Please do stop the music: South Korea says gym workout jams must be slow amid COVID outbreak

South Korea gym (USAG- Humphreys/Flickr)

For those that like listening to music to amp themselves up at the gym in South Korea, they’ll have to find alternative ways to get them ready for their workout thanks to new COVID-19 guidelines from the country.

As the country deals with a new outbreak of the virus, officials implemented new rules that gyms are not allowed to play music that is higher than 120 beats per minute (bpm) during group workouts, like aerobic or spin classes.

For reference, the BTS hit songs “Dynamite” and “Butter” are just under 120 bpm, meaning they can be played. However, top songs on Billboard’s Top 100 like “good 4 u” by Olivia Rodrigo and “Bad Habits” by Ed Sheeran would not be permitted.

Health officials said the new rule is meant to prevent gym-goers from breathing too fast or getting sweat on people next to them. Other measures put in place include a maximum speed of 3.73 miles per hour on a treadmill and the closure of gym showers.

Gym owner Kang Hyun-ku told Reuters he likes to play fast-paced music in his gym in Seoul, and questioned how officials would be able to stop those wearing headphones.

“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 said. “Many people use their own earphones and wearable devices these days, and how do you control their playlists?”

The new rules come as the country deals with its worst outbreak of COVID-19 since the pandemic began last year. The 1,378 positive cases on Saturday were a record high, and 1,110 new cases were reported on Monday. Officials said on Friday that cluster infections could result in daily infections reaching over 2,000 by the end of July.

In the capital city of Seoul, which makes up a majority of the positive cases, all events and nightlife businesses must close and only two people can gather after 6 p.m. The Korean Baseball Organization, the county’s top professional baseball league, suspended its season Monday after multiple players tested positive for the virus.


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