Tabata Songs: YouTube’s Most Viewed CrossFit Video Ever

October 29, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Meg Ellery
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“Welcome to Tabata!” Does that line ring a bell? If you haven’t heard it during a Tabata wod at your CrossFit affiliate, chances are you have probably heard it in a past YouTube video with Mat Fraser or other Games athletes.

Or perhaps you are one of many who know exactly what it is from–Tabata Songs–The team that creates music specifically for Tabata workouts.

If you have ever stared at the clock while performing a Tabata and wondered “how can 20 seconds possibly feel so long?”…you are not alone. Tabata is one of the best ways to improve your fitness, but it can be tough to lead a full class through it all while coaching movement and making adjustments.

Enter Jay Driscoll. Driscoll was a musician by job and a CrossFitter by hobby and was part of a touring band in 2011. He and bandmate John Wayno worked to stay fit while on the road in between performances.

  • Driscoll: “While we were touring, Wayno and I would do a lot of workouts together. He was training for a marathon at the time, and I was just getting interested in CrossFit and functional fitness in general. We were doing a lot of hotel room workouts and parking lot sprints.”

Driscoll found that Tabata was one of the protocols that would pop up and be perfect for them – they would do a four-minute workout with a couple of different movements and then do a few sets of that, varying the movements.

  • “One time in particular, we were alternating Tabata intervals of sprints and push-ups.  I remember trying to look at my watch while doing push-ups, then on a full sprint in a parking lot, which was a really bad idea.”
  • The idea for the music came from the fact that we were doing these movements, but we didn’t have anything to effectively time them with.”

Driscoll thought it would be cool to have some sort of a timer that had music built in because he always liked to sprint during a chorus of a song and jog during the verse. At that point in CrossFit, there were some timers on the market, and there were timer apps available, but nothing that combined music with a coach’s voice to guide the athlete through the Tabata.

Driscoll wanted to bridge the gap.

  • “I wanted to try to write music that would actually guide the listener through the Tabata intervals. So I made a couple of songs, just for myself, and I tested it with Tabata sprints in my backyard, and loved it.”

It worked, and Driscoll knew he had something.

  • “I took the idea to my bandmate, John Wayno, who was getting into music production at the time, and asked him to help me make a few more songs. We did it, and we called it Tabata Songs. We did it more or less just for ourselves and a few of our other friends, and we put it out to the world through iTunes.”
  • “It started gaining traction as time went on. When we started seeing downloads from thousands of people around the world we realized that this idea might be worth putting some more effort into.”
  • “In 2016 we started recording Tabata cover songs. Basically recording our own Tabata versions of classic workout songs like “Eye of the Tiger” and “Back in Black.”
Photo Credit: Jay Driscoll

Driscoll found great joy in the fact that he could combine his interests and passions of music and fitness. The guys began to utilize YouTube as a vehicle to spread the content and to do it as less of a follow-along option and more as a way to demonstrate how people might use it in context.

  • Driscoll: “In 2013 I visited the local CrossFit gym, Pioneer Valley CrossFit (now Norwottuck CrossFit), and asked the owner Liz if any athletes might want to film some Tabata videos with me. She introduced me to Jim Rego.”
  • “I filmed Jim performing an eight movement Tabata circuit around the gym in front of a bunch of Home Depot construction lights that I bought that day!”

This was ten years ago. Jim’s video became the most viewed “CrossFit” video on YouTube (not counting the new YouTube Shorts) and has sat in the top three most viewed “CrossFit” videos for the last decade.

YouTube’s most viewed “CrossFit” video. Photo credit: Jim Rego & Tabata Songs

Driscoll was able to make similar videos with Mat Fraser and Andrea Ager, which also currently sit in the top ten most viewed CrossFit videos on YouTube. Other notable CrossFit athletes who have been featured on the channel include Annie Thorisdottir, Brooke Ence, EZ Muhammad, Dmitry Klokov, Jake Marconi, Rasmus Andersen and Alex Vigneault.

Driscoll and his team record and create all of the music they release – they never simply add a countdown over another song, and it can be a real team effort. 

  • “Often, we will record the tracks in our studio and then have a singer from somewhere else record the vocals. If we need an instrument that we don’t play, we will do the same thing there.”
  • “With any Tabata song that you hear, we’ve played and recorded every instrument and every vocal that you’re listening to.”

Behind the Scenes “Eye of the Tiger (Tabata)” | The Making of a Tabata Song”

1 Million Strong

The sky is the limit for the future of Tabata Songs. They just reached the 1 Million YouTube subscriber Milestone and have many new projects in the works:

  • Tabata Songs Plus- An app where subscribers can access follow-along Tabata workouts and filter by duration, equipment and more. Plus users can access to the entire music catalog, including early access to the songs the company releases monthly on Spotify and Apple Music
  • Tabata Kids Follow-along style Tabata workouts for kids!
  • EMOM Songs- That’s right music for your EMOM workouts! 
  • Driscoll: “We are beyond grateful for the opportunity to make a living by combining our passions of music and fitness. Neither of which are easy industries to break into!”

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