123735de18986a8b_119639062_1_.jpg.xxxlarge_2xIf you are anything like me, you love music. I will listen to pretty much anything as long as it has a good beat, although I do draw the line at opera (sorry, Pavarotti fans). If you live in Los Angeles and are driving next to someone jamming and singing like no one is watching, it could most likely be me.

When I am getting ready to work out, whether it is in a group class or by myself, I think about the mood I’m in and what kind of music will get me going and keep me motivated. If I am in a grumpy moo,d there is no faster way to turn it around than some upbeat music, so I might head to my favorite hot yoga class because the instructor plays dance music. If I am feeling like I want to relax and zen out, I know my favorite yoga class to do so because the instructor leans towards mellow ethereal music. However, if I am feeling like I need to get energized for a long busy day, like the one I had today; I head to my favorite hip-hop cardio class. I have my favorite classes based not only on the amazing workout I get but also the music the instructors play. The right kind of music does a few things:

Music brings you into the moment: Music, to me, is a soulful experience. It can make me get introspective and thoughtful or it can take my mind off what is troubling me. Either way, the reaction is internal and involuntary.

It makes a workout fly by: If my favorite music was playing, I could probably work out all day. While that wouldn’t be healthy, it certainly makes the time I spend in the gym or studio fly by. I always find myself wondering where the time went.

Music connects people: There have been quite a few times when spontaneous line-dancing or electric slides have happened in my favorite cardio class. People are laughing and connecting with people they might not normally interact with were it not for the common bond of music.

I always play music when I teach. I tailor my playlists to the kind of class I want to have. If I want the class to be traditional and focused, I have a playlist for that. If I want to get heart rates up and push people harder, I have a playlist for that. Right now, I am using iTunes Radio and I love it. It’s also much more economical than Pandora or Spotify.

We all know that we should be exercising. It is good for our heart, our bones and our brains. If you find yourself dreading and dragging yourself to work out and it’s generally tune-free, try creating a very specific playlist of your most favorite songs and see if your attitude towards working out doesn’t change. Try a group class that is done with music. Most non-cardio classes like Pilates, Yoga and Barre are incorporating music into their classes more than ever before.

To quote the wise words of Taylor Swift, get out there and ‘shake it off’!


Jessica Kuiken is a Pilates instructor based in Los Angeles. You can follow her on Twitter .

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