A Balanced Variety

April 10, 2009

Like Erin at Fit Bottomed Girls, I have a frustrating problem with ear buds: without fail, they always fall out of my ears. Maybe I have abnormally shaped ears, but for some reason, those little guys just never want to stay put.

It’s for this reason that I generally don’t listen to music while I’m working out. Instead, I choose silence. The silence is preferable to the frustration of constantly needing to readjust my iPod or stopping partway through the workout because my ear buds are suddenly going off on their own little adventure, flinging from my ears to careen wildly through the air.

Even when I go walking they fall out a fair amount. Between that and the fact that I don’t like how cold they become in the winter (and the fact that my roommate had been hiding my headphones from me for the past six months or so), I have not listened to music while exercising in a very long time. But when the roommate finally returned them to me, I decided that it’s warm enough for me to pull them out. So I have started listening to music again on my way to and from work.

Walking is a time I like to set aside for my own thoughts, but sometimes I start to over think things or get anxious. Listening to music causes me to pay more attention to the music and to listen to the lyrics and the different instruments; when I’m focusing so much on them, I don’t really have time to work myself up into an anxious state.

I still love the silence of walking without music, but I’m really glad that I’ve rediscovered how great it can be to have some good quality music along with me on a walk. Some variety is very important.

So I decided to take my music with me to the gym, too. It was a last-minute decision to hit the gym so I didn’t have enough time to get a hold of my gym buddy, but it was kind of nice to spend some time there by myself. I listened to music (Two Hours Traffic and Arctic Monkeys- they’re both so invigorating!) and I worked out alone, and it felt really wonderful. I’m not much of a gym-goer when no one else is there to exercise with me, but it was the right thing to do to go by myself. Having that little bit of variety stimulates our energy and mental state just enough to give us that boost we need.

Do you listen to music while exercising? What music do you like to listen to? And do you prefer exercising solo or with a buddy? There are pros and cons to both sides!


  1. ahh, I cannot workout with a buddy…I like to zoom through workouts, no time to wait and dawdle…drives me nuts!

    Music is a must though! I like to listen to pop or hip hop while I’m working out. JT is a fav 🙂

    Hope you have a fantastic easter Sagan!

  2. I don’t think there IS such a thing as working out in ‘silence’ when you train out in ‘public’ at the ‘gym’ or your local ‘fitness’ facility.
    I also had the same ‘wonky-ear-size’ problem with ear buds falling out.
    They do make ear buds that wrap around your ear to keep them snug, so I was pumped when I found them!
    I listen to music while training to create my own ‘silence’ of sorts. I listen to what I want, how I want, how loud I want, for how long I want.
    It’s a ‘zen’ thing for me. I can’t say I necessarily listen to ‘any’ of the lyrics during my workout.. but my music also never distracts me like the ‘noises’ of the gym always did.

  3. Im musicFREE and sans buddy during the week.

    weekends? LOVE. I workout with my husband and we push eachother HARD.

  4. I only listen to music while weight-lifting and “spontaneously dancing,” haha – not when doing yoga though.

  5. It’s very hard for me to workout, especially when it revolves around long sessions of cardio, without music…With that being said, The Arctic Monkeys are a great workout band that I listen to a lot when I’m on the elliptical–especially their first album.

    Other good workout bands if you like indie are bloc party, clap your hands say yeah, ra ra riot, tokyo police club, tapes n’ tapes, and MGMT.

  6. I listen to the music the gym plays (I work there, so I can change the station to something I like). And I usually don’t have a buddy. Sometimes, when I train people, I become their cardio buddy after the session is over, and then I get them to do intervals.

  7. I try to mix it up often- on my long long runs on trails – I need a good mix to rock out too and push me- but if I run on the road/neighborhoods I never take music with me because I am scared I won’t hear dangers/cars/ etc. and it is distracting.

    My ear buds ALWAYS fall out too- but then I switched with Jeff and his fit way better. This isn’t helpful because they were the same exact pair of headphones- so its not like his were different in any way.

    They have kinds that wrap around the outside of your ear- those were easy to stay on.

