I Swapped My Usual Gym Playlist For Iconic Rom-Com Songs

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10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, Julia Stiles (front), 1999,  Buena Vista/courtesy Everett Collection

I’ve always been a bit of a rom-com girl. In college, my friends and I would order impressive amounts of Pizza Hut and yell advice at the characters through the screen. But the best part was always the music. Whether it was the montage of women slipping on their lingerie to KT Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See” in “The Devil Wears Prada,” or more recently, Still Woozy’s dreamy single for the highly anticipated “Anyone But You,” rom-com music has a way of sticking with you. So when I noticed my own gym playlist needed upgrading, I wondered why I hadn’t turned to rom-coms earlier.

In an act of pure inspiration, I created a new playlist with 29 songs from some of the most iconic rom-coms of all time — think “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” “13 Going on 30,” “10 Things I Hate About You,” “Someone Great,” and “27 Dresses” (to name a few). In making my picks, I searched for scene-stealing tracks that could withstand the chaos of a commercial gym. Initially, I felt confident with my final lineup, but I started to worry if this new compilation would hype me up in the same way I’d come to expect from my normal workout selection.

I wanted to put the rom-com playlist to the test, but truthfully, I walked into the gym already feeling a little defeated. I had 30 solid minutes of cardio ahead of me, and a brand-new queue of songs to face. Although I love a good rom-com soundtrack on its own, I was relying on these cinematic throwbacks to make my stint on the elliptical a little less painful, which meant the stakes were high.

It took me a while to get in the right mindset, only making it halfway through Madonna‘s “Like a Prayer” (“Never Been Kissed”) and Stevie Wonder’s “Signed Sealed Delivered” (“You’ve Got Mail”). In an incredibly Gen-Z moment, I was finally saved by Olivia Rodrigo, getting fired up via “Bad Idea, Right?” à la Sydney Sweeney in “Anyone But You.”

Lil Jon was up next, and I almost forgot I was conducting a legitimate scientific trial . . . until I remembered Sandra Bullock dropping it low in “The Proposal.” In another win for “Anyone But You,” I listened to Remi Wolf and Dominic Fike’s “Photo ID” twice, getting lost in the groovy melody. With five minutes left on the clock, I finished strong with some certified bangers, including Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” (“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”) and resisted the urge to sing-scream every lyric karaoke-style. Elton John took it home with “Benny and the Jets” (“27 Dresses”), in which 2.75 miles seemed to have flown.

Sadly, the gym was still packed and I needed a vacant machine, anxiously skipping past Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” because all I could think about was Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin‘s dancing in “Something Borrowed.” I settled on lat pulldowns and Coolio’s “Rollin’ With My Homies” (from “Clueless”), and when the endorphins start hitting, I felt like I was at that house party with Cher. Whitney Houston got me through my tricep dips and I left the gym with my head held high, feeling like my own kind of main character.

I can’t say any one playlist is going to totally transform your workout, but working out to rom-coms was definitely the escape I was looking for. For a boost of confidence at the gym, check out the playlist I used below, featuring a mix of throwbacks, timeless classics, and modern hits.

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