7. “Rojiura no Uchuu Shounen” by Cobratwister. This is the second in the three songs that make the overdrive sequence of my run where I really push myself. It’s one of the heavier songs in the mix guitar-wise, but the lyrics are what really make it. They’re so infectous and fun that, combined with the pace of the song, you’ll find yourself really moving. I realize a lot of people reading this don’t speak/understand Japanese, but this is one of those songs where you don’t need to. It’s just that awesome.

8. “We Are One” (WWE Mix) by 12 Stones. This is the third and final song of the big push you’ll be doing. The total time for all three is 11 minutes, or a third of your workout if you are doing a 30 minute run. This is the newest edition to my list, but when I first heard it a little more than six months ago, I knew it was the perfect workout song. It’s got a hard rock beat and pace, the lyrics are fucking intense and just perfect for working out, and it just sticks in your head like you wouldn’t believe. The song is just one of the best (in English) that I’ve heard in a long time when it comes to working out and whether you are running, lifting weights or whatever - this should be on your mix.

9. “The Next Door” (Indestructible) by Exile. Okay. You’ve just pushed yourself for 11 minutes straight. In my case that’s about 10 mph and so you NEED to cool it down, if only for a drink of water and to ensure your heart isn’t going to burst. “Indestrucible” lets you slow things down enough that you don’t feel you are hitting the wall, but it’s still fast paced enough that you don’t slow down too much. It’s a bit Usher-esque as a lot of people have said, but it’s wonderful - trust me on this. You’ve got a fast pace and the lyrics fit exactly what you’re doing and why you’re working out. it’s similar to why I have “Unbeatable” on here. The lyrics on here are just a pump up in the same way many people used “Eye of the Tiger” in the 80s. This is like having a coach and an ego boost telling you how awesome you are right after you just should have pushed yourself. So you’re slowing down while telling yourself it’s not because you have to and that you can keep going at 100% if you WANT to. More than half the time, the song pumps me up enough that I don’t slow down and so for 15 minutes (or half of the run if you’re doing 30 minutes), you are hitting that wall and neither noticing the time or the exertion you are putting out.

10. “Scramble” by Horie Yui with UNSCANDAL. Yes, this is another J-Pop song, but if you’re going only 30 minutes, this is your final track. it’s still fast paced, but it’s so silly and infectuous, you’ll be able to slow down while having a giant grin on your face the whole time. Unlike other J-Pop tracks on here, this is actually Japanese SKA. It’s a wonderful way to end the workout, not only because the song is so good, but because it’s so fun that it lets you end your workout on a truly high note. For those that don’t speak Japanese, it’s a wonderful look at the stupidity of teenage love.

11. “Just Close Your Eyes” by Waterproof Blonder. The only goth song on the list. It’s got great lyrics and it’s a wonderful cooldown song. It’s been adapated twice by the WWE into Christian Cage’s theme music BTW making them the only goth band attached to a four time world heavyweight champion.

12. “Vampire Killer” by Yuichi Tsuchiya. As you can see, if I go forty minutes, the last eight are a slower pace. if I’m on a treadmill there’s no need to push myself like I would in a race. I prefer to do that in the middle and have the rest of my run be about stamina. “Vampire Killer” is a nice orchestral piece from Castlevania that is one of the most famous and memorable songs in video gaming music history. It’s still faced paced, but slower compared to a lot of these songs so it works as a cool down piece for me. This particular version comes off the Dracula X Chronicles Soundtrack. It’s the 4:32 version. There is also a 3:32 version, but that one is much slower. I prefer the longer and faster one.

So that’s it. This gives you 38.5 minutes of music and it’s what I use when I have to exercise inside. Five songs are Japanese, one is…Swedish(?) and six are in English. Still, these should be all you need to keep your heart rate up and to keep your mind from watching the clock.

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