  8. Have you tried Skull Candy ear buds?? Like you, I could never get the buggers to stay put until I found those. They’re rubber and they come in 3 different sizes (all in the same package) so you just mess with it until you find the ones that work. Of course now I worry about making myself deaf… 😉

    I think it feels really good sometimes to work out alone. I also find I workout harder than when all my buddies are there:)

  9. For a while, when I first started running, I wore headphones with music. The “moisture” always destroyed them so I stopped. Since then it’s always the “ohm” of the universe 🙂

    There are times at my fitness center where I wear ear plugs because of the loud music, and that silence is an interesting change.

    Meditation comes in many forms, I believe.

  10. My preference depends on the exercise i guess. If I’m running, I need my tunes. I always prefer to have a gym buddy, but I think that’s mostly for the motivation to keep going than the company (I’m very competitive at heart ^_^) I too am not a huge fan of earbuds, and used to use a cheap set of sony headphones with my ipod. I even got a sweet behind the head style set. Maybe one of those would work better?

  11. I cannot stand to work out to music, because then I can’t avoid changing rhythm when the music does. This is the best thing about not being able to afford (either time or money) the Y any more: I’m no longer driven crazy trying to fight against the music (which I once described as “elevator music for kangaroos.”)

    On the other hand, with pollen season coming up, I will have to stick to the exercise bike, which is So Boring I have to listen to something or I’m off it in five minutes. I’m hooked on podcasts, since human speech, although rhythmical in its way, does not have a steady beat to interfere with my pedaling.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  12. Hubby can’t wear earbuds either. Have you tried other headphones? Hubby uses old school Sony earphones.

    If I’m inside doing cardio, I’ll take music over silence every time (outside is different – I just want the sounds of nature then), but I really prefer to watch something while I exercise. A good cardio workout is so much more pleasant if I can zone out on a TV show. Just music for non-cardio exercise though. And I really prefer to exercise alone. Otherwise I might get self conscious and flustered instead of staying focused on my task.

  13. I don’t use my shuffle during a strength training workout, but love it for gym cardio. I selected some of the songs specifically for their beat, and they keep me on pace. When I’m just out walking for good health, I’m 50-50 on music. Sometimes I walk and think, but sometimes I want the music in the background.

    I’ve never worked out with a workout buddy, so I don’t have any point of reference.

  14. Do you have the earbuds that fit behind your ears? Those are the only kind I can use without falling out!

    I am SO addicted to listening to music when I exercise. It pumps me up when I’m running, and keeps me from falllling asleep when I lift. 🙂 (Not because it’s easy, just because I don’t like it as much). I also have worked out solo for years, so I can’t imagine having a workout partner. But I think that would be fun…I bet it makes time fly!

  15. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. At times, I like to just listen to the thoughts in my head and push myself to keep going. LOL.

  16. Music definitely helps with cardio and actually pushes me harder the faster the song.

  17. Rupal- if you’ve got to wait on someone else, that can be difficult!

    Sean- ooh I’ll have to look for those ear buds. And true, there IS always going to be some kind of noise around. I guess it depends how well we can block it out…

    MizFit- I heart your balanced lifestyle.

    VeggieGirl- ooh I adore music when I start spontaneously dancing 😀

    Tony- Love Tokyo Police Club. And I shall be looking into the rest!

    Tricia- that’s great that you can help your clients out like that. And fun to switch up your “buddies” too.

    bhealthier- thanks for the tip 🙂

    Charlotte- with a name like that, I’m going to HAVE to search for them now.

    Dr. J- it certainly does.

    Meg- agreed about the exercise. If I’m out for a walk, I like being by myself; at the gym, I prefer a buddy to PUSH me.

    Mary Anne- podcasts are a good idea. Slightly different style of something to listen to!

    Cathy- mmm sounds of nature are beautiful. When I’m working out indoors, I like watching something too, but tv gives me a headache when I’m exercising. So I look at the people walking outside hehe.

    Cammy- can I come workout with you so you can experience a gym buddy? 🙂

    Holly- hehe now I have this image of you pumping 50 lbs weights like nobody’s business, nodding off as you do it…

    Sharon & Tom- so funny the differences in what really pushes us to keep going.

