Obesity was once considered a sign of affluence. For many centuries and across cultures, extra weight meant you could eat—an important community signal. As widespread famines and droughts plagued humanity, the extra body weight acted as a social cue.
Things began to change during the Industrial Revolution. A reduction in the price of many goods, as well as the evolution of health care thanks to vaccines and antibiotics, leveled the playing field for entire societies. Since everyone could generally eat regularly, obesity lost its appeal.
Over the course of decades, the exact opposite trend occurred. By the ’80s, rail-thin models ushered in a host of eating disorders, many of which still affect people across the planet today. Instead of not having enough to eat, we arguably have too much now. Yet a segment of the population chooses not to do so.
This is to be expected in a media environment focused on ripped muscles and flat stomachs. Acceptance movements have arisen in the social media era, a powerful antidote to the toxic notion of an “ideal body.” That said, data show more Americans are giving up on weight-loss efforts thanks to acceptance movements. And while body positivity is a wonderful—and important—thing, we cannot forget that there are serious health problems associated with obesity.
Attitude is important. Comparing yourself to the bodies on Instagram might inspire you to work out harder and eat better. But it also could make you feel guilty if you’re not hitting these unrealistic expectations. Humans are judgmental animals, for good reason. Yet we hold onto judgment for the wrong reasons, body image being one of the most prevalent.
Be more concerned with what your body can do, not what it looks like. Putting in the work should be its own reward. Sure, goals are important, but obsessing over them compromises our health in other ways. Emotions play an essential role in the actual structure of our body; unnecessary stress (“Why don’t I look like her/him?” “Am I thin/beautiful enough?”) does a body no good.
The stress from running a 10K or increasing your weightlifting loads, however, is the type you want to chase for physical health and wellness. This month’s playlist is fuel for such endeavors.
Outside of yoga, I teach high-intensity formats and studio cycling. House music is my default in these classes. One of my favorite genres is gospel. I love (some) traditional gospel, as well. House music was dreamed up to feature gospel singers soaring above long, percussive tracks that make dance floors soar. The “house” is the “church” inside your body, reflective of your heartbeat.
Devotional music feels good. While there are mournful and reflective genres of devotional music, this month’s playlist features a number of incredible gospel-inspired house songs. Some feature singers crooning hymns atop the rhythm, some are remixes and others sample gospel. Uplifting sentiments pervade these 17 tracks. Instead of mentioning each song—they speak for themselves—here are a few reasons for the selections.
“Liquid Spirit (Claptone Remix).” Gregory Porter is a Grammy-winning jazz and gospel vocalist. While his own music is band oriented, this Claptone remix takes the spirit of the original and elevates it to an epic level.
“Feel Alive.” Lorraine Crosby cut her teeth as Meat Loaf’s vocal counterpart. Such a duty requires lungs of inhuman proportions, which she displays on this deep, roving cut. While not gospel per se, it would be hard to argue against this displaying its own bit of devotion.
“Rolling in the Deep.” Aretha Franklin might be known for her Motown classics, but she is at heart a gospel singer. She started releasing gospel in 1956 with “Songs of Faith.” She’s never had a problem raising up an audience with her voice alone, but this club banger makes it appropriate for your most intense workouts.
“Church Lady.” Dennis Ferrer’s ultimate classic is just a perfect song through and through. Danil Wright’s vocal is stunning.
“He Is.” Some traditional gospel was needed. This Copyright mix exemplifies the energetic shift of the genre, the building vocals and beat reflective of the intent of devotional music: to be pulled through the depths and ascend in the chorus.
“See Line Woman.” Was Nina Simone gospel? Of course she was. This is the mellowest mix on the playlist, an ideal outro to a high-energy set.
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