Do you train with music? When I just ran (and swam), before I was a member of a gym (imagine!), I used to be sniffy about training with earphones in. “But what about the beautiful sounds of nature?” I’d ask. “Why not lose yourself in the silence?”
Nuts to that. I can listen to nature when I’m walking the dog. Nowadays, the only training I do without music is cycling and swimming, both for rather obvious safety reasons (although I have reviewed a number of waterproof MP3s for triathlon magazines, but the old-school swimmer in me still thinks swimming to music is a bit…radical 😉 )
It’s a sad day for me when my iPod runs out of charge partway through a gym session or a run. Whether I’m listening to podcasts (great for long, steady runs) or the warblings of Beyonce and co, I find that having something to listen to really does motivate me to keep going or to try harder.
Which is why I was happy to go along to the press launch of a new CD. Now before you think “what’s going to be great about this?”, bear with me. First of all, this CD (well it’s three CDs actually) is far more than just music. It’s a really good deal and I’d probably buy it if I hadn’t been given a promo copy (thank you, Leila). Secondly, it’s been done very cleverly, with folk like you and me in mind. Let me tell you about it.
The Workout Mix 2011 is 3 CDs of current music (original artists) mixed to give you 45-60 minute playlists which gradually ramp up the BPM to suit your workout – building, peaking and then giving you time to bring the pace down. There’s a bonus feature in the shape of a downloadable 30 minute training session from “PT to the stars” Matt Roberts, and you also get a free Fitness First gym pass and access to a training plan. It’s a great package, I think, and will be very reasonably priced. Two of the CDs are for cardio workouts and the third is for strength work or endurance sessions. I’ve been listening to them for the past couple of weeks and really really like them.
The Fit Writer: Why do you think music helps so many people with training and mental performance?
Matt Roberts: I think it’s an instinctive thing; we move in time to the cadence and rhythm of music. Without realising it, music can help you speed up. On the other hand, some music can flatten your performance and decrease your motivation. So choose your tunes wisely! It goes right back to music being used in gym classes, but it works for running and solo gym workouts in just the same way. The music builds until it reaches an overload point where it helps you push harder, go faster. With these CDs I’ve made sure the tunes build up really naturally, then peak, then decrease gently. They’re between 45-60 minutes, ideal for most workouts, and there’s stuff in there too for interval training (see the website).
TFW: How does the bonus feature – you motivating the listener during their session – work?
MR: I’ve done a voiceover which motivates you, keeps you going and pushes you a little, whilst giving you useful tips. It’s essentially like having me there doing some PT except I’m just in your ear! I’ve taken everything I’ve learned about what motivates PT clients and put them here: we know that clients work harder with me (or whoever their PT is) talking to them and working alongside them. The idea is that it will give you a lift and bring something to your session which you might struggle to find if you were going it alone. It takes what I do with my own clients and puts it onto a download for anyone to access.
TFW: You’re from a sprinting background, aren’t you? How do you manage to fit in your own training these days? What sort of thing do you like doing?
MR: I always make time to train – partly because I have to (I couldn’t be a PT and not train myself) and partly because I absolutely love it and really miss it when I don’t do it. I feel much more energised when I train. I work from 6am to 8pm most days and am really busy, but I just make time for my own training. I try to get a session in at least 4 days per week, and I make sure I work really hard during that time.
TFW: And what’s on your playlist?
MR: All sorts! I have a very eclectic mix. Kings of Leon, Coldplay, Black Eyed Peas, David Guetta… I make lots of playlists, particularly for running. And, yes, I do use the CDs myself! The music is all really current and it’s a fun mix.
TFW: I blogged about fitness trends recently. What do you think will be big in 2011?
MR: The TRX and other suspension trainers are brilliant and will continue to be a hot bit of kit next year I think. They’re suitable for anyone and can be put to so many diverse uses: home, the gym, hotel rooms – you don’t need much space. You can use them to get a really decent full body workout in and they’re a brilliant fallback if you are pushed for time/space/kit. I also think everyone should have a good HRM with GPS: it gives great feedback and is a good motivational tool. There are a lot of apps out there which I think will be huge once they’re perfected. None are quite there yet but I think apps in general will be the biggest thing in the industry in the near future.
TFW: It’s really cold today. I hate being cold. How do you get around training outside when it’s snowing and icy? Or is it tough luck?
MR: (laughs) There’s always something you can do, regardless of temperature and weather, and that’s what I tell my clients. It’s important to do cardio outside if you’re training for a specific event which demands that kind of training. But, of course it’s OK to head inside and replace that session with something else. A gym gives you that flexibility. And you know what? If you can’t get outside to run, don’t worry about it. Just relax, enjoy an extra bit of rest, or come up with some other way to move. Your fitness isn’t going anywhere in just a couple of days. Having said that, I used the recent snow to give my clients some really challenging sessions. Doing drills in the snow certainly shakes things up! So I’d say, if possible, adapt and get on with it. Get the correct kit and clothing and off you go. I bet you’ll be glad you went once you get out of the door.
Thanks for your time and advice, Matt. It was nice to meet you.
Tell me about your MP3. What’s your favourite playlist? Which podcasts do you listen to? Does a really funny song ever come on whilst you’re in the middle of a workout (This happens to me loads, I swear I don’t even put those songs on there in the first place…)