Few things can spark and sustain a good workout the way music can, and those playlist preferences offer a compelling view of the listener's personality. This week, we get a peek at the workout playlist of New York Times magazine writer Frank Bruni:
All my life I've had an enormous appetite and loved food a bit too much, and all my life I've fought the wages of that. Exercise is my main weapon in the battle.
I try to run a few times a week, and to hit the gym another two days. I don't work out every single day, and I could be in much better shape. But at least three and usually four times a week, I work up a sweat: on a footpath in Central or Riverside parks; on a treadmill; at the Training Ground, a private training center on West 72nd Street, just two blocks from my apartment, where I've been using the same trainer, Andrew Ginsburg, for about two years. I feel I get much more done in an hour with him than I would in 90 minutes or even two hours on my own. It helps me enormously to have someone egging me on, revving me up, making sure I don't cadge five minutes at the water fountain after every three minutes of exertion. I'm a pitiably slothful sort deep inside.
Because Andrew's a total mensch and because I'm something of a veteran at the Training Ground, I enjoy iPod playlist rights, and am constantly making song mixes that I hope will keep me diverted, happy, motivated. Here's one I've played a few times recently. It goes for 66 minutes, so if Andrew and I exceed an hour, the music doesn't stop.
- "Islands," The xx. I love the xx, and this song, slinky and with a medium tempo, allows the pace of things to build.
- "Youth Knows No Pain," Lykke Li. She's a favorite, and this has an anthemic quality that's rousing.
- "Over the Hills and Far Away," Led Zeppelin. Just a great, great song that makes me smile, even during a hammer curl or a dip.
- "Crazy," Seal. Peppy in the right way.
- "Burial," Miike Snow. This song is just pure, crazy-delicious ear candy. You can't feel tired or grumpy when it's on.
- "Superhero," Garrison Starr. Same as above.
- "White Wedding," Billy Idol. It just works. Don't ask me why.
- "Edge of Seventeen," Stevie Nicks. Probably the only song of hers that has a pulse-pounding aspect. Propulsive. Motivating. And a great song.
- "The Ghost Inside," Broken Bells. There's a repurposed-disco underbelly to this. Amusing. Uplifting.
- "Push It," Garbage. I probably put more Garbage than anything else on gym and running play lists. They just totally do it for me.
- "When I Grow Up," Garbage. Case in point.
- "(Don't Fear) the Reaper," Blue Oyster Cult. Can't leave Zeppelin holding down the classic rock fort on its own.
- "Polyester Bride," Liz Phair. One of my favorite cuts from my favorite album of hers (WhiteChocolateSpaceEgg).
- "Amazing," George Michael. I can't explain. I won't try.
- "Left Outside Alone," Anastacia. This and she never hit in the U.S. the way they did in Europe, where I was living when I discovered them. A great, grinding, heart-jolting, excellent workout song.
- "Heart of Stone," The Raveonettes. More ear candy, and something slower for the wind-down of the workout.
Frank Bruni, a staff writer for the New York Times magazine, was the newspaper's restaurant critic for more than five years, from June 2004 to August 2009, and contributes an every-other-week column on the drinking life, "The Tipsy Diaries," to the newspaper's Weekend section. He has also been the newspaper's Rome Bureau Chief and a White House correspondent. He is the author of several best sellers, including, most recently, a memoir about his odd relationship with food over time, "Born Round: a Story of Family, Food and a Ferocious Appetite." He is 46 and lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.