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The Culture of Gym Music in Toronto

I have only ever gone to gyms in Toronto so I don't know if they differ around the world, but I assume that what passes for "gym music" at Toronto gyms is probably pretty homogenous across most of Canada and the USA.

Which is to say it is "upbeat dance music", which in Toronto means you would normally hear this kind of music at a dance club downtown and not anywhere else - except for apparently, Toronto gyms.

Listening to the same dance music over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over can get pretty annoying however.

Gyms however simply don't care about the quality of their music, their primary goal is to make your credit card bill bigger by overbilling you multiple times per month, charging for extra services, and charging you one extra month on the day you cancel your gym membership*.

* That actually happened to me with Extreme Fitness. I cancelled my credit card because I had heard they overcharge people for months and months after your membership was cancelled because they CAN and then claim that the person never cancelled their membership / claim it was a billing error / refuse to refund the monies owed to the customer. So after cancelling my card I called them up and cancelled my membership, and the woman on the phone tried to charge my credit card for an extra month while I was on the phone - and was very rude to me after she discovered I had cancelled my credit card and thwarted her attempt to deliberately overcharge me. Also I should note that according to CBC's Marketplace, Extreme Fitness is not the only company that routinely does these things. The whole gym industry does it, which is why the last time I got a gym membership it was for Ryerson University - which is non-profit and has no goal to overcharge people. I still paid with cash however, so word to the wise - if you get a gym membership in Toronto, always pay with cash.

Anyway, back to my primary topic - gym music.

Because gym music is so appalling many people end up bringing their smart phone or mp3 player and listening to their own music instead. Which begs the question, if the music is so bad and people are listening to their own, why not just get rid of the music and replace it with relative peace and quiet? Would it be because then we would have to listen to people grunting on the machines, chatting to each other, gulping down water, idiots dispensing health advice, the one vegan guy who is always trying to convince people to become vegans, etc...?

In which case maybe what gym goers really need is tranquil background noises, that aren't music at all. The sound of a thunderstorm for example. Or tranquil chirping of birds. Whatever. Just so its not the same upbeat dance music over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. Because clearly that junk isn't helping anyone and everyone clearly prefers to listen to their own music anyway.

Everyone has different musical tastes. The percentage of people who actually enjoy listening to dance music all the time is probably a pretty small percentage of Toronto's diverse population.

Musical taste is often directly correlated between social status (meaning wealth) and socio-economic and ethnic background. At least according to a study published in 2015 in the Canadian Review of Sociology, and written by a professor from UBC. The study involved nearly 1,600 telephone interviews with adults in Vancouver and Toronto, who were asked about their likes and dislikes of 21 musical genres.

The study determined that poorer, less-educated people tended to like country, disco, easy listening, golden oldies, heavy metal and rap. Meanwhile, their wealthier and often better-educated counterparts preferred genres such as classical, blues, jazz, opera, choral, pop, reggae, rock, world and musical theatre.

So a more specific genre like "dance pop", the kind of which is played in gyms really only appeals to one group of people - wealthy or well off young white people between the ages of 20 and 29. Which for a gym, really shows what their target audience is - young people with money.

And gym music targets women - specifically young white women with money, who are often single (but that doesn't mean you should talk to them!!!) and insecure about their bodies.

Men in contrast are less worried about their bodies. A man having a "little extra weight" is considered to be a cultural norm by society. Women with a beer gut however, that is considered to be outright scary.

There is also a solid argument that the culture of gym music is even racist, because it is so specifically geared towards white women who are insecure about their bodies, have money, and feel that they have to look attractive physically in order to attract a man (which should never happen at the gym by the way, because the man in question will likely be a horrible person who is only attracted to physical looks).

If you know of a gym in Toronto that DOES NOT play horrible dance pop music please post a comment about it in the comments below. With any luck it will be a boxing gym or something similar, as the sound of grunting and people hitting punching bags is normal there - music at such a location would be considered idiotic.

Also if you are one of those people who actually likes gym music I invite you to listen to the Flo Rida song "Right Round" 100 times or until you finally agree with me. (I heard that song roughly every 30 minutes whenever I was at Extreme Fitness. It is an abomination of an old 80s song.)

ADVICE

  • Bring your own music to the gym.
  • Better yet, skip the gym treadmill and go jogging outside.
  • Love your music, love yourself.
  • Try new genres of music sometimes. It won't hurt to broaden your horizons.
  • Try new exercises regularly. It doesn't hurt to try new things in general.
  • Try new sports that are outdoors. Extra fresh air never hurt you.

Personal Note - While writing this post I did a search of my mp3 collection for the word "love" and then made a playlist of songs with love in the title. The first song on the list is 10cc's "I'm not in love". YouTube video below if you are curious.


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