I was doing leg presses in a fridge sized gym resembling an underground dungeon designed by mentally ill fans of the almighty rainbow pony. The rush hour was going strong. Muscle building monkeys from all around the city were dancing with dumbbells in their hands and bumping chaotically into each other. An ancient rap CD with the greatest hits of all time was looping. At one point “Hypnotize” by Notorious B.I.G. started shaking the place through the massive speakers in the corners. The bass was noticeable, and I was able to feel the highly infected seat of the leg press shake. I even had to readjust some of my private parts to their appropriate places before continuing.
A weird looking guy wearing a black wife-beater shirt began nodding his head and flicking his wrist like gangsta rappers do in music videos full of vibrating glutes. He was definitely a steroid user who was trying to “move it, move it.”
“This is what I call REAL music. Fuck that “Where the hell is Molly?” trap trash,” said the man to his training partner.
“Yeah, bro. The East Coast boom bam rap with organic in your face drums is where it’s at. The way old school rappers used to talk about bitches is simply spiritual, you know. None of that new school “tststststststststststststststststssssssssssssssssss” RoboCop sound. Generation Justin Biever does not know what good music is and never will. It’s a mystery to them,” replied the other guy while doing improvised beatboxing and spreading his saliva around.
He appeared to be one of those “I suck mommy’s tits every evening under the moonlight, but I am still a gangsta gangsta rapper nevertheless.” kinda of guy. He was wearing red Supra sneakers with the tongues out, 50 Cent’s baseball hat and dirty baggy gym clothes. On his right wrist there was one of those golden two-storey digital watches that supposedly can survive the hit of a barbell loaded with a PR deadlift. The guy was training triceps, chest and abdominals in a circuit. Being close to him during his working sets felt like walking next to a volcano on a timer. He was pumped and almost ready to fight.
The classic rap song gave them some serious energy and a healthy dose of violent juice milked straight out of Rambo. Upon hearing the intro they went to back the weights, and I saw the demon “Kill it”, which is usually controlled by Rich Piana, take over the better of them. The big guy got under a barbell and started bench pressing while producing sounds suggesting a fight with a hungry bear in the wilderness. The grimace on his face added more life to this already rich experience. At the same time his homie returned to the cable machine and treated like a lumberjack cutting a criminal tree. “I’ll fuck you and your mother,” he said. After the set was complete he let the stack of weights fall and clash against the rest of the plates. Then he did a most muscular pose in front of the mirror – his tongue was out – of course.
This reminded me of the obvious fact that 90% of the music pumping in commercial gyms is rap, metal and rock. The main reason is that those genres can wake the violent wolf in you the fastest by making you angry and hungry for vengeance. Aggression and violence seem to be essential elements when it comes to lifting music in general. We are taught to hate the weights and our human opponents, because they feel the same way about us. You should never love somebody who hates you, correct?
It’s understandable why people hate gravity and heavy iron. That duo truly seems to be the biggest enemy in the gym. It represents a fire you should play with carefully without getting hurt. As a result you become slightly more immune to higher temperatures. This is how you get stronger.
Another important part of rap and radio music in general is the sex element. It’s strong, very strong. Virtually all mainstream rap songs contain sexual suggestive lyrics. This makes the genre even more suited to be a bodybuilding soundtrack. It appeals to many people in the gym who are shallow and always want to touch and squeeze things. I am talking about the tattooed, shaved, oiled and tanned degenerates who only see themselves and nothing else. Rap pumps both – your muscles and your dick. Bodybuilders are fans of full body pumping and the union is magical.
A few years ago I was going through the mp3s on my phone. I had a discography containing tons of dirty south rap. I liked the overall sound of the songs, but the lyrics were killing me. When I began to analyze the real message of the tunes, I remembered my music teacher in high school. Oh, boy was she fat. She was the type of fat that takes the elevator to go down from the first floor to the ground floor. However, she was not a bad woman, and I recall one of her quotes about rap: “Once I tried listening to rap, but I felt too dirty.” I experienced the same thing and deleted all of my dirty south and commenced listening to instrumentals only.
Instrumentals cause less distortion of your in-built emotional frequency compared to music with lyrics you can understand. Without the words all that’s left is music and the world seems cleaner that way. You can choose what to daydream about. If only instrumentals were playing in the gym, it would be way better. Of course, this is not going to happen because the gym manager does not care. He just loops a CD or starts the radio, and songs about riding animals and blowing whistles fill the room. I don’t expect gyms to be pumping symphony battles between Beethoven and Mozart, but going up a level is not a bad thing.
The next important question is: Do we really need music in the gym in the first place?
While the music pumping in most gyms is essentially a mainstream collection of low level vibrations meant to brainwash the bio waste found nearby, there’s something that could be more dangerous – silence. What is a gym without music? How does it sound? Exactly like a hardcore porn movie taking place in a steel factory. “One more oooooo, one more uuuuuu, one more uuuuuuhhhhh….yeah, baby !!!!!!! One more uuuuuuu”.
The way people scream in the gym could be disgusting and music acts as a silencer. Therefore, I don’t think commercial gyms can afford to stop the sound system permanently.
Back in the day I used to bring a tiny 10-year-old mp3 player with me to get pumped and do my best lifts. If that little gadget was not with me, I was feeling weaker. I wanted to listen to my own selection of vibrations. However, at one point I started training at home more often and decided to try the silence method and cut down all entertainment during training. At first you are going to feel weird, but once you adapt, there are benefits. The first one is that you don’t get over-hyped. Yes, this is a real thing. You can always make a task more complicated than it is and when that happens your problems grow. In the case of lifting you are starting to believe that what you are doing is way more difficult that it actually is. When you learn to train in silence, you don’t overheat as easily and just list. You are less likely to imagine that your are in the boxing fight of the century, which is the goal of most motivational music. It takes time to learn that you are not actually saving the planet by lifting weights, but eventually most people realize it.
Back in the day people were suffering from entertainment deficit because it was too expensive to go to the theater. These days the world is suffering from overwhelming amount of noise sources. We are all used to having a talking machine playing in the background constantly. It calms us down and reduces the loneliness. I am not an exception, but one time I thought about the following: what would happen if all external sounds and entertainment are reduced to a minimum? The first answer that comes to my mind is death by boredom, but there’s also a hidden asset in similar strategies – the mind will finally have some time to recover from that never-ending spam, which acts as a mediator between our thoughts and inner personality. Sometimes you need to turn down the volume in order to hear your own music playing – the one that’s silenced by the radio.
P. S. I guess this means that a post entitled: “What I Learned From Training With Earplugs In The Gym” is coming one day.