Can music motivate you at the gym?

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The big thing in gyms now is apparently music. Various production houses, most notably Muzak, have created music services specifically with gyms and health clubs in mind. The idea is to use music to motivate the gym rats to step it up a notch, on the theory that music will turn a dull routine into something exciting and fun. Which sounds plausible enough, but there are a couple of problems. First of course is the fact that the music that excites one person will annoy the hell out of the person on the next machine. But I also wonder if there’s a basic flaw in the assumption. Not that music can affect the body during exercise – that’s backed by some pretty solid evidence. But will music motivate you to go to the gym? Seems to me that if you get up early in the morning or take time in the evening to go the club, you’re already motivated. Will music, as the Muzak providers suggest to the gym owners, get the weightlifters to try to work in one extra set? Sounds like a recipe for injury to me.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just jealous. My workout routine culminates in a swim of about 2 kilometers each morning before work, and they won’t be pumping tunes into the pool anytime soon… But even if you’re just doing sit-ups, how do you keep count if you’re distracted by the music?

So many questions. Would the right music get you to workout if you don’t already? Would you prefer to have music piped in from outside, or would you rather listen on your iPod? Is it more fun to be sharing the communal experience of hearing the same songs at the same time, or do you get a better workout from a playlist you put together yourself? Leave a comment.