Music in gyms - motivation or distraction?

December 1st, 2010 - 1:57 pm ICT by IANS  

By Shilpa Raina
New Delhi, Dec 1 (IANS) If you’re in a gym, chances are you’ll be pumping iron while listening to music, perhaps even from a DJ! While some experts feel pulsating music can motivate you for a workout, others feel it’s a distraction and takes the focus away from exercise.

Shelly Mahajan, a fitness freak, hits the gym every day in the morning with groggy eyes, but the music helps her to get into the momentum.

Music is an essential part of a gym and with a growing demand, most gyms these days have live DJ sessions or international music to make the workout a fun session.

Nicholas Kraal, business development manager of Mumbai-based True Fitness India Pvt Ltd, says music is a great motivator.

“We have a dedicated DJ booth and professional DJs spin music from 6 a.m. to midnight. Equipped with the latest collection of music, our DJs also take music requests and play fun, fast-paced, pumping music to motivate and excite our members during workout sessions,” Kraal told IANS.

“The atmosphere provided in a gym is of utmost importance to us. We believe that music complements our state-of-the-art premium facilities.”

Gyms have to make sure different music is used for different activities so that it matches the pace of that particular workout.

“Certain classes require specialised music based on beats. Aerobic instructors use music to keep the 32-count (32-beats per minute) or 120 beat per minute. A high impact class can even have anything between 130-140 beats per minute,” said Althea Shah, general manager (operations) and fitness expert of the Gold Gym, Mumbai.

“There are aerobic songs for every decade, pretty much from the 1940s through the 1990s. Classes sometimes cater not by age but by musical taste with beach, jazz, hip-hop, Latin, classic rock, country, Broadway, classical, club, and disco aerobic music,” he added.

Shah also points out that the reception area, spa and changing rooms have soft music playing while the workout area has fast paced music.

Some people prefer listening to their own collection while gymming and Amit Nigam is one of them - he prefers to bring in his own iPod for a workout.

“There are times when you get bored of the same beats or music and if you love a particular music genre, listening to another one can be torturous,” he said.

“I like listening to trance, but mostly the gyms stick to the latest hits or hip-hops, so I avoid that and bring my own music. I prefer it this way,” he added.

And there are a few who like to watch TV while working out and Kraal says it is a matter of personal choice.

“Watching TV or listening to personal music while working out is a personal choice and we respect that. Some members may find it more motivating to listen to a personal play list while others prefer TV as it helps them to take their mind off the physical exertion,” he said.

“The iPod can be clipped on to your arm or T-shirt. It is tiny and so can be totally forgotten and you can workout without worrying about your headphones being dragged from your ears every 30 seconds,” he added.

But there are some who don’t like any distractions while gymming. Delhi-based personal trainer Aashu, who has been in the profession for over 14 years, prefers to train without music or television and doesn’t agree with the “music motivational” theory.

“Listening to music or watching TV is just a way of getting distracted and not giving 100 percent to your workout and this affects results,” he said.

“What happens when you are listening to your favourite music? Half your mind is enjoying it, and the other half is trying to get the posture right - so the focus that one requires in a workout is not there.”

“People believe music motivates them, but does it actually? Why does one need music to motivate one for a workout? This is a clear indication that they are not enjoying their workout and doing it just for the sake of it. They need to change their workout, not music,” he added.

Another fitness expert, Tasneem Zaki, also agrees with Aashu.

“I believe when you are doing cardio, it’s good to listen to music because it helps to distract attention from the speedometer. But if you are doing weight-training, free-hand exercises or floor exercises, it’s always better to switch off the music,” he said.

(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at

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