Back in the 90s, we watched the latest videos on Much Music (or MTV) instead of YouTube. We bought CD’s at record stores instead of downloading songs from iTunes. At the gym, we listened to music on our Walkmans, with cassette tapes we dubbed at home. Working out was all about staying in the fat-burning zone. People lined up to use the latest, hottest cardio equipment: the StairMaster. Life was a highway, and we wanted to ride it all night long. This Spin mix heads straight back to the 90s. It’s an easier workout designed for beginner classes, and it’s far and away the most popular mix on this blog, with over 1,000 views. Variations on 90s music are also the most popular search terms that bring people to the blog – who knew 90s music was so hot?
Good Vibrations (Workout Remix) – Power Music (4:54): Mark Wahlberg had a #1 Billboard hit with this 1991 single, back when he was Marky Mark and had a Funky Bunch. The video is still on YouTube. In the mood, yet? Three minutes in, jack up the tension to 4/10 and start climbing.
Strike it Up – Black Box (4:32): This dance tune charted in Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, the UK and USA. It was everywhere in 1991. Take the tension up to 8/10 and climb with the beat. Every 30 seconds, alternate between standing and seated climbs. Jack the tension up to 9/10 for the last minute.
Gonna Make You Sweat – C+C Music Factory (4:03): Another #1 hit from 1991. The opening bars are still played at sporting events. We’re doing lifts: 8/4 counts, 2 min each, tension around 5/10. Place your hands on the bars for balance only – this is all about the legs. Raise and lower yourself in nice controlled movements.
Laila – Dieter Bohlen and Blue System (3:26): Who? This German musician sold an impressive 125 million units worldwide and had 15 #1 hits in Germany, including Du hast mein Herz gebrochen (“You broke my heart,” according to Babelfish.) So how’d I get onto Dieter? I picked up a cassette tape for my Walkman in a bargain bin in St. John’s, Newfoundland. It was called Euro Dance Hits and featured Laila along with a number of other tunes, like Finally (CeCe Peniston), Show Me (Robin S.), and Rhythm is a Dancer (Snap!) and a few others I’ve never been able to track down anywhere else. I listened to that tape on dozens of runs and eventually lost it in a move. One thing I’ll say for old Dieter, he really knows how to make a girl sprint. There are four sprints here (at each chorus): 15/30/30/30 (give or take) at 0:14 – 29, 0:50 – 1:18, 1:54 – 2:23, and 2:37 – 3:07.
What is Love – Haddaway (4:34): Saturday Night Live’s Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan head-bobbed to this 1993 hit in their hilarious movie about two brothers desperate to get into a hot nightcub, A Night at the Roxbury. No head-bobbing here, just fast climbing. Keep the beat.
Mr. Vain – Culture Beat (4:32): Right away, you know you’re in for some sprints:30/40/40 at 0:30 – 0:60, 1:41 – 2:21, and 3:06 – 3:46 with nice 45 second recovery breaks in between. This song topped the charts in twelve countries in 1993.
Rhythm is a Dancer – Snap! (3:24): Single leg training, 2 sets of 45 seconds for each leg. Keep the tension high enough that you’re really glad when it’s time to switch legs – 8/10 or higher. Don’t listen too closely to the lyrics. One line, “I’m serious as cancer when I say rhythm is a dancer,” comes up regularly in polls of the worst song lyric of all time.
I’m Too Sexy – Right Said Fred (2:49): This one’s pure fun. Don’t discount Right Said Fred until you’ve listened to the charming Deeply Dippy, from the same album. We’re doing lifts: 4/8 counts up/down.
Blinded by the Light (Radio Cut) – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and Michael Mind (2:45): For the love of Pete, the lyric is not “wrapped up like a douche.” How do I know this? Exhibit A: the songwriting credit for this one goes to Bruce Springsteen, and I ask you, would the Boss write that? (Bruce’s version on iTunes is so different from this one that they don’t seem to be the same song.) Exhibit B: lyrics websites report that he’s actually singing: “Blinded by the light/revved up like a deuce/another runner in the night.” We’re sprinting for this one, just two, though: 30/45 at 0:37 – 1:07 and 1:52 – 2:37. When the music goes, explode forward – race day effort!
Finally – Ce Ce Peniston (2:50): I will always remember this chirpy 1991 hit for the Australian Outback dance scene in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. In fact, you should watch it right now – it’s unforgettable. Here’s the Youtube link. I’ll wait. Okay, ready to climb? Tension at 6/10.
Sleepy Maggie – Ashley MacIsaac (5:28): This Cape Breton fiddler took Canada by storm in 1995 by infusing Celtic fiddle music with hip hop and dance elements. Mary Jane Lamond is on vocals (they’re in Gaelic.) MacIsaac is breathtakingly talented. He plays with such passion that he can wear out a fiddle bow in a single song. Cool down and stretch, then head back to the future.