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Spinning Music’s Top 5 Playlists of 2008

top51New Year’s always leaves me in a contemplative mood.  Last New Year’s, one of my resolutions was to teach indoor cycling.  I took the training in January 2008 and finished my gym’s mentoring program in April 2008.  A regular class became available almost immediately.  I’ve been teaching ever since and loving every minute on the bike.

Another of my New Year’s resolutions was to join the blogosphere.  I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to blog about.  I was struggling to put together fresh playlists and profiles for my classes each week when I came across J.R. Atwood’s Spinning Mixes blog.  I loved what he’d done – and hardly anyone else was doing it.  I thought to myself, “There’s room for another Spinning music blog!”  Spinning Music was born on a sunny weekend in May 2008 when I should have been riding outside.  I worked pretty much the whole weekend to learn WordPress, download photos, and post the playlists I’d already created.

I didn’t know if anyone else would be interested.  I figured a few friends and some other cycling instructors from my gym might drop by the blog once in a while, and I’d get a chance to learn about blogging while I gained experience teaching indoor cycling.  I was amazed when the blog started generating comments from instructors not only in Canada, but the USA and Europe as well.  I love hearing from you!

I confess, I’ve became more than a little addicted to the blog stats on my dashboard.  This little blog just passed 32,000 views and sometimes get more than 400 views a day.  (I don’t know if that’s good, but it’s a lot more than I expected!)  I haven’t quite figured out what makes one post more popular than another, or why my 90’s playlist is far and away the most popular playlist on the blog.

I promised to post the five most-viewed playlists of 2008 before year end.  Here they are, with the number of page views for each one:

1. Gonna Make You Sweat Spin Mix (43 minutes) 1,481 views

2. Summer Rush Spin Mix (36 minutes) 1030 views

3. Sandstorm Spin Mix (62 minutes) 1006 views

4. Let the Music Play Spin Mix (34 minutes) 941 views

5. Pop Culture Spin Mix (34 minutes) 912 views

Best wishes to all of you for a stellar New Year filled with loving family, good friends, red wine, cappuccino, and as much time on the bike as you can get.


Finding your Bliss in Rat Park

I’m a big fan of Martha Beck’s column in Oprah magazine.  Beck is an author and life coach, and everything she says makes such perfect sense that you think, “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?”  She reminds me of my sister, who is six years younger, and far more mature, than I’ll ever be.

Beck’s January column is called Escape Your Rat Race.  It’s about making change in your life.

Beck starts off by pointing out the obvious: unhappy people find unhealthy ways to cope with the unhappiness in their lives.  She cites a 1981 study by psychologist Bruce Alexander and his colleagues that used two groups of lab rats.  Group 1 rats were isolated in typical laboratory cages.  Group 2 rats got the closest thing to rat paradise that the researchers could come up with: Rat Park.  Rat Park had everything rats could want.  Both groups of rats were given access to morphine.

Not surprisingly, the caged rats took to the morphine like teen girls to a Jonas Brothers concert.  The Rat Park rats?  Not so much.  They tended to stay real.  Even the addicted rats laid off Mister Blue in Rat Park.

Okay, so happy people don’t need drugs.  Not exactly revolutionary.  The real trick is: how to find your own Rat Park?  These lucky-duck Group 2 rats landed in Rat Park with no effort.  Some humans are that fortunate, but most of us have to find – or create – our own version of Rat Park.  That’s the tough part.

And here’s where Beck gets brilliant: she points out that we all have an unerring internal compass that points straight to our own personal Rat Park.  It works like the children’s game Warmer/Colder.  Things that make you feel tense, anxious, unhappy, or like heading for your version of morphine?  Colder.  Things that make you feel happy, excited, energized, alive?  Warmer, baby!  All we have to do is follow those warmer/colder signals.

There’s one catch: anxiety that comes before trying something new, or taking on a challenge.  That’s good anxiety.  Lots of new exercisers find the prospect of going to a gym anxiety-producing, so they avoid it.  Anytime a person changes, there’s a leap of faith involved.  Our job as cycling instructors is to get participants feeling as excited, energized, and alive about exercise as we do, so that hopefully, all of them will find that their personal Rat Park includes regular Spin classes. Happy cycling in 2009!

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Best of 2008 Spin Mix (Version 2) (44 minutes)

This is another Best of 2008 mix for a longer class.  It’s also more challenging, with two GINORMOUS hills, the first a full 13 minute climb that will challenge most riders’ endurance, some bumpy flats, and a second, smaller 8 minute hill before the cool down.

It’s hard to tell what type of riders you’ll get around the holidays.  Most of the riders between Christmas and New Year’s are regulars, but you may also see beginners getting a jump on their New Year’s fitness resolutions.  It’s particularly important at this time of year (and through Valentine’s Day) to encourage riders to go at their own pace, increase the tension only when they feel ready, and take breaks when they need to.

bike-covered-in-snowGoing Wrong (Radio Edit) – Armin van Buuren (3:32):  Dutch DJ van Buuren was the only artist to have two songs in my top 25 list for 2008, this one and In and Out of Love.  Start with easy spinning at low tension, then quicken the pace around 1:13.  This is going to be a great ride!

