Phish is the Best (Cardio) Workout Music

I am the type of person who has gone between exercising and not exercising over the past six years.  I usually go through cycles where I put on about 15-20 pounds more than I would like, only to become the craziest jogging/elliptical freak for the next 5 months to get back to ideal/good shape.  I have to admit, I work out pretty efficiently for someone who doesn’t do it year ’round.  While I place far more emphasis on cardio workouts, I also go through some periods where I lift weights–usually after I have lost the excess weight and want to tone up a bit.

For the weight, sit up or chin up workouts, I need things to pump me up; I’ll listen to Dr. Dre, Jurassic 5 or 90’s rock (Offspring Smash is a great album to get you going).  However, for extended periods of running, jogging, or any other cardio workout, nothing helps me more than Phish.

“But OPT, Phish isn’t for working out!  That’s when you bust out Fergie or Justin Timberlake!” — WRONG!  From when I started getting serious about running 6 years ago, I always made sure my iPod was loaded with some tasty shows.

When I pick Phish to work out, it can vary from blazing 1994 rock to well rounded and thick 1998 funk.  Last summer, I wasn’t able to go to most of the second leg; I listened to the highlights of a fresh show nearly every day (that’s the best).  It doesn’t really matter what type of show it is, because Phish is unlike most bands in a very important way: their live recordings are captivating.  That may sound obvious, but think of it this way: Listening to Phish shows is like watching a football game.  It is like watching a football game in that you don’t know what’s going to happen (assuming it’s a show you have not listened to yet), it has the potential of being exciting and it is hard to turn it off before the end (of either the show or particular song).  There are two ways this helps me exercise: 1 – it helps me forget about working out due to attentive listening, and, 2 – it helps me push my workout further.

Exercising is boring; Phish gives my mind something to do while I work out.  I try to pick either a new show or a show I have not listened to in a long time.  When I am anxious to hear what Phish is going to do next, it keeps me far more attentive; this is not to say I don’t have some regularly rotated jams for working out( as you will see below).  Yesterday I ran to 11/07/1996’s Bathtub Gin and You Enjoy Myself (which gave me an idea for my next post), I had not listened to that show in ages–well, maybe the Bathtub Gin more recently, when it was released with the official release of Vegas ’96.  Those two unbelievable moments of musical improvisation helped me forget that I was running in a sticky workout room.  I find myself often doing air-drum rolls or making funny faces when Trey peaks; I should be more careful when others are around.

It’s easy to cut your workout short–unless you don’t want to cut an epic jam short.  I usually skip to larger jams for the last half of my workout because it gives me incentive to really push it.  A break between songs is a natural time for someone to get off the treadmill; when you pick a long song it might go five minutes past what you really feel like doing, now you have a reason to keep going.

If you are looking into becoming more healthy think about how much more bearable exercising is with Phish.  A great time to start is at the beginning of a tour (if you are not seeing many of the shows); downloading the show every morning and having brand new Phish to listen to makes it much more fun to work out.

I have to work out tonight, any suggestions?

Songs I Frequently Work Out To:
12/02/1995 Tweezer – this pushes my speed to another level.
11/14/1998 Tweezer – the buildup and peak are outstanding to run to, the outro provides a nice cooldown.
09/14/1999 AC/DC Bag > Gumbo > DwD – this monster string of hot hot hot improvisation (Guy Forget wrote about it here) provides so many textures to keep your mind occupied and finishes with some serious axe-work to keep your energy up at the end.
12/03/2009 Down with Disease – a truly quality jam relative to all of Phish’s eras, this will keep your energy and curiosity up throughout.
12/04/2009 You Enjoy Myself – possibly the most serious version of 3.0.  Trey’s curious delays and inspiring patterns lead this version into an old-school soaring finish!
08/15/2010 Ghost – read my sentiments here.
09/22/1999 Bathtub Gin – a hose for the ages.  Whether you have never heard this or have it in your car all the time, the jam always leaves you drooling for more.  One of the most beautiful musical textures ever. (read about it and download it here)
08/13/1997 Stash, Gumbo – dear Lord, the stash is so explosive you may be running 20 miles per hour going into the closing lyrics.  The Gumbo is extremely textured and turns your mind into jello.  One of my favorite shows ever and one of my first reviews. (read and download here)
07/01/1997 Ghost – run on the back of the worm!
06/18/2009 Tube  – one of two jammed out Tubes before they turned into relative duds.
12/29/1997 Tube – THE Tube.
06/25/1995 Bathtub Gin – one of my favorites.
06/13/1994 Stash – the intensity will have you close to jumping out of your shoes to keep up.
05/08/1993 David Bowie – this shouldn’t need to be explained.
04/16/1992 It’s Ice – extremely captivating version, in a dance/run sort of way.

Those are what have been on my workout playlist the longest without changing.