Workout (and Everyday) Playlists to Follow on Spotify (+Giveaway)

Workout (and everyday) playlists to follow on Spotify

WEARING | Reebok zip-up, Varley bra (sold out in black, print version here) & Adidas hat all c/o asos

I go through phases with music sources. I used to be a diehard SoundCloud user, but I feel like Spotify has seriously stepped up its remix game so that’s what I’ve been using for music lately. I don’t have time to spend hours going down the rabbit hole of music suggestions (when I taught spin I could spend an entire DAY doing this), so instead I find new music by following fellow fitness instructors and Spotify’s curated playlists.

For myself, I organize my music into a handful of large playlists to which I continuously add music each week. So the following playlists of mine have music in them from over the past several years. As you scroll down, you get the newest stuff. And if you choose to follow them, you’ll always be seeing new songs added that fit the general genre.

Workout Music for Teaching at Btone

The songs on this playlist are upbeat but not too intense. Some Top 40, but mostly remixes and dance music that falls shy of the stuff you’d hear at a nightclub to (hopefully) appeal to a wider range of clients.

My Personal Workout Music

This one has more nightclub-y stuff (not all though). The turned-up version of my teaching workout music. Not all the songs are EDM and dance music, but most of it is as that’s my favorite for my own workouts.

Music to Play at the Studio before Class Starts

Songs on here are upbeat but a bit more chill than what I’d play during class. Some throwbacks, Top 40, mellow(ish) dance and even alternative songs thrown in. This is what I play in the studio as clients arrive and in between classes.

Cool Down Songs

Chill, mellow music to play while stretching after class.

Everyday Music for Workout, Running Errands, Long Car Rides, Etc.

There’s a lot of overlap between this playlist and my Before Class playlist. I listen to this one on shuffle almost every day.


Again, the first songs you’re going to see in those embedded playlists were added years ago. The newer stuff get populated at the bottom. 🙂 Now speaking of working out …

I’m giving away a workout with Shaun T!

If you live in the Connecticut area, I’ve got an awesome giveaway for you over on Instagram! This Sunday, Shaun T (you probably know him from his Insanity workouts) will be at Mohegan Sun for a “ShaunTervention” that includes not just an hour-long workout but Q&A and chance to meet and take photos with Shaun T. Full event details HERE.

Enter to win by leaving a comment on my latest Instagram post, embedded below. Your comment is just your favorite emoji (easy!) and then follow @SamsoniteUSA (they’re generously providing the ticket) and you’re entered. Because of the location barrier, there won’t be too many entries so your chance of winning is a lot better!

If you’re hesitant because the giveaway is only for one ticket and you don’t want to go alone, fear not. I’ll be there! We can arrange to meet up beforehand and workout together. Winner will be contacted tonight.

Foam Rolling for Runners

Love to run? Keep your body injury-free with foam rolling for runners.

This post is sponsored by HoMedics® as part of the #NotGonnaStop campaign. All opinions–as always!–are my own. I appreciate your support of the brands that make this blog possible!

In a recent Instagram post, I talked about how I pretty much completely stopped running after crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon last April. I had ZERO desire to go for even short runs so … I didn’t. There are so many other ways to get a quality cardio workout in so why force running? I instead turned to spin, boxing, bootcamp and HIIT workouts for a sweat and for the last year have probably only gone for a handful of runs, none of which were longer than four or five miles.

Maybe it’s the warm weather creeping in or the fact that it’s marathon weekend in Boston, but it’s only just recently that I’ve started to get the itch to run again. And like with most activities you haven’t done in a while, the first couple long(er) runs left me super sore last week (my calves!!).

Foam rolling is important for mobility and injury prevention, and I’m never more vigilant about doing it than when I’m running regularly. With perfect timing, I was recently sent a package of HoMedics® Sports Recovery Massagers (available on Target.com!) and have been putting them to good use.

Love to run? Keep your body injury-free with foam rolling for runners.What you won’t be able to see in these pictures is that all the HoMedics® Sports Recovery Massagers include vibration for a deeper, more effective, more hurts-so-good massage. I especially like using the vibrating option when I’m pinpointing a knot. I’ll roll over the muscle first and when I hit a sweet spot, turn on the vibration and press firmly on it for 20-30 seconds.

Everyone can benefit from foam rolling, but with the running spark reignited in me and the Boston Marathon on Monday, let’s go over some muscles to focus on in particular if you’re a runner.

Foam Rolling for Runners

The following muscles are the ones I show the most love with the foam roller when I’m running frequently. Every body is different and we’re all working with different muscle imbalances, injuries and workout regimens so think of this as a general guide, not an exact foam rolling prescription for you individually. Especially if you’re injured, check with a doctor or PT before whipping out the foam rollerit can makes things worse to roll directly on an injury.

You’ll want to spend at least 1-2 minutes on each muscle, slowly rolling up and down, stopping when you hit a sweet spot (knot). Apply pressure to those knots for 20-30 seconds before continuing the larger rolling motions.