Give it 2 Me (Paul Oakenfold Edit) – Madonna (5:00):  Madge rocks, and she’s the perfect artist to start off our largest-hill-yet: a wicked, wicked 13 minute climb.  Riders, pace yourselves, and find your groove.  Nice and easy to start, with tension at 4/10, but steadily increasing every minute or so.

Pop Culture (GYR8 Remix) – Creature (3:38): If anything, this fun chaser has even more energy than Madge.  Beginners, take 30-60 seconds to rest.  Everyone else, scale back the tension to 5/10 and keep climbing.

Viva la Vida – Coldplay (4:04): Somewhere, you’ve got to find enough energy to keep climbing.  Close your eyes and focus on your pedal stroke: steady, even, loose shoulders.  It’s just you and the bike.

Shake It – Metro Station (3:00): We did it!  Do a few shoulder rolls and take a drink.  We’ve got 45 seconds for recovery before the first of three sprints: 25/25/45 seconds, at 0:45 – 1:10, 1:36 – 2:01, and 2:17 – 3:00.  Beginners, sit out the first sprint or two – you need to catch your breath.  Advanced riders, do ’em standing, just to show that bike who’s boss.

I Kissed a Girl – Katy Perry (3:01): Back to flats, but it’s bumpy – lifts on 8/4/2 counts, switching after each chorus.  Beginners will want to keep the tension at 4/10 or 5/10; advanced riders may be able to goose it higher, but remember: there’s one more hill to tackle before we can hit the showers.

Disturbia – Rihanna (3:59): Here’s the second hill, half the size of the first one, but still daunting at a full 8 minutes straight up.

Just Dance (RedOne Remix) – Lady GaGa and Kardinal Offishall (4:19): Beginners, take a break for 30-60 seconds.  Advanced riders, increase the tension to 6/10 and match the Lady’s pace.  We’re going to slog to the top.  Increase the tension every 60 seconds, and keep your cadence constant.

Beat It – Fall Out Boy (feat. John Mayer) (3:48): The view is great from the top of the hill, but we’ve got places to go.  Three more sprints before the cool down: 45/45/60 seconds at 0:26 – 1:12, 1:36 – 2:21, and 2:48 – 3:48.  Beginners, sit out the first sprint to recover and do them with a 20% increase in cadence instead of an all out sprint.  Advanced riders, if there’s gas in the tank, do them standing.  Go!

If I Were a Boy – Beyonce (4:09):  Have I mentioned how cool the video for this song is?  It’s on Youtube – watch it.  It’s had 26,733,444 views since its release on October 14, 2008.  Cool down and stretch.

Free Fallin’ (Live) – John Mayer (4:24): An extra cool down song.

If you’re not a purist who insists on using only 2008 tunes in a Best of 2008 mix, there’s a great end-of-year cool down song you might choose instead: Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen).  The original is by Baz Luhrmann.  His original isn’t on iTunes, though iTunes does have several other versions available.  I used the 7:00 minute version from Sun Tan.  There’s also a version by 411 that runs 5:39 and is more suitable for a warmup.

Got other ideas?  I’d love to see your Best of 2008 playlist – you can post it on the Reader Playlists page.

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Best of 2008 Spin Mix (Version 1) (36 minutes)

Back from a family visit over the holidays and itching to get back on the bike after a week away from it.  I did take in one Spin class while I was away, at an official Spinning centre.  I wanted to see how it differed from the other classes I’ve attended.  Mostly, there’s more mind-body emphasis.

red-coat-girl-on-bike Taught two classes today, a 30-minute lunch class, and a 40-minute after work class.  I used Best of 2008 playlists for both classes.  Since they’re slightly different, I’ll post both of them.  This one is the 30-minute class.  It’s two large hills with some bumpy terrain in between.  It’s a challenging class, but then we have a great deal of chocolate/stuffing/gravy/pie to atone for.

Bounce with Me – Kreesha Turner (3:08): It’s impossible not to move to Turner’s infectious single.  Warm up your legs with some easy spinning at a 2/10 tension.  Throw in some dynamic stretches.

Disturbia – Rihanna (3:59): Here comes the first hill: an 8 minute climb.  Start off at 4/10 (pretty easy) and increase it every 60 seconds.  You’ll finish around 8/10.

Just Dance (RedOne Remix) – Lady GaGa and Kardinal Offishall (4:19): Beginners, take 30-45 seconds for recovery; advanced riders, leave your tension where it is and keep climbing, slowing your pace to match the beat.  Getting to the top of the hill feels so good!

Beat It (feat. John Mayer) – Fall Out Boy (3:48): Sprints!  Reduce the tension to 4/10 or 5/10 to head down the hill.  There are three sprints here: 45/45/60 seconds at 0:26 – 1:12, 1:36 – 2:21, and 2:48 – 3:48.  Take up your cadence to race day pace.  Beginners, and those not looking to leave some turkey stuffing on the floor, increase your cadence by 20%.

