My love of cheesy hits from days gone by is no secret. Yes, I’m the girl who channels her inner Vanilla Ice for karaoke, and when Rock Band comes out, I almost always opt for songs that would most kindly be described as “old school.” Best album I ever owned? Jock Jams, Volume 1 (natch!).
Is there a direct correlation between musical cheese and motivation? Well, I’m no scientist, but in my research (which has consisted of playing a bunch of my favorite songs from the 80s and early 90s), many of the songs we now consider guilty pleasures probably became popular in the first place because of their catchy beats. And, even though they’ve moved from the realm of the popular into the ironic, those catchy beats are still great when you’re trying to get yourself moving, making them perfect for a workout playlist!
Popular VideoHere's what happened when the Day Without Immigrants protesters showed up for work the next day. Do you agree?
Guilty Pleasures Playlist
- (4:11) Eye of the Tiger, Survivor: This is a terrific song for a warm-up jog. From the first BAH, bah bah BAH, bah bah BAH, bah bah BAAAAAH, your adrenaline will start pumping and you’ll have no problem getting moving. Get your whole body warm by pulling a Rocky and throwing some punches while you run it out.
- (4:33) Good Vibrations, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch: The video proves that this beat is perfect for strength training. And no, getting your heart rate up by watching a shirtless Mark Wahlberg do bicep curls doesn’t count as a workout.
- (4:14) Baby Got Back, Sir Mix-A-Lot: Without a doubt, this classic calls for some lower-body work. Mix lunges, squats and belt kicks to tone your thighs and shape your beautiful booty. If you also want to shake it (shake it!), shake it (shake it!), shake that healthy butt, well, nobody here’s gonna stop you.
- (2:59) I’m Too Sexy, Right Said Fred: What’s a workout without taking a minute to appreciate the fruits of your labor? Keep your heart pumping with some super sexy runway walking. Make sure to pose at the end of the catwalk!
- (3:20) Walk Like an Egyptian, The Bangles: The rapid beats make this a great song to listen to during speedwork—you might even find yourself sprinting naturally. Break it into intervals by pausing to slow down and, you know, walk. (Like an Egyptian.)
- (3:47) Turning Japanese, The Vapors: Here’s another fast-paced song to get your feet moving. If you’re at the gym, switch things up and jump on the stationary bike, pushing as fast as you can during the chorus and catching your breath in between. And, despite what you’ve heard, the song isn’t really about a certain form of solitary exercise; it’s about going crazy. Honest.
- (3:15) Dancing With Myself, Billy Idol: To continue sweating while switching it up, this is a great tune for just letting loose. Clear a space for yourself and break out your best dance moves. Jump, pump your arms, fling your hair around. Fact: The sillier you look, the more calories you burn.
- (3:30) Footloose, Kenny Loggins: Fancy footwork is a great way to increase speed and agility, and this is just the song to pump you up for it. Make use of what’s around you—step up and down on a bench or step, bounce in and out of a hula hoop—whatever keeps your toes tapping at a crazy pace!
- (3:54) Relax, Frankie Goes to Hollywood: Take things down a notch with this 1984 mega-hit. Do some slow, easy strength training or stick with the cardio by taking it to a walk. In other words, relax!
- (3:43) Whoomp! (There It Is), Tag Team: Grab your big boy weights, ’cause it’s about to get heavy. That is, if you can keep yourself from breaking into the Roger Rabbit and its contemporary dances. (For the record, I totally can’t.)
- (2:39) Jump, Kris Kross: You know what to do! No, I don’t mean put your pants on backward (what was that all about, anyway?). Jump rope! Bonus points for some criss-cross applesauce action.
- (3:53) What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock?), Fu-Schnickens and Shaquille O’Neal: Any ballers in the house? Whether you’ve got skillz on the court or not, drop your butt into a squat and do some defensive shuffles from one side of the room to the other, stopping to jump up like you’re blocking a shot every time you hear a phrase you don’t quite understand. Which will probably be a lot.
- (4:55) The Final Countdown, Europe: You’re hitting the home stretch! Take a few minutes to access what’s tired and what parts of your body are still raring to go. Stretch where it feels tight, but otherwise, keep moving. Playing air guitar (or air drums, or air synthesizer) totally counts.
- (2:50) Wannabe, Spice Girls: Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want—a rockin’ body, and I’m betting you do, too. Let this feel-good girl power song fuel the last leg of your workout. Whatever exercise you do, make Sporty Spice proud and stay strong until the end.
- (4:23) Push It, Salt-n-Pepa: Give your inner dirty girl a workout and strengthen your abs with some ridiculously exaggerated pelvic thrusts. Or, if goofy moves in public embarrass you, (don’t hang out with me, and) just push yourself doing whatever training you prefer!
- (3:56) Ice, Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice: If you can keep from doing the Vanilla Ice slide, use this song to start to cool down (get it? Vanilla Ice? Cool down?) and start stretching.
Got any favorite guilty pleasures I missed? Please share, because not only could I have listed about 50 more of my favorite cheesy songs here, but I love checking out what other people have hidden in the depths of their iPods! —Kristen