With the dawn of each new year comes New Year’s Resolutions, and with New Year’s Resolutions come the promises that this is the year you’re using your gym membership, getting in shape, running a marathon, and chiseling a six-pack. It’s probably due in no small part to the fact that since Thanksgiving in late November, the name of any game has been to eat, and eat, and eat. The world is a veritable wonderland of cookies, pie, egg nog, more pie, and suddenly, we all end up a little more squishy around the edges. I see no shame in this, personally, but if you’re really determined to get a head start on your fitness goals and need to just get back on track or are completely new to the gym, sometimes having a little extra motivation helps until working out becomes a habit again.
To help, here’s a few songs that will literally get you in the zone when you can’t pay a SoulCycle instructor to yell such positive affirmations at you.
1. Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson
Queen of the empowerment jams, Kelly Clarkson often doesn’t delve into the realm of deep metaphor, and that’s okay. Sometimes you really need somebody to remind you that the next few minutes are going to suck, but hey, no pain, no gain. Or loss. Or whatever it is you’re trying to do in the gym.
2. Bootylicious – Destiny’s Child
For all those days when you’re doing squats. I mean, will you get a butt to rival the posterior of one Beyonce? Probably not, but hey, a girl can dream.
3. Fighter – Christina Aguilera
Christina knows you have another few rounds in you. Christina is going to be there to push you. Christina wants you to channel your inner Rocky and fight for your life. Pair this puppy with Beautiful in your cool down stretch if you’d like, because it’s true.
4. Looking Hot – No Doubt
I mean, yes, there are so many other benefits to the gym than just how you look. You’re getting healthier, you’re relieving stress, you’ll sleep better, you’ll live longer, and your body will function better. But it’s also okay to want to look good. (Just, you know, don’t be that guy and preen in front of the mirror when you’re supposed to be working out. Other gymgoers may complain about the influx of gym traffic after January, but they genuinely loathe this guy.)
5. All These Things That I’ve Done – The Killers
Beyond the fact that the opening stanza talks about holding on and running, the law of probability states that if you ever see anyone fist-pumping the air as you pass them on the track, chances are very, very good they’re chanting along to “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier.” You may not be a soldier, but you will soldier on through that last mile, you trooper. I’m proud of you.
6 – 8. The Kanye Trifecta: The New Workout Plan, Stronger, Monster
Kanye is a polarizing individual, but love him or hate him, he creates a pretty solid track. Beyond the fact that ‘The New Workout Plan’ was the original ridiculous-yet-ridiculously-catchy rap song—’Thrift Shop,’ I’m looking at you—you get the sense that Kanye understands. Kanye knows what it’s like to be struggling at the gym. Kanye gets it. And so Kanye will tell you to get your crunches right. In ‘Stronger,’ Kanye helps you take a jab at all of your naysayers and nonbelievers, because he believes in you. He knows that after months of hard work and diligent food measurement, newly chiseled and hewn from nothing more than sinew and sweat, and a veritable—wait for it—monster.
9. Where Are We Running? – Lenny Kravitz
I will not admit to the countless times I have started my running playlist to this song, because it is absurdly cheesy, but there is no way this song is not catchy on every single level possible.
10. The Phoenix – Fall Out Boy
Put on your warpaint and enter the gym, only to emerge from the ashes, born anew like a majestic phoenix, your wings made from spandex yoga pants and… I’ll stop.
11. Like A Champion – Selena Gomez
The entire album ‘Stars Dance’ is full of hidden, catchy gems, but this one is the most blatantly confidence-boosting. Half of success is faking it until you make it, so walk like a champion into that weight room, buddy. Nobody need know you’ve got a Disney alum to thank for that little swagger of yours.
12. Move In The Right Direction – Gossip
The song is a veritable motivational speech set to a really infectious beat. Most Gossip songs are pretty catchy to begin with, but ‘Move In The Right Direction’ is the ultimate in positive thinking, too.
13. #GETITRIGHT – Miley Cyrus
#GetItTight #ProducedByPharrell #AllYouNeedToKnowToKnowItsAJam
14. TKO – Justin Timberlake
Who’s going to be a total knockout after this workout? Whose body is going to be crazy? Who’s going to get the gold? You are, if you listen to this song. I mean, it’s either that, or the workout is literally going to knock you out, but please, listen to your body. Pushing it far is okay, but let’s not get nuts here. That’s how you get injured.
15. Work Bitch – Britney Spears
Fun fact: it takes the average New York City gym class instructor 36 hours to get a Britney Spears song on their personalized remix track listing. Funner fact: it takes them approximately 11 hours if the song literally tells you what you need to do if you want to look hot in a bikini while sipping martinis in a Lamborghini. Britney knows what’s up.
16. 4 Minutes – Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake
Just by virtue of her arms, Madonna has to be on a motivational gym playlist, because [insert joke here about how simultaneously terrifying and awe-inspiring they are]. Plus, 4 minutes really isn’t a lot of time, but it’s still enough to squeeze in a really effective workout, so hey, if you want to be a Literal Lucy and do 4 minutes of Tabata to ’4 Minutes,’ then tick-tock, what are you waiting for?
17. That’s What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who find this song absurdly catchy, and liars. And whether or not you’re in tune with the inner beauty that was there even BEFORE you plunked all that money down for your shiny new gym membership, just remember that five plucky lads with perfect hair from across the pond believed in you. They knew you were beautiful.
(Alternatively, let this song fuel your workout in the way only annoyance and rage can. But you still have to admit it’s really catchy.)