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ATPM 11.04
April 2005



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Pod People

by Ellyn Ritterskamp,

It’s Just Good Vibrations

There are lots of way to use your iPod, but nearly everything I have ever done with mine has centered around exercise. Having music adds a big dimension to a workout.

I bought a first-generation iPod in November of whatever year they were introduced. It seems forever ago. I’d had a Sony Discman for playing CDs, but it never seemed as perfect as I wanted. I had to carry a backpack or wear an ugly and constrictive waist belt, and if I wanted to jog at all it would skip. The iPod solved all that. It was small enough to fit in a pocket, and light, and I never did get it to skip.

I used it happily for a few years. Then one day when I plugged it into the Mac, it didn’t register on the desktop. The Mac couldn’t see it. I was stuck with the songs that are on it, which is not a bad array, but I could no longer add anything new. I was still able to charge it with a wall adapter, so I kept going with it for a while. But then came the iPod mini, and I could not resist for too long. Not being able to change the playlist on my original model was the catalyst for buying the Mini—I am not someone who has to buy something new just because it is there.

I bought a silver iPod mini and fell in love. It still had plenty of room for the music I wanted for workouts, and it was much lighter and smaller. I saw folks at the gym with armbands and toyed with the idea of buying one, but the mini was so light it did not distort my shorts or pants pockets like the original, so I never bothered. Good thing, because then along came the iPod shuffle.

I did not even pretend to resist the Shuffle for very long. I knew it was the perfect machine for what I wanted: very light, unskippable, and with enough room for a playlist that would not be too repetitious over a period of days. I had a little trouble loading a couple of songs onto the Shuffle (I had the same problem with the Mini, so it is probably something in my software), but I just removed them from the list, and it went fine after that. I didn’t need a 12-minute version of the Pet Shop Boys’ “Go West” on there anyway.

I will try to explain why it is that music is so important in a workout. It’s different if you’re playing a sport with other people or doing something sociable like walking in a group, of course. Then, wearing headphones is rude. But if you are on your own, sometimes your energy drags a little. Nothing jolts it quite like having the next song start, and it’s Van Halen’s “Right Now,” and you know you have to seize the moment. Or maybe it is Asia’s “Days Like These,” and you remember that what does not kill you makes you strong. I see a distinct change in my gait if I am on a treadmill or walking on a sidewalk and on comes something peppy—disco was much maligned, but some of it is perfect for this. I have constructed my workout playlists so that most of the songs are high energy. If a slower one shows up on the Shuffle, and I need something snappier, I just hit the Forward button. It holds a little over 90 songs, depending on which ones I select. That’s plenty. I have two 90-song lists, but I have not yet gotten bored with the first one enough to switch them out.

I read some complaints about the shuffle where people were wishing for a display so they could see what song was playing. I could not figure that out. You put the songs in there yourself—how would you not recognize the tune? I will address that complaint and others in a review of the Shuffle (also in this issue), but for now I will say that the Shuffle is just about the best workout accessory since the sweatband. Even the lanyard included with it is cool.

Since I got the shuffle and started using it for workouts, I’ve bought several songs from the iTunes Music Store. I don’t quite understand the print ads that try to show it will cost you $10,000 to fill an iPod if you use the iTMS, but Napster is $15 a month or whatever. Most of the songs I put on my iPods come from CDs I already have, or that I buy, and then rip into the library. I have bought a dozen or so songs from the iTMS. I know the ads are trying to sell a product, but they look pretty misleading to me.

The iPod can be many things to many people. It has and will have games and other applications. It was conceived as a digital music player, though, and each evolution brings new and better ways to do just that: play music.

Part of My Playlist

  • “500 Miles”—The Proclaimers
  • “Life is a Highway”—Tom Cochrane
  • “Gonna Make You Sweat”—C+C Music Factory
  • “The Impression That I Get”—Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  • “YMCA”—Village People
  • “You Sexy Thing”—Hot Chocolate
  • “Don’t Stop Me Now”—Queen
  • “Mexican Wine”—Fountains of Wayne
  • “Come On Eileen”—Dexy’s Midnight Runners

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (12)

Todd Wachob · April 1, 2005 - 15:51 EST #1

Those Napster ads _are_ misleading. Napster implies that we could download 10,000 songs for the $15 monthly fee, while it would cost $10,000 at iTMS. But once we quit paying Napster the $15 monthly fee, the 10,000 Napster songs are no longer playable. Of course, the iTMS songs cost $0.99 per song and we have them forever (pending hard drive failure). Napster has some deal, huh?
Miche Doherty · April 3, 2005 - 10:11 EST #2
"I could not figure that out. You put the songs in there yourself—how would you not recognize the tune?"

