Sunday, January 06, 2013

Gym music

The gym we go to has a bunch of TVs hanging over the cardio machines, two of which run music videos and ads - most of which are for the gym itself, which strikes me as preaching to the choir somewhat. The ads that I really don't get, though, are the Ministry of Sound exercise/training CDs.

It's not just the casual sexism or (frankly embarassing) use of free-running in them, though. I don't understand why anybody would want to listen to that while working out.

To an extent, I can understand the appeal of high-speed (or at least up-tempo) music to keep yourself motivated when you're, say, running. If nothing else, a regular beat will keep you moving at a consistent pace, or remind you to pick it up. But when I'm in the gym, I'm not trying to set any records - if anything, I want to tune out, forget where I am and stop looking at the timer on the treadmill every two bloody minutes.

I tend to get bored pretty quickly when I'm on a treadmill or the rowing machine, too - so I need variety in both the exercise and the music I'm listening to. On the treadmill especially, its keeping the pace for me - so I don't need the soundtrack to do that too. A constant techno thump isn't interesting.

As an example, here's a selection of the artists I listened to at the gym on Friday (from memory):

  • Art Blakey*
  • Plumtree
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • Bill Evans Trio
  • Bad Religion
  • Aimee Mann
  • Passion Pit

I'm sure that, in the event I was ever doing a competitive race or similar, I'd probably choose a more consistently encouraging selection of music, but keeping the music varied makes the gym experience more enjoyable. And if I'm not enjoying it, I'll give up (again...), so every little thing I can do to ease the pain of a 20-minute jog at 6.30am has to be worth it.

*A nine-minute jazz piece might seem like it'd get a little samey, but there's enough variation with all the different solos that it's as good as several shorter songs.

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