A bunch of blogs on the blogroll to the right of this post (and down a bit) did a Coldplay theme yesterday, which has prompted me to (at last!) get around to writing something I’ve been toying with for ages.
I’ll get to the Coldplay link in a bit, but the first thing you need to know is that I’m a qualified Exercise To Music instructor, and back in the day I used to teach my own classes. When you’re picking music for exercise classes, you have a few options. If you’re a hack, you can buy not just the music but your whole class from a soulless international corporation like Les Mills® or Zumba®. Alternatively, you can buy pre-mixed, PRS-cleared compilations of workout music. There are masses of these compilations marketed specifically to exercise instructors. People who aren’t in the business would probably be surprised at what a huge market this is.
The third option is to pick your own music. MCPS’s introduction of the Pro Dub licence helped a lot here, as for a couple of quid a week you can make your own compilations for use in exercise classes. Unsurprisingly, this is the route I chose.
And my playlist was… eclectic. At one stage I was making a point of featuring music from as many different countries as I could. At the peak, I think I had eleven different countries represented in the space of about 13 songs, which is pretty impressive. I also tried to get different styles in. Some Mexican banda next to Kaiser Chiefs and Verdi‘s Anvil Chorus. Basically, I put together the sort of exercise class I would like to go. It was great. Well, it was great for me, anyway.
Using music professionally does entail a slightly different perspective to listening as a fan, though. There is an element of music having to be useful. There was no onus on me to use songs I didn’t enjoy, but I suppose I do enjoy a lot of these more than I otherwise would, because I had good routines to go with them.
So anyway, here are some classics from the classes…
Firstly, a really good song to open with, from electropopster Little Boots. Steady 120bpm, nice long intro to say hello and open the class, good clear sections of regular length. For listening pleasure, it doesn’t displace the Dimitri From Paris remix in my affections, but it’s perfect for the job.
“Headphones” would typically lead into this, raising the tempo a bit. I named one of my classes “Got To Move!” after this song, and having done that, I felt I had to include it. I found this on a compilation, and know nothing of the band. If anyone can provide any details, please do. For those wanting some movement pointers for this song, I have one word for you. Grapevine! Actually, I think this one suffers most from not having any choreography with it. If you’re not dancing, it’s probably a bit irritating. Sorry.
It’s been a few years since I taught these classes and I thought I would have forgotten the choreography, but actually it’s (almost) all coming back to me as I revisit the tracks. This retro V V Brown number was always a lot of fun and going through the dance now (though this office isn’t really big enough to do all the kicks in), I kind of wish I was still teaching. One thing that did annoy me a bit about this song was that I choreographed a routine which involved rotating 360 degrees during each verse, but there are three verses, so I ended up going clockwise twice and anticlockwise once, or vice versa, instead of the same number of times each way. Most people wouldn’t think about this, but it bothered me quite a bit, because when you’re teaching exercise, you should always do the same repetitions to each side. So yeah, I broke the rules a bit for this one.
Link: V V Brown – L.O.V.E.
Thalia is a huge star in Latin America, apparently she’s the Latin Madonna. Though I think of her more as the Mexican Kylie. I used a few of her songs, usually upbeat dancey ones, but this was a good slow one to give everyone a breather, and I gave it some simple choreography too, basically just walking to three points of a triangle and shaking your hips at each one. Man, that sounds awful, doesn’t it? It was a bit of a respite for everyone including me, though.
I nearly forgot the Coldplay connection, didn’t I? This cover of “Viva La Vida” by Swedish Idol alumnus Darin (Sweden’s equivalent of Will Young, essentially) is a solid mid-tempo track to which I set a bunch of standard old-school aerobics moves. And for anyone who thought the orchestration on Coldplay’s original was masking a weak song… well, there’s no orchestra here, and I think this completely different treatment supports my assertion that it’s simply a bloody good song.
Link: Darin – Viva La Vida
Back to the latin pop, and a song that is frankly bonkers, and which accordingly was blessed/cursed with an energetic and tricky combination of hand and feet movements. Also, from an aerobic dance perspective, the sections of this one are really in the wrong order, which always confused people, including me sometimes. It all adds to the fun, though.
And one more for today. As Earth, Wind and Fire nearly sang, do you remember / the two-hit career of September? She did the “Smalltown Boy”-sampling “Cry For You” and… that other one, whatever it was. It wasn’t this, which I don’t think was ever officially released in the UK. Oh how fickle the British marketplace is. Anyway, after beginning with Little Boots, I don’t suppose anyone ever noticed my subtle bookending of the aerobic dance section with two songs on the same theme. I thought that was quite clever. Key choreography pointer in this one… from 3.20 to the end, FREESTYLE! Oh man, I miss doing that stuff.
More tunes from my aerobics career some other time, probably…