  18. I don’t listen to music if I go for walks, but that’s one reason I really love aerobics classes – the music!

  19. When I workout I like to have music going. It helps me on the long runs and bike rides. Occasionally I’ll go without the music and it is refreshing. Usually I’m a big fan of the music though!

  20. I love listening to music while I exercise in the gym, or jog. Concentrating on the song or music rather than how much further there is to go is a real help. And I love walking the last few minutes to cool down while something uplifting is playing, like ‘Singing In the Rain’. But when I’m out walking, I like to hear the sounds of the real world, whether that’s sheepbells in the Pyrenees, birdsong in the streets where I live, or people’s crazy mobile phone conversations on Waterloo Bridge.

  21. I’m weird when it comes to music at the gym. I don’t have an arm band, so certain strength training exercises are best done silent. But for more painful ones, like lunges, I love to have music to distract me.

    For cardio, especially treadmill, I often need more than music. Sometimes a video on my iPod works, but the screen is often too small. So I listen to stuff, such as Jillian Michael’s radio show. Stuff I haven’t heard before, so I’m not focusing on my fatigue. Other times, some exciting music is all I need.

    My favorite band is Kamelot, and they have lots of good songs for workout out too–such as “The Fourth Legacy.” I also like Nightwish, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Dresden Dolls, Epica, Sonata Artica, and Voltaire (for slower stuff). Oh! Disney soundtracks are the bomb! If I’m REALLY flagging, the song I always switch to is Mulan’s “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.” Never fails to give me a second wind!

  22. It all depends on my mood. If I’m walking on a beautiful day, I prefer silence and solitude. For lifting, I prefer solitude and music. But when I’m doing cardio, I like the energy of a class.

    For the record, I have a similar problem with earbuds.

  23. i go back and forth, but now i’m in a no music phase 🙂

  24. Oh, you asked about milk replacements!

    I’ve dabbled in them for a couple of years, just out of curiosity. I rarely drink straight milk though–it’s always in cereal or shakes or something.

    I try to stay away from much soy milk, though some of the vanilla flavors are quite tasty.

    Rice milk is too watery for me. I like unsweetened vanilla almond milk though–not straight, but in stuff like cereal. Yet, these two have very little nutrition other than fortification. Which leads me to my newly discovered fav…

    Hemp milk! I got Living Harvest Unsweetened Vanilla. Now, this stuff is kinda weird–it has its own flavor…but it’s so honest about it that I like it. No cloying sugary aftertaste like some milks. Nutritionally, it’s great–good fats, omega 3’s, and more protein than any other milk sub (except for soy).

    If I take anything away from my vegan experiment, it will be hemp milk.

  25. FatFighterTV- I miss aerobics classes! Pure fun.

    Blake- it’s really the change itself that’s so refreshing, isn’t it?

    Liz- LOVE the sounds of the present world- wherever you’re living! Just makes you really appreciate the place so much more.

    Mimi- Having something to focus on is really helpful. Looking forward to checking out your music! And thanks so much for the info on milk alternatives 😀

    Dara- glad it’s not just me! And the energy really does have an impact on that choice.

    ttfn300- sounds like the best way to do it 🙂

  26. I too can’t take the ear buds. I do not listen to music while exercising. Instead I like silence, and get lost in my own thoughts. A little weird.. I know. Working out and meditating, have a great holiday.

  27. Weird shaped ears huh? 🙂 I do listen to music when I go to the gym. I used to think it was a requirement. Then I forgot my iPod one day and had to go it alone. There was no difference in my endurance/level of engagement. It really surprised me!

  28. I like playing music when I exercising because it cheers me up.

  29. MUST have music. I can’t do earbuds though, I hate having them in my ears. I wear the old Walkman style headphones which allow a bit of sound in.

    My music tastes are embarassingly eclectic. Anything from old Big Band Swing to Country to Rock to Disco to Hip Hop to Trance to Cheesy Pop. It’s all about BPM for me.

  30. I like to listen to music when I workout. I think I get a better workout when I do. But like you I have problems with my ear bud. The left one especially. So I use them when I’m riding the recumbent bike or using the treadmill. But when I’m doing weights I’m moving around so much that I tend not to wear them. I listen to all types of music!

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