Do you ever have trouble picking music that best reflects your fitness mood? You are all dressed to go for a long walk or run and you’re feeling inspired and energetic…but you just can’t figure out which song to play on your phone or what Pandora station to select that might match those feelings? Or maybe you’ve got your headphones on and you’re excited to go lift weights to burn off some steam at the end of your workday, but random Eminem and Beyonce songs just aren’t doing it for you (nice try online radio “Hip Hop mix”). Well I certainly relate to this frustration both in the fitness realm and in everyday life. And while I won’t be able to offer suggestions for how to match your music to your mood for a weekend afternoon sitting on the deck sipping on Sunny Sunday Strawberry Sparklers, I can certainly offer a hearty recommendation that can recharge your fitness fizz-out!
I think that you either have that ear for music, or you don’t. My four-year-old son describes the feeling that a certain song gives him by saying in a contemplative voice, “that makes me feel purple” or belting out “that song is so red!” and he can repeat most of the words of a song back after only hearing it one time. My spouse can also hear all the little parts of a song and identify what instruments are playing during each part, and they can craft a great playlist. I, on the other hand, have been known to answer, “oh, was there just music playing?” when asked whether I liked a certain song. I’m good at a lot of things, but choosing appropriate music isn’t one of them. The good news is…there is help!
Enter the Aaptiv app for your phone! It’s a service that curates music and matches it to ready-made workouts. Let’s say you want to go on a power walk…you choose how long you want to walk and what your fitness level is (you can browse all the available walking workouts or filter your preferences) and then you pick a workout. They have everything from “Mindful Body Scan” and “Compassionate Walk” to “Smooth Love Walk” and some other genres in between. When you select a workout, the trainer’s voice comes on telling you what the workout is going to be like, and then they give you guidance and tips throughout the workout. All the while, you get to hear great music that fits the speed of walk you have selected! They even tell you when you’re at the halfway-mark so that you can turn around and head for home if you’re walking outside. No more do I find myself checking my phone every five minutes to see when I’m halfway done or to fiddle with finding the next good song. I can just put it in my pocket and forget about it and I am guided through my walk!
So that’s the deal for going on a walk. They also have similar sections for treadmill workouts, elliptical workouts, and spin bike workouts. Those are some of my favorites. I personally find that a 60 minute spinning class is too long for me, and I dislike leaving a group class early. So before Aaptiv, that left me alone on a spin bike during an off-time for classes, which is fine with me. I don’t mind exercising alone and I’m comfortable adjusting my own spin bike. But I would be constantly fiddling with my music and not really motivated by it. Plus, I technically have enough experience under my belt to create an interval workout and mix up standing and sitting etc, but when it came down to doing that every time, I found it mentally taxing and boring. Having the trainer’s voice guide me through a warm up and intervals and a cool down is so refreshing and there are enough workouts to choose from that I don’t get bored with the music playlists.
Their strength training workouts are popular, from what I’ve observed in their online fitness community (a Facebook group), but I don’t find myself selecting them often. Of the workouts I tried, the music was great and got me energized, but it felt like a lot of squats and lunges. And the modifications for more advanced moves: you guessed it, more bodyweight squats and lunges. I guess that’s good every now and then, but my preference is for moving heavy weights. If I wasn’t exercising at a great gym in my community I might pick more of these workouts, but I feel pretty set in that department. One other note I have to add because I’m a chiropractor, I didn’t love their “abs” workouts. Too many crunches/situps/forward flexion type exercises. And as someone who currently has to modify their workouts while healing a diastasis recti, I need to avoid plank-position moves. Unfortunately, after the crunches and situps, here comes planks! I’m glad that planks are incorporated overall for the general population, they are a much healthier exercise for your low back than most sit-ups, but I personally felt that I couldn’t benefit much from doing their ab workouts. To be fair, this isn’t unique to Aaptiv trainers, lot’s of “core workouts” out there call for similar movements.
I saved the best section for last. YOGA!!!
I can’t say enough positive things about their yoga and meditation sections. As a trained yoga teacher, I know the level of skill required to seamlessly guide a class through each step and each breath of a flow class. And that is when the class can see you demonstrate the moves as you go along! To teach a clear and not-confusing audio-only flow class requires mastery. They’ve found some top instructors such as Amanda Murdock for this task, and the result is some amazingly relaxing and transformative classes. Not all of the voices work for me, but they have enough variety that I can stick with my favorites and not get bored. I would honestly say that you could do 90% of the classes without any yoga experience, regardless of whether they are rated beginner, intermediate, or advanced. As long as you are willing to listen to your body and back-off any pose that feels painful, the verbal instructions are accurate and descriptive enough to guide you into most poses. Most of the classes have cool music soundscapes, and not just the “new aged flute music” you may think of when you hear the term “yoga music.”
If you are thinking of trying out Aaptiv.com, I believe they still have a free one-week trial. I jumped on a holiday special last December and got two subscriptions for the price of one and gifted one to my spouse, but I believe the subscriptions are now just under $10/month. (I’m not getting paid anything to blog about Aaptiv; it has improved my fitness life and I’m excited to share it with those who don’t already know about it!)
Do you use Aaptiv? Are you tempted to try it out? Let me know what you think of the service and what your favorite workouts are!
Picture attributions: shoes/headphones cc flikr, runner, lunges, and spin class cc wiki, yogi cc pixabay.