I’m using the HoMedics® Gladiator™ Vibration Foam Roller in the below pictures which has battery-operated vibration for an even deeper massage. There are three vibration intensities to choose from and I usually stay on the lowest one while doing the big rolling and then the highest for pinpointing knots. The roller also has multiple foam textures on its surface so you get a variety of sensations. It also has a hidden compartment so that you can store your keys, ear buds, etc. if you’re bringing it to the gym.

Love to run? Keep your body injury-free with foam rolling for runners.

Quads | Unless my quads are particularly tight, I typically roll one leg at a time so to increase the pressure. As pictured at the start of this post, I’ll also sometimes use The HoMedics® Vertex Vibration Stick Roller which has six spinning rollers and is of a harder material than the HoMedics® Gladiator™ Vibration Foam Roller. I roll up and down the center; up and down at a slight angle to the right; up and down at a slight angle to the left.

Adductors | When rolling out the adductors, place the foam roller lengthwise alongside you and come into a half frog position. 

Calves | With the other muscles, foam rolling is a hurts-so-good feeling. With my calves, it’s full on torture. A long time ago I blogged about my experience getting a runner’s assessment and the trainer working on me actually called over her colleague to watch what was happening with my calves because it was literally as if she were rolling over marbles. Oy vey. When I’m holding on a knot (which is every centimeter), I’ll do so with my foot flexed and then with it pointed to really try to work it loose.

Glutes | I’ll cross my leg over the knee to better hit the piriformis (sometimes I feel like a ball is more effective), but when I do the glute max and med, I usually like having the leg out straight.

TFL / IT Band | When it comes to the IT Band, you need to think about foam rolling the muscles to which it attaches. I usually start with my glutes and TFL and then gradually make my way down towards the tibia. As I roll down the IT Band, I don’t roll directly on my outer thigh, but rather lean my body forward at an angle so it’s more the outer/front thigh area.

Love to run? Keep your body injury-free with foam rolling for runners.

Last but not least—that’s an understatement, actually. Last and BEST, the feet. I could massage my feet all day. The HoMedics® Atlas Vibration Acu-Node Massager offers a gentle vibration and its acu-node texture delivers pinpointed pressure that my arches love.

All these HoMedics® Sports Recovery Massagers and more are available at Target.com, HoMedics.com and in-store at Rite Aid.

Love to run? Keep your body injury-free with foam rolling for runners.

What’s the most painful (in a “good” way) muscle/muscle group for you to foam roll? Anyone like me and say calves?!

 

Fundraising Advice for Everyone Running on a Charity Team

fundraising-advice-charity-runners

A bit of a random post today, but since it’s that time of year again when you can start applying to run the Boston Marathon with a charity team (more info on the BAA’s website HERE if you want to pursue that), I thought it’d be fitting. The post really applies to anyone fundraising for anything though.

You might recall I had a fairly–ok, extremely–tough time with the fundraising part of running the marathon this year. I was required to raise $7,500 for MABVI in order to get a bib and while I did reach the goal, I had 7,500 emotional meltdowns along the way. I was in a constant state of stress and didn’t feel like myself for months (that sounds dramatic but seriously everything was off–I was like a Bizzaro World Nicole). It was worth it in the end and I had an amazing race day but to be perfectly honest I wouldn’t do it again (the fundraising anyway–I’d run another marathon). 

I don’t mean to scare you off though because it doesn’t have to be that way! I went about it all wrong, learned a lot, and while I won’t be doing it again, I also wouldn’t discourage others from giving it a go. If you’re like me and really uncomfortable with fundraising but feeling like this is your year to run Boston (or any marathon on a charity team) I’ve got some advice for you …

Fundraising Advice from a Person Who Sucked at It

Find a personal connection to the charity with which you’re running. Immediately.

It may be obvious. Your mother passed away from breast cancer and you’re running for Dana-Farber. But it doesn’t have to be–something it took me months to fully understand when I ran last year. When I heard Team With A Vision members talking about the struggles that come with visual impairment–joblessness, depression, isolation, loss of independence–that’s when the personal connection clicked for me. I didn’t have any visually impaired family members or close friends, but did connect to those ancillary issues that can come as a result.  Remember, all charity causes are your cause because of our bigger, shared human experience.

Asking for money can be uncomfortable, but when that personal connection is there for you, it becomes a lot easier to do. You don’t just know the money goes to a worthy cause–you feel it and understand it.

Still feel uncomfortable asking for money? Make this your daily mantra: This is not a pyramid scheme. I am not selling age-defying skin serums or supplements on Facebook.

A major issue I faced was mentally grouping myself in with all the people relentlessly promoting Beachbody, Isagenix, You Name It on Facebook. I was reluctant to post about my fundraiser because I felt like a salesperson and that everyone would be annoyed by me. Asking people to donate to charity is completely different from asking people to buy something that then fattens your personal paycheck. Don’t even entertain the notion that there are similarities.

Find out if your company has a donation match policy.

