Gym Playlist: Mardi Gras Edition

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.

Image courtesy of Randy Heinitz on Flickr.

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:                                                                  

Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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.

Exercise: Jogging

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


For more workout tips, check out the Workout Wednesday blogs from Campus Rec! And of course, for anything else wellness-related, check out our resources at Student Wellness .


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.

Listen & Learn: Relationships in Music

by Hali Archambault

Have you ever started singing along to a song and then quickly realized that what you were singing was actually something derogatory or offensive? The use of catchy lyrics and rhythms can entrance a listener and it is difficult to distinguish how toxic the words really are. Music is such a large part of our culture and it can influence our thoughts and views, whether conscious or unconscious. These lyrics can skew individual views of what is “okay” and provide demonstrations for unhealthy relationships.

But how can one distinguish a healthy adfrelationship from an unhealthy one? One way is to view each characteristic of a relationship as a pillar that holds it together: a relationship cannot work if one of the pillars begins to crumble. So what are these pillars? We can categorize the traits of a healthy relationship into 7 pillars.

  1. Respect
  2. Trust and Support
  3. Honesty and Accountability
  4. Shared Responsibility
  5. Economic Partnership
  6. Negotiation and Fairness
  7. Non-Threatening Behavior

Music often doesn’t destruct all of the pillars– media in general is never 100% bad or 100% good– but we can look at several lyrics to identify any possible unhealthy factors exhibited in a song and how these factors can result in an overall unhealthy relationship. This is not to say that one artist’s music is all bad and you should never listen to their music, but it is important to recognize the lyrics we listen to and their influence on relationships.

  • Nick Jonas, Jealous
    • Pop music has normalized or romanticized the attitude of victim blaming. The title, Jealous, reveals a lack of trust. While there may be debate for a “healthy amount of jealousy” in a relationship, there are several lyrics that point to aggressive behaviors such as “I’m puffing my chest” and “It’s my right to be hellish.” Additionally, the song reveals victim blaming (“’Cause you’re too sexy, beautiful”) such that the pursued is too pretty and should contain that.
  • Sam Smith, Stay with Me
    • This song has a beautiful melody, but contains some concerning messages. Many unhealthy relationships go through a cycle: honeymoon stage, tension builds, and an incident. The unhealthy relationship does not necessarily go through each stage every time, but the honeymoon stage (the calm) makes it feel like everything is fine. It isn’t until an incident happens that people usually seek help. Therefore, the lyrics of Stay With Me, “this ain’t love, it’s clear to see but darling, stay with me” represents a plea the pursued may hear to stay in a relationship, despite it being unhealthy. Check out the lyrics to see how gender plays a large role in unhealthy relationships:

But there are also plenty of songs that display more healthy relationships! These songs focus on trust, equality, respect, and honesty. Here, we will look at two pop songs that convey positive messages about relationships.

  • Fifth Harmony, Miss Movin’ On
    • While this song does not portray a healthy relationship, it places emphasis on the strength it takes to get out of an unhealthy relationship, empowering those to “start from scratch.” It creates assurance that there is a way out and a way to “move on.” The inspiring lyrics can be found at:
  • Ed Sheeran, Thinking Out Loud
    • The premise of this song is a love that is long lasting, based on open communication, “I just wanna tell you I am,” and simple acts of comfort, such as “just the touch of a hand.” The healthy relationship is based on the support, trust, communication, respect and safety.

Check out this playlist that emphasizes healthy relationships on Spotify by

So what now? It is important to note that listening to media with messages you don’t love doesn’t make you a bad person — it’s okay to enjoy these songs! It would be impossible to consume any media if we said never to listen to/watch anything that conveyed negative behaviors. However, it’s important to recognize that the media you consume could be affecting your attitudes. Ask yourself: What is the message of this song? And do I like that message?

What can you do right now? Talk to your friends about these songs, or other songs you have realized are either empowering or promote unhealthy relationships.

My One ACT will be talking to my friends about the way media affects our ideas about relationships. What’s your One ACT?

Updated February 2016

Wake Up To Music

Alarm Clock 3
Photo: “Alarm Clock 3.” Alan Cleaver. Flickr Creative Commons.

Today I woke up to the sound of music. I’m not talking about Julie Andrews in Austria. I’m talking about my alarm. It wasn’t a terrible beeping, though. I hate those types of alarms. They scare me out of bed and put me into a panic. I would always be waking up thinking I was late. My morning monologue was something like “holy crap”, “this sucks”, “why me?”. I would feel resentful and annoyed. It wasn’t until I started waking up to more peaceful kinds of music that I noticed how that was really affecting me. Those blaring alarms were actually affecting the way I experienced my entire day. I would see class as a chore and a burden. I would feel rushed to the point where I would either physically speed around to get myself ready, out the door, and to wherever I needed to be, or I would become insufferably slow, as though I was at a silent protest against the morning.

So I changed my routine. What a relief! It’s way better, trust me. Music soothes me awake, just as it used to soothe me to sleep. Though, I guess it depends on the kind of music you choose to wake up to. Hold on, people, we’re about to take a step into the world of science (and by science, I mean YouTube). Click here (don’t listen to the whole thing)—>>>> .

Welcome back. So, that was kind of nice, huh? That’s the kind of soothing I’m talking about. That can get me through the day. It sets the pace for me. Okay, let’s imagine how music is used in film. Without music, some of the most terrible, scary movies would be only mildly frightening and even humorous in some cases. The music in suspense/horror flicks is intended to affect my breathing, heart rate and ultimately my emotional response. It causes me to react with fear.

Where am I going with this? Good question… What I’m getting at is this: how can we become more aware of our emotions? Better yet, will becoming more aware of our emotions allow us to practice a certain level of control over them? For example, I like being happy, content and excited over being angry, afraid or sad. Knowing that, what is one way I can set myself up to experience more of the emotions that I prefer to experience?

If I want to feel happiness, I can listen to some Sara Bareilles or Jason Mraz. If I want to feel calm and motivated, I listen to some classical guitar music. That’s just me. But seriously, there are physical and emotional responses to musical stimuli. If you’re interested in exploring the topic in greater depth, do some research into music psychology and mood regulation. Check out some books from the library, listen to music, make music, share music and study music. And visit my favorite source of science… YouTube!

Start your day off right. Get your heart beating to the rhythm of your choice. Your emotional wellbeing is important and it could affect others as well, and may ultimately have an impact on the Carolina community. So, be conscious, deliberate, and systematic in your music choices.

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” -Billy Joel

Jazz Band
Photo: “Jazz Band.” Kevin Dooley.