So you’re on the treadmill, the elliptical, the exercise bike, you name it, and you look down at your iPod and realize you have no idea what you should listen to. Or, maybe you find yourself constantly pressing the next button in search of the perfect song to keep you motivated during your run. This is where workout playlists come in.

Lisa Larson, owner of Rhythm Cycle in ScottsdaleSome love building their own workout playlist while others simply don’t know where to begin. So, we sought help from an expert in fitness world who also knows a thing or two about music, Lisa Larson, owner of Rhythm Cycle studios in Scottsdale.

Larson used to work for American composer Danny Elfman, who created “The Simpsons” main title theme as well as “Batman” and “Spiderman” movie themes and scores for Tim Burton films.

“One of my duties while working for Danny included organizing his iTunes music library,” Larson says. “He has a huge and diverse library of music.”

And since then, the music hasn’t stopped. Larson relies heavily on workout playlists that help guide her indoor cycling classes at Rhythm Cycle, which is all about extreme riding (cycling) to the rhythm and beat of the music. The method was developed to maximize calorie burn (700 to 1,200 per hour), get in great cardio shape and have a blast working out to motivating music. A one-hour ride is equivalent to 25 road miles.

“Riding to the beat of the music is key to our riders for weight loss and overall conditioning success,” Larson says. “A good beat can carry you through a heavy climb or motivate you to pick up the pace for sprint intervals.”

Here are Larson’s tips for creating your own workout playlist:

  • A well-rounded playlist should include songs appropriate for all phases of your workout: motivating and cheerful warm-up, workout portion, cool-down and post-workout tune.
  • Individual music choices will vary but every playlist should still include upbeat, happy songs. Beyond that, a playlist can focus on a specific era, a specific musical style (rock, jazz, soul, etc.) or a specific length of song (all short or all long.) Conversely, you can always put together an eclectic mix. Just remember that variety is the spice of life; so don’t be afraid to change up your formulas as well as your music style.
  • Let the title of your song be your cue as to how the next section of your workout is going to change in pace and intensity, and begin to change your mental focus to match that.

Need a little inspiration? This is what Larson’s listening to right now:

Bob Marley and The Wailers — “Lively Up Yourself”
Calvin Harris — “Let’s Go”
New Radicals — “You Get What You Give”
R. Kelly — “Happy People”
One Direction — “Live While We’re Young”
Cassadee Pope — “Are You Happy Now”
Bruno Mars — “Locked Out of Heaven”
Gary Clark Jr. — “Ain’t No Messing Around”
Selected of God — “Lose Youself”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis — “Thrift Shop”
Pitbull — “Don’t Stop the Party”
Tones On Tail — “Go (Club Mix)”
Prometheus — “Triplets”
Spike — “Need You Tonight (Electro Remix)”
Nina Simone & Felix Da Housecat — “Sinnerman (Felix Da Housecat’s Heavenly House Mix)”
DJ Mangoo — “Eurodancer”
Obadiah Parker — “Hey Ya”

RhythmCycle Spin Studio
9343 E. Shea Blvd., #145, Scottsdale
(480) 661-7746