Some companies (especially larger corporations) will match charitable donations you make (or at least a percentage of them). That’s huge! Just be clear on the policies. Usually it’s a match of donations you personally make, not the funds you raise. If this is the case, you can have friends and family donate directly to YOU rather than your charity so that YOU write one, big check for the combined sum, which your company may then match. Or maybe that’s shady? Your call (haha). Reach out to HR and ask about this.

Start early. Start with events.

Organizing events–charity fitness classes, happy hours, etc.–is an awesome way to fundraise because the donor is getting something in return (in addition to the obvious fulfillment they’ll feel from supporting a worthy cause). They’d be spending $30 on a boutique fitness class anyway, so why not have that money go to charity? I recommend doing these early on in your fundraising because they can take a lot of time and energy to organize. If you’re putting together an event at the same time you’re dedicating three hours each Saturday morning to your final long training runs, it can get overwhelming.

Some tips for fitness events:

  • If you’re going the fitness class route, reach out to spin studios or other high-capacity fitness centers. Depending on class size, you can raise upwards of $2,000 from just one charity fitness event! Definitely don’t discount smaller studios, but if you’re working full-time, training and fundraising, I get that it can be desirable to hit your goal in as few events as possible.
  • Think about incorporating refreshments and raffle prizes so that you can increase the suggested donation per attendee. You’d be amazed at the value-add free booze brings (haha). Most liquor stores would be happy to donate to the event. Offer a cocktail mixed with fresh juice after the workout to turn it from a normal class to a special event. Also think about reaching out to local vendors for product/service donations to be raffled. Even if a company isn’t willing to donate money, they may be able to contribute a hard product (dinner for two at a restaurant, retail gift card, etc.). At the end of the workout, as everyone sips on a cocktail, draw names for the raffle prizes you’ve collected. Everyone loves winning free stuff! If a spin class is normally $28 at the studio (going on Boston prices here), you can charge upwards of $50 for the event if you include refreshments and raffle prizes along with it.

If you’re a local reader running for charity this year–holler at me! I’d love to teach a group fitness class to help you hit your fundraising goal. pumpsandiron@gmail.com ← seriously, don’t be shy. I want to help. (I just don’t want to do the fundraising myself. Ever. Again. LOL).

Send an email to family members and friends a day or two before the big day.

Often it’s not that your loved ones don’t want to donate; it’s just that they forget or put it off. I know I’m guilty of it! I see a friend post about a fundraiser on their Facebook page and I think “That’s awesome! I’m going to donate to that tomorrow when my paycheck comes through.” Then I forget. If you’re worried about pestering people who haven’t yet donated, wait until a couple days before the race to reach out again. The immediacy of the event will get people excited and they’ll typically donate on the spot. The email I sent out to friends and family the day before the race brought in over $1,500 in donations!

Tips for composing the email:

  • Be heartfelt but brief–get to the point. With the exception of your grandma, no one reads these days–we’re a culture of skimmers. That being said, try to touch upon the following …

Update on how the training has been + why the charity is important to both you and the people whom it supports + how to donate + sincere thank you

  • Make it easy to donate. Include a link to your online fundraising page as well as all the info needed if they’d prefer to donate via check. If you’re a twenty-something reading this you might be thinking Check? What’s a check? But some people understandably don’t feel comfortable entering their credit card info online. Don’t assume everyone will donate via webpage.
  • Add a picture! Embed a picture of you training along with the email, or if you’ve already picked up your bib number, a picture of you holding it with a big smile on your face. Family and friends will love it. Well, your college buddies might tease you, but your extended family will love it. 😉

Don’t think of the money as a price to be paid for running.

If you’re a few months into fundraising, stressing the F out and thinking this is not worth a bib, you’ve got to change your mindset. If you can focus on the good you’re doing for others, you’re going to get way more out of the experience anyway–not just the opportunity to race, but that feel-good fulfillment that comes from being of service to those in need. It might sound cheesy but charitable activities really do benefit the person doing them as much as they benefit the people for which they’re being done.

If you’re a blogger and plan to use your site for fundraising, do it the *legal* way.

How could fundraising for charity possibly be ILLEGAL?? I guess I was naive thinking that when I decided to host some kickass giveaway for my fundraising on the blog. I got some of the brands I work with to donate awesome products and services and figured I’d have people make a small donation in exchange for giveaway entries. Wrong. The intentions may be good, but it’s the way in which you go about it that gets a little hairy. Asking people to pay money (even if it’s a donation to a non-profit) in exchange for an entry into a giveaway is technically a form of gambling.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage your online platform! Ashley shared with me an awesome charity auction she did on her blog that would be a perfect option. Because only the highest bidder/winner makes the donation, it takes the “gambling” aspect out of it. You’re not paying for anything unless you get it.

Know that it WILL be worth it.

I can’t speak for other races, but holy shit is running Boston worth it. If you’re still overwhelmed and regretting your commitment to fundraising, know that this negative feeling will be completely obliterated to a distance memory come race day. I promise. Running the Boston Marathon and crossing that finish line is one of the biggest highs I’ve had. Don’t believe me? Reread my recap.

If you have any advice to add, leave a comment!

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