Music as Motivation

I’m often asked “how do I get motivated to start moving on my own?” 

In a self-practice, it’s just you and whatever space you have. And sometimes, it’s hard to start. We make excuses, we get distracted, or our energy doesn’t feel right. This is where music can be helpful.

For me, music helps. I use it to set the tone, pace and rhythm of my practice. I frequently make playlists for practice sessions and save all of them, rarely deleting any. Sometimes I’ll revisit them when I want to relive an experience or a mood associated with them. Sometimes I let them play, and other times I skip around, repeating songs that bring on a movement quality I want to indulge. Sometimes I’ll just be excited about a new song or album. 

If I’m tired but really want to move my body, I just put on a favorite song. Just something that I love and have listened to a hundred times. It always wakes me up and encourages me to get on my mat.

If you’re new to working out independently or at home, it might help to be more strategic with your music choices. Here are some playlists of mine and how I use them to guide my movement.

My go-to for a classical pilates workout. Flowing through the classical order requires that you maintain precision (discipline) but to move constantly at an even pace. I like pop structured music for that. I’ll typically put on a playlist with bouncy music, even tempos and familiar rhythms. I’ll let it play, resisting the urge to skip around songs, and allow my movement to match the rhythm of the music.


If I am using an element of instability, such as a ball or foam roller, then I need to channel my precision. In this case, I’ll use ambient music or something unfamiliar so that the sounds wash over me and don’t take my attention away from my movement. I don’t want anything too upbeat or with a strong rhythm because I don’t want the music to influence my breath- I want my movement alone to do that. In this case, the music washes out external noise and sets a general mood for a focused workout. 


When I want to free flow- allow my internal mood to blend with the vibe of the music and allow whatever movement feels right to come out, then I’ll throw on Flow Tunes. That’s my playlist where I put songs I have already made solid flows to. Each song is familiar so the movement that comes to me will often reference previous flows with layers of new movements and transitions. This helps create a bit of structure to free flowing movement. 


The past two weeks I’ve been in more of a discovery phase. I’ve been spending most of my movement time creating guided workouts for the upcoming library, so in my off-time I’ve been inspired to play with new transitions. I haven’t been doing long free flows as much as I have been playing with one concept and seeing how many transitions I can think up to flow in and out of said concept. It’s all of a sudden cold here in New York, the holidays are approaching, and I find that music that sounds “wintery” with a chill vibe and a solid beat has encouraged this type of play. 

Play around! I love to use music to keep me on-task and focused during the more structured part of my workout. And then, when that’s “done,” I spend a few minutes having a little dance party with myself (a lot of what you see in my flows on instagram come from these!). Try taking a song or two after your next class with me to groove around on your mat and see what comes out. 

Be safe, be well,

 ashley xx