The problem with a solo cardio workout is how to keep pushing yourself. I’ve written up this playlist with some ideas. Assemble these tracks, strap on your hardiest sports bra, and let the dark side of the Force flow through your cardio machine. Tap into your anger and your hate. Become stronger with each passing moment. Heck, blow up a planet! Afterward, you may visit your local farmers market for overpriced strawberry-rhubarb yogurt, made from happy cows.
For stretching and warming up, I recommend the serene, dulcet-toned podcast “Welcome to Nightvale.” Those guys are gosh-darn adorable. Then we move into the cardio routine. I use an elliptical, but this mix can also be adapted for treadmills or cycles. Rowing machines are right out, though, because I do not understand how they work.
“Voodoo Child” Rogue Traders, 3:58. (I like to think of this as the Lucy Saxon song; it’s in Doctor Who S3E12 The Sound of Drums.) Here come the drums, so start strong! If you don’t really bring it from the get-go, your whole workout may suffer, so just think of how great it would be to rule the world from an enormous flying castle, doing a little evil dance. A physically fit global dictator is a global dictator who grips the planet firmly, allowing nothing to slip through her fingers. Run fast to put some iron in your glove!
“Work Bitch” Britney Spears, 3:54. Now that you’re sweating a little, and starting to regret being at the gym at all, you need something slightly more motivational. A dominatrix driving a Maserati through the desert ought to do it. You are permitted to become incandescent with anger over the issue of B’s grossly unfair conservatorship, but I caution you not to damage the machine by clawing at the handgrips in impotent rage.
“Electric Lady” Janelle Monae feat. Solange, 5:09. Janelle Monae is not, as many people believe, the perfect human being. She is a glorious robot. She will never stop. She will never leave you, never shout at you, or get drunk and hit you, or say she’s too busy to spend time with you. Janelle Monae will always be there. And she absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead. Run faster on that elliptical, though, because hey, someone’s got to survive Skynet, might as well be you!
“Q.U.E.E.N.” Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu, 5:10. Did you know this album was Hugo-eligible and yet somehow the voters did not even manage to get it nominated? Remembering this will remind you of how wrong it was that Tatiana Maslany was snubbed by the Emmys. She should be holding Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, but those fools, those meager-headed fools. Your anger should have you going hard now, but if it gets to be too much, remind yourself that the Emmys are merely an excuse to collect more pictures of Natalie Dormer (legitimate sexual preference). You may also, if it helps, picture yourself accepting various awards or demanding the return of your pyramids. Remember always that you are not weird to dance alone late at night.
“Look at Miss Ohio” Whisperado, 2:46. This song is not quite fast enough for cardio, but I like it, so you will crank the machine way up to a knee-maiming hill toward the end of Q.U.E.E.N. and spend these few minutes grinding through being depressed about all the ways in which you are not, in fact, doing right, right now. Promise yourself that as soon as you get home, you’re going to straighten it all out somehow; you’re going to really clean the house/get a degree/learn how to fix cars/write a novel. For sure this time. If necessary, you may spend a few minutes being wistful about running around with the ragtop down in the Chrystler Le Baron you used to own.
Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” metal cover by Halestorm, 3:09. “Get lucky,” you will sneer, “sure, lucky, whatever bro,” as you think of every sexual interaction you later felt awkward about (which, to be clear, is most of them). Think about how much it hurts to stay up all night. Wonder if that hot guy over there doing hammer curls with terrible form is that sloppy about things in bed, just pumpgrunting away through the night? Did he see you looking at him? Oh shit, I think he did. Quick, stare at a TV!
“Gunpowder & Lead” Miranda Lambert, 3:12. Hey, kids, murder is pretty cool! As this song plays, picture the sweat pouring off your arms and face as the blood of those who have wronged you. Is this workout over yet? How can there be another hill? You will build a taller hill than this, and you will build it with the corpses of people who are wrong on twitter about rape culture or ’90s TV shows. You will surmount all the hills and you will kill and you will kill and you will kill again. Killing is what little girls are made of.
“Stardust Kids – A Plus D” a dj BC mashup, 4:10. Doesn’t it suck that no matter how much you love David Bowie, none of your favorites are any goddamned good for cardio? Sure, there are some more recent tracks that might work, but they’re not what you want. You want to be an alligator. You want to take a drag from time’s cigarette. But you can’t, because those songs are better suited for driving or doing dishes and you’re stuck on this stupid elliptical. It is fine to be angry with the Thin White Duke for this oversight, though I promise you that your workout was the furthest thing from his mind when he was snorting puppetdrugs and painting the faces of slatternly dancers with his toes in Berlin in the ’70s.
“Ride of the Valkyries” Wagner, 5:11. The London Philharmonic has hundreds of musicians. They’ve toured the entire world, hosted all the best composers and musicians, and performed soundtracks for films and video games. The orchestra survived World War II air raids and being featured in an Oasis track. They’ve played with Nightwish, which makes them cooler than you. They are playing their hearts out on this piece. So I think you can run a little faster. Faster! Run! Do it for the Valkyries! Finish strong so that you can be lifted up to join your warrior sisters!