Imagine walking into a silent gym, or taking a group fitness class without any music.

It would be super boring wouldn’t it? (Unless your instructor was really good at singing while teaching of course) Music is a huge motivator for many people who exercise. So it’s not unreasonable to become discouraged when you forget your headphones, I personally have a difficult time if I don’t have my tunes.

Christopher Bergland, a world class endurance athlete and coach, has used music to develop “an ideal mindset for peak performance”. He claims that picking songs that evoke optimistic or energized emotions can aid in performance and motivation.[i]

However, music tastes and moods are so subjective that you may have listen to different things to evoke those emotions. Some people enjoy listening to classical while working out believe it or not! So don’t feel like you have to rely on catchy pop tunes to amp you up for a workout.

You also may need to change the tempo and genre depending on your activity; for instance, I love listening to loud, aggressive music when I do strength training, but need to listen to more ambient slower stuff when doing cardio.  Some prefer the opposite. Some people prefer silence.

If you’re not incredibly music-savvy or just don’t have the time to obtain music, I suggest downloading music apps for your smart phone. It’s a good way to easily find different music from different genres.

Here are my top 3 favourite free apps for music streaming:

Spotify: The largest of any music streaming app. You can listen to entire albums, or opt for a radio-style play. You have the ability to download songs you enjoy to your smart phone or device.

Rdio: The same as Spotify, but allows you to store songs on your device so you do not have to stream them online. Good if your gym doesn’t have free Wi-Fi.

Songza: Has lots of playlists geared towards fitness. You can also save playlists to listen to later which is fantastic. However it doesn’t have offline saving, so you’ll need Wi-Fi.

If you want something quick, here’s one of my more popular spin class playlists (sorry I couldn’t find the proper bpm’s for these songs, but trust me, they’re no less than 110 bpm):


Azari & III – Reckless (With Your Love)

Dirtbombs – Chains of Love


Chromeo – Outta Sight

Calvin Harris feat Kelis – Bounce (Radio Edit)

Kimbra – Warrior

Death From Above 1979 – Right on Frankenstein!

Disclosure – Voices

White Stripes – Fell in Love with a Girl

The Runaways – Cherry Bomb

The Hives – Hate to Say I Told You So

Capital Cities – Centre Stage

Florence + The Machine – Spectrum (Say My Name)


Half Moon Run – Full Circle

Washed Out – Feel It All Around

The Beatles – Blackbird