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How tapping into your inner 17-year-old boosts fitness

Body image

Picture this: I’m driving down the road, flailing my arms around like a lunatic (my kids say my “dancing” involves much more elbow than is necessary), but I’m headed to the gym, so I gotta get in the zone.

For me, getting in the zone means a little bitta Flo Rida’s “The Club Can’t (must be pronounced ‘cain’t’) Even Handle Me Right Now” (released 2010) blasting on my car stereo.

Yeah, the song’s a little dated, but man I’m telling you it’s my fast track way of tapping into my inner badass and psyching myself up to get it on at the gym.

Now, is it absolutely necessary to tap into one’s inner badass to get ready for a workout? No. I’ve certainly exercised without doing the pre-workout pump up. Fortunately ten minutes in or so and the badass comes and finds me, but it’s more fun and a whole lot faster to go get it beforehand.

Why do I benefit from feeling like a testosterone-fueled 17-year-old boy before a workout? HA! Lemme tell you:

  1. It’s just a kickass good time. Exercise is hard, there’s no way around that. Finding ways to make it more pleasurable is a no-brainer. I’m not exactly sure of the neuroscience here, but I’m positive that music bypasses our thinking mind and touches us directly on an emotional level. It’s on that emotional level that we connect with our bodies, and it’s that emotional connection that will carry us through when our brains try to convince us to sit at home on the couch. Crank up the tunes and kick it up!
  2. You can’t workout and be self-conscious at the same time. Whether I’m rocking out on the treadmill or pumping iron in sync with the beat (or in my case, even just jamming in my car) we can lose ourselves in music and therefore lose our self-consciousness. Worrying about how we look in our workout clothes or cursing that stubborn muffin top is not helpful when we’re exercising. It will stifle our workout and thus our results.
  3. Listen to music you can’t possibly hold still for. The best way to drop kick the self-consciousness and lose ourselves in the music is to listen to music we can’t possibly sit still for. You know the song I mean. For me it’s Flo Rida, but for you it might be Def Leppard or Barry Manilow. Doesn’t matter who it is just so long as it makes you wanna shake your groove thing.
  4. Music makes you feel powerful. You’re moving, you’re grooving, you’re having a blast and all of a sudden you realize … you feel powerful. You feel incredible! You feel euphoric, like you could take on the world! (And you just might!) That’s endorphins. We think of endorphins as something only runners get, but any of us can tap into that power when we connect the dots between emotional release (music) and physical exertion (exercise).
  5. There is a strong correlation between feeling powerful and wanting to do right by yourself. That endorphin rush isn’t washed away the moment we stop exercising; it continues and carries over into other areas of our lives, including the kitchen. Positive feelings about our bodies reinforce and support good decision-making all day long.

When I was marathon training I would run hills once a week. I’d pick a hill that was about a half mile long, then run up and down it three times. It’s a tough but relatively quick workout and it does wonders for building physical and mental strength. When I ran those hills I had a specific playlist I’d listen to, a playlist that included all my best motivational songs. I am not exaggerating when I say that those songs made my climb easier, and in the end, made me a better runner. Oh, and every time that Flo Rida song came on, in my head I was singing, “This HILL Can’t Even Handle Me Now!”

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