I Kissed a Girl – Katy Perry (3:01): Like it or hate it, this song was part of the musical landscape in 2008.  We’re going to use it to cover some bumpy ground and do some lifts: 1 minute each at 8/4/2 counts.  There’s a natural switch after each chorus.

Viva la Vida – Coldplay (4:04): We’ve arrived at the second hill, another 8 minute climb.  Take the tension to 5/10.  Once again, increase the tension every 60 seconds.

Pop Culture (GYR8 Remix) – Creature (3:38):  Take the tension back to 5/10 for this fast climb to the top.

Shake It – Metro Station (3:00): Spin classes all over the world were sprinting to this tune in 2008, and we’re going to do the same.  First, 45 seconds for recovery.  Three sprints: 25/25/45 seconds.  They’re at 0:45 – 1:10, 1:36 – 2:01, and 2:17 – 3:00.  Advanced riders, take them standing for a greater challenge.

Old School – Hedley (3:41): Wind up with this anthem from an upstart Canadian band.  Slow your cadence, take off some (but not all) of the tension, and stretch.

Over the Rainbow – Jason Castro (3:30): An extra stretching song for those who want a little more time.

Lots of Canadian music in this mix: Kreesha Turner, Kardinal Offishall, Creature, and Hedley all hail from the Great White North (which wasn’t very white today – bucking all trends, it was sunny and a balmy 11 degrees C.)

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Spinning Music’s Top 25 Spinning Tunes of 2008

top-25-spinning-tunes1Here we go, Spinning Music’s first annual list of the top 25 Spinning tunes of the year, judged on sheer spintensity.

1.  Disturbia – Rihanna

2.  Viva la Vida – Coldplay

3.  Just Dance – Lady GaGa (feat. Colby O’Donis)

4.  Dangerous – Kardinal Offishall

5.  Going Wrong – Armin van Buuren (with DJ Shah feat. Chris Jones)

6.  Bounce with Me – Kreesha Turner

7.  Beat It – Fall Out Boy (feat. John Mayer)

8.  If I Were a Boy – Beyonce

9.  Old School – Hedley

10.  Pop Culture (GYR8 Remix) – Creature

11.  Give it 2 Me (Paul Oakenfold Edit) – Madonna

12.  Shake It – Metro Station

13.  I’m Ready – Wyclef Jean

14.  I Kissed a Girl – Katy Perry

15.  Sober – P!nk

16.  Free Fallin’ (Live) – John Mayer

17.  4 Minutes – Madonna (feat. Justin Timberlake and Timbaland)

18.  Pocketful of Sunshine – Natasha Bedingfield

19.  Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis

20.  In and Out of Love – Armin van Buuren (feat. Sharon den Adel)

21.  Forever – Chris Brown

22.  Beautiful U R – Deborah Cox

23.  Black & Gold (Marcussen Album Version) – Sam Sparro

24.  Let It Rock – Kevin Rudolf and L’il Wayne

25.  Over the Rainbow – Jason Castro

Now, there are some great songs that were popular in 2008 but are missing from the list, songs like Piece of Me – Britney Spears, Money Honey – State of Shock, Big Girls Don’t Cry – Fergie, Tongue Tied – Faber Drive, Fake It – Seether, Paralyzer – Finger Eleven, Seven Day Fool – Jully Black, and Yellow Brick Road – Raine Maida.  All of them were on my initial shortlist, but they didn’t meet the one requirement: the song had to be released in North America (Canada and/or the United States) in 2008.  All of these songs came out in 2007.

How about playlists? On December 31 I’ll post the Top 5 Spinning Music Playlists of 2008 (by number of views).

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Fitness Magazine Top 20 Spinning Tunes of 2008

My January 2009 issue of Fitness Magazine includes their Top 100 Workout Tunes of 2008, with 20 tunes each for Spinning, running, walking, weight training, and yoga. I couldn’t find the article on their website to include a link, so I’m reproducing the top 20 Spinning songs here.  What do you think?

1. Magic Touch – Robin Thicke (feat. Mary J. Blige)

2.  Explode – Uh Huh Her

3.  Closer – Ne Yo

4.  It’s Not My Time – 3 Doors Down

5.  4 Minutes – Madonna (feat. Justin Timberlake and Timbaland)

6.  See You Again (Live) – Miley Cyrus

7.  So What? – P!nk

8.  Use Somebody – Kings of Leon

9.  American Boy – Estelle (feat. Kanye West)

10.  Green Light – John Legend (feat. Andre 3000)

11.  In The Ayer – Flo Rida (feat.

12.  Time to Pretend – MGMT

13.  Spotlight – Jennifer Hudson

14.  Put On – Young Jeezy (feat. Kanye West)

15.  Dangerous – Kardinal Offishall (feat. Akon)

16.  Addicted – Saving Abel

17.  Baby (Rock Remix) – LL Cool J (feat. Ritchie Sambora)

18.  Swagga Like Us – Jay-Z & T.I. (feat. Kanye West and L’il Wayne)

19.  Trainwreck – Demi Lovato

20.  La Femme Parallel – Thievery Corporation (feat. LouLou)