Mardi Gras is upon us, and who doesn’t need a reason to celebrate? Mardi Gras is not only about partying and parades down Bourbon Street; it is considered the final day of revelry before Ash Wednesday, leading into Lent. It was first celebrated by French-Canadian explorers in 1703, and 15 years later the city of New Orleans was established.
The first Mardi Gras “parade” was held in New Orleans on Feb. 24, 1857 by the Krewe of Comus, including a street procession of maskers and floats that dazzled its residents. This began the tradition of parades with floats and usually followed with a ball. In present day, music guides the parades, picnics, and floats, and people are dressed in purple, green, and gold – the official Mardi Gras colors.
Before you indulge in king cake and layer on the beads, get in a quick workout with these New Orleans-inspired songs:
1) When the Saints Go Marching In – Louis Armstrong
Warm up with this traditional New Orleans tune. This is may be considered the “unofficial anthem of New Orleans,” as Armstrong was born and raised in the city. New Orleans is also often considered the birthplace of jazz. This song can keep you marching around the track to warm up your muscles.
2) Make Em Say Uhh – Master P
Percy Miller, aka Master P, was also born and raised in New Orleans. He founded his own record label, starred in movies, and even did a stint in the NBA. This is his highest grossing song to date, and the album it was on went triple platinum. CLASSIC.
Exercise: Crunches, sit-ups, Russian twists
3) Set Fire to The Rain (New Orleans Bounce Remix) – Adele and DJ Kayenne
If you’re unfamiliar with New Orleans Bounce, or bounce music, it is a style of New Orleans hip hop known for its energetic beats and call-and-response chants. Trust me, you’ll like it!
Exercise: Sumo squats, squat-lunges, squat pulses
4) Halftime – Ying Yang Twins
STAND UP AND GET CRUNK! Enough said. The song came out 12 years ago, but is still played at most New Orleans Saints games, mostly after touchdowns. It was known as the team’s anthem during their 2009 Super Bowl season.
Exercise: Jumping jacks, burpees
5) Fireman – Lil Wayne
I couldn’t do a New Orleans list without Lil Wayne. He grew up there and always speaks highly of his hometown. He recorded this song in the city in 2005, and the music video was filmed shortly after Hurricane Katrina. (Go ahead and listen to about 10 more Lil Wayne songs, I know you want to.)
Exercise: Your favorite exercise– you might be listening here for a while!
6) Still Fly – Big Tymers
You’re probably still sweating, but you also still most likely look fly. This duo, consisting of rapper Baby (Lil Wayne’s “dad”) and rapper-producer Mannie Fresh, originated in New Orleans and released several successful albums in the early 2000s.
Exercise: Rowing, shoulder press, lat pulldowns
7) Carnival Time – Al Johnson
– This is a certified Mardi Gras anthem. Johnson, who is also known as Carnival Time, was the king of Krewe du Vieux, one of the original parades, in 2005. The krewe is known for showcasing the best brass and jazz bands in New Orleans. This can lead you right into your celebration!
Exercise: Cool down and stretching
Angelica Arnold is the Program Assistant for Health and Wellness at Student Wellness. She is a first-year Master of Public Administration candidate at the UNC School of Government. Her focus is on state, local, and nonprofit programs for nutrition education and walkable communities. She also a volunteer instructor for UNC Fitness Breaks and a youth basketball coach.