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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now, of course, besides new television seasons, the New Year brings resolutions, and many of us are - or at least were planning to - rev up our exercise. Here at MORNING EDITION, we're spending the next few weeks asking athletes, actors and also you - our listeners - about the music that gets your workouts going. And who better to start off with than the artist behind that classic workout track?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PHYSICAL")

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN: (Singing) Let's get physical, physical, I wanna get physical, let's get into physical. Let me hear your body talk, your body talk, let me hear your body talk...

GREENE: Your body's surely talking. Olivia Newton-John, musician, says the song that would become an exercise anthem didn't really start out that way.

NEWTON-JOHN: When the song actually came out, I recorded it, thought it was a great song but then had a panic attack and called my manager and said, you can't put this out. It's too over the top, and it's too risque. And he says, too late, it's gone to radio. So then I said, well, you know what? I think we need to make it more about exercise.

GREENE: So they made a music video. In 1981, that took place in a gym with sweatbands and leotards - remember those? - and they tried to cast the lyrics in a less risque light.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PHYSICAL")

NEWTON-JOHN: (Singing) I've been patient, I've been good, trying to keep my hands on the table...

GREENE: Now, Olivia Newton-John herself doesn't work out to this song. She told us that listening to her own music while exercising would be weird. Turns out she doesn't listen to any music when she does her cardio. She doesn't have an iPod or anything, and so she says she puts on CNN or the History Channel.

NEWTON-JOHN: I have a home gym, so I get on my treadmill and I put on the television. That's when I usually catch up on the news, or I catch up on a documentary or something.

GREENE: But being a good sport, she did pick out three songs for us that get her moving.

NEWTON-JOHN: There'd be a couple of songs I could think of that I would love to work out to. One is the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" - always loved that. Every time that comes on in a club, I have to get up.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BROWN SUGAR")

ROLLING STONES: (Singing) Brown sugar, how come you taste so good? Brown sugar, just like a young girl should...

GREENE: Olivia Newton-John is a true Stones fan; she also mentioned the song "Honky Tonk Woman." And she chose something a little more contemporary, too.

NEWTON-JOHN: "I Gotta Feeling," by the Black Eyed Peas.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I GOTTA FEELING")

BLACK EYED PEAS: (Singing) I gotta feeling, that tonight's gonna be a good night, that tonight's gonna be a good night, that tonight's gonna be a good, good night...

NEWTON-JOHN: Yeah, that's it. I love that song.

GREENE: So there you have it - three songs that get actress and singer Olivia Newton-John up and moving. And in the coming weeks, we'll be talking to all sorts of people to find out what music inspires a run or a gym visit or a swim. Let's call it the Ultimate NPR Workout Mix - we'll make the CD later. You can weigh in with all of your picks at NPR.org/Music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I GOTTA FEELING")

BLACK EYED PEAS: (Singing) Go out and smash it, like oh my god, jump off that sofa, let's get, get off. I know that we'll have a ball, if we get down and go out and just lose it all. I feel stressed out, I wanna let it go. Let's go way out, spaced out, and losing all control...

GREENE: This is NPR News.

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