It was a new year, like most others. I'd been reflecting on resolutions and decided on a bold step: buy an elliptical machine. Why? As much as I love outdoor exercise, Colorado weather occasionally has other ideas. Thus, I required an indoor solution that was easy on the joints yet delivered a suitable challenge.
Being the consummate geek, I dove into elliptical research and decided upon a Nordic Track "Commercial" model (which is ironically sold only to consumers), circa 2015, with a big screen, workout programs, heart rate sensor, stride adjustability, cooling fan, convenient resistance controls and bottle holder. It arrived via truck in a monster box, partially assembled! Yay! Another kit!
After assembly and setup, I used it nearly every day. I was giving it all I got, but the relationship seemed increasingly one-sided. I was putting in all this effort, and all I really got in return was some statistical feedback. The new-machine love affair was fading. After a few months' neglect, guilt arose from my latest failed new year's resolution, and I suffered a significant financial pinch for this enormous paperweight.
That guilt led me to the Lolo BeatBurn Elliptical Trainer program. It's an iPhone app that provides audio-coached elliptical workouts, set to music of your choice, which is tempo-altered to sync with the coach's strides-per-minute (SPM) instructions. Workout length, fitness level and intensity are adjustable. Each session includes warm-ups & downs, with interval, strength and cardio training. The coach instructs you to set machine resistance, announces SPM and you're off and running with perfectly synced music, automatically selected from your playlist.
The secret sauce is your playlist. It should consist of several hours' music, ranging in tempo from around 75 to 145 beats-per-minute (BPM). My collection includes songs from Brian Bromberg, Bruno Mars, Crash Test Dummies, Clapton, Zeppelin, ZZ Top, Sting, Hendrix and more (download the attached CSV document for a complete list). The bundled macOS "Music" app can display BPM in your "Songs" library by right-clicking the column header and checking "Beats Per Minute." (If your songs don't display BPM, check out the beaTunes application for macOS. It's a ridiculously capable program that listens to your entire music library, and assigns BPM automagically. It's a must-buy for ID3 Tag obsessive-compulsives.)
There are many studies exploring music's role in exercise, and from this musician's perspective, tempo-altered music also prompts my mind to explore a song's arrangement, instrumentation and production. Listening to Get The Funk Out by Extreme, 10 BPM slower than normal, provides an interesting musical distraction, moving my mind away from the boredom and pain associated with exercise while motivating my progress.
Ultimately, I'm back in love. The guilt is gone, and my hamstrings are happy.