South Korean capital bans fast workout music in gyms as Covid measure

Written by on July 13, 2021

Gym members on the treadmill amid at a fitness club in Seoul, South Korea, on July 12.

(CNN) -Gyms in the South Korean capital are about to adopt an unusual Covid prevention strategy: play slower music. The Health Ministry is implementing a number of new measures as the country continues battling a coronavirus outbreak that has seen daily cases climb steeply since late June.

In the capital Seoul, new rules mean specific workout classes, such as spinning and aerobics, are not allowed to play the music that is faster than 120 beats per minute (BPM), since “harsh breathing from intense activities can spatter a lot of saliva,” said the ministry in a news release.

That means songs like Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” or Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball,” which are both at 120 BPM, are fine — but even slightly faster songs, like Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi,”are out.

Treadmills in gyms are also limited to a speed of six kilometers per hour (about 3.72 miles per hour — making that roughly a 16-minute mile).The ministry added that they implemented new rules in gyms because it’s difficult to properly wear masks or social distance while exercising, especially during group classes, therefore making it more likely for people to become close contacts.

The measures have sparked protest and ridicule, with some pointing out that most people don’t know the BPM of the songs they listen to by heart. For Kang Hyun-Ku, an owner of a gym in northern Seoul, lining up fast, funky K-pop songs on his playlist was his morning routine.

“Playing bright tracks is to cheer up our members and the overall mood, but my biggest question is whether playing classical music or BTS songs has proven to have any impact on spreading the virus,” Kang told Reuters.”Many people use their own earphones and wearable devices these days, and how do you control their playlists?”

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