There are 2232 tracks in my music library, and when I load a random selection onto the Shuffle there are usually one or two that I can't place; they might be tracks from a compilation CD I bought ten years ago, or recent free downloads by artists I'm unfamiliar with. I don't see the lack of a display as cause for complaint - I knew what I was buying - but what's so hard to figure out about having music on your hard disk that you can't immediately identify?
Ellyn Ritterskamp (ATPM Staff) · April 3, 2005 - 12:05 EST #3
Now I think I understand. I was assuming that on the Shuffle, we would select specific songs or types of songs to transfer. It seems that maybe some folks are using the "randomly select" feature to import their items, whereas I assumed it would make more sense to preselect the stuff.

I do understand how using the random feature would result in having some things on the Shuffle you could not identify. If this is a problem, the solution is to create playlists and use those.

I also wanted to point out that the Shuffle allows you to play items within a list, in sequence. So you could still transfer an audiobook or French lessons or whatever, to be heard in sequence.
David Mittman · May 2, 2005 - 21:55 EST #4
I autofill my iPod shuffle from my "Library" with the "Choose songs randomly" option selected. If you keep your iPod in the source list, then you can always go back to iTunes to check out all the information on the songs that are loaded onto your iPod shuffle. It doesn't take very long to scroll through the list of 130 or so (iPod shuffle 512MB model) songs before your memory is jogged and you connect the song you heard to the name in the list. You can even play the song from your iPod shuffle source list in iTunes without the shuffle connected.
Jannie Van Zyl (South Africa) · July 8, 2005 - 06:18 EST #5
There must be a topic that (we) you guys could discuss more productively. I have over 200GB of music on my PC and I change the song on my iPod regularly. If I'm battling to finish the 2 mile goal I set for myself on the treadmill, the last thing on my mind is what movie the Annie Lennox cover of The Clash's "Stand By me" is from! I know for a fact that I don't need an LCD display and honestly don't care who/what the song is. I have an MP3 car stereo system and a lot of the songs I've downloaded don't have ID3 tags, hence, no disply. If I can tap my foot to it I don't care if it's the Southeastern Venezuelan School For Children With Learning Disorder's choir coverring Milli Vanilli.

Arielle · August 16, 2005 - 18:32 EST #6
Does anyone have any idea how you can transfer songs from Napster To Go to itunes? I started to try to burn the songs onto a CD, but a notice came up saying you have to pay for them. Is there any way to do that without paying??????? Please help!
ATPM Staff · August 17, 2005 - 01:55 EST #7
Arielle - you're out of luck. Paying for the Napster To Go service only legally allows you to play the songs on your computer or a compatible portable device (of which the iPod is not included). Sorry, but that's the long and short of it. The whole point of Napster To Go is that you are "renting" the music. Stop paying the monthly fee, and the DRM in your music doesn't allow you to continue playing it. The ability to burn those songs to an audio CD without paying the per-song price would negate Napster's terms for the To Go service.

Napster's advertising about being so much of a better deal than iTunes to "rent" your music instead of buying it doesn't seem so great after all, does it? :-p
peg · November 5, 2005 - 05:58 EST #8
I have to say..I LOVE the Napster to go service. Just love it. Yes, there is a monthly fee, but it is SO worth it. I run, so I love having all of these songs available to me. I ordered Napster on the go, and as a marketing feature, napster gives you a free compatible mp3 player (if you order for a year). I upgraded to the fifty dollar one gig..let me say..its BETTER than the IPOD!!!! I love it. I can see why some would not want to pay a monthly fee, but I love it.
Allen Smith · May 20, 2006 - 18:18 EST #9
Yo! I just got a ipod shuffle and i love it i so recomend itunes its so much better then napster.
Sherri Wicker · March 2, 2008 - 11:55 EST #10
I just ordered a ipod shuffle and havent gotten it as of yet and am looking for information on what site is a good download site. Thanks looking to use it to start a workout routine.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · March 2, 2008 - 12:58 EST #11
Sherri - when you refer generically to "a good download site," there is the connotation that you're looking for free music which is probably copyrighted and, as such, illegal. ATPM does not condone such downloads, and any links to such that we cannot verify are legitimate will be removed.

If you are not interested in using the iTunes Music Store (and no one blames you if you are not), then I would recommend purchasing music from's new MP3 service which offers DRM-free music for sale.
Ellyn Ritterskamp (ATPM Staff) · March 2, 2008 - 14:18 EST #12
There are indeed several websites which offer workout assistance. My attempts to use a few indicate that they use their workout instructions and your existing music. Many are designed for Windows only and not Apple, which irritates me because the iPod was originally Apple-only. But I guess they have figured out the market.

You might look into podcasts on the iTunes store, many of which are free, but I have not tested any, to have recommendations.

There is also the Nike + Apple arrangement, available at the Apple store. I have not tested it but it has a well-known brand name behind it, which is either good or bad, depending on your perspective.

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