Posted by: GeekHiker | November 2, 2009

Competing Cacophony

The gym is hardly one of those places that I expect to be silent.  I mean, you’ve got a lot of people there, in a fairly enclosed space.

Machines are humming, weights are banging around, resistance equipment weight stacks are being dropped.  People are in various stages of panting, gruning, groaning.  Some, like me, are relatively quiet when they lift weights; others make an announcement to the whole gym that they are.

But that’s what a gym is all about.

On top of that, though, you’ve got the music that they play over the speaker system.  There are TV’s running, but their sound is sent through FM channels.  Which would be okay, except that some nights it all turns into an all-out sound competition.

Those nights tend to be when there’s more people.  More people equals more noise, so whoever controls the gym’s sound system decides to compensate by turning the volume up.

This can be exceptionally annoying, not just for the higher volume, but also since the channel is inevitably some XM “hits of the 90’s and today!” (exclamation point included) every night.  Apparently over the course of those nearly 20 years exactly 9 songs were produced, eight of them in the last two years.  All nine of them, and only those nine, must, by some unwritten law, must be played in endless rotation.  I have grown to hate those nine songs.  Heck it wasn’t even a matter of liking the nine songs beforehand.  No, I didn’t like them before, and now I actually loathe them.  But I digress.

Of course, with my luck, my preferred cardo machines happen to sit directly under the speakers.  Not wishing to listen to the loathed songs, I tune in the TV, and crank the volume up in a vain attempt to compensate.  At which point someone cranks up the volume on the XM crap.

You can see where this is going, don’t you?

Some nights I feel like I’m drowning in noise.  It all becomes just one big grunting-clanging-panting-banging-OhMyGodIt’sThatFuckingSongAgain-humming cascade of noise that I can’t seem to get away from.  All of which seems to increase in volume and sheer cacophony as the night goes on.  I don’t expect silence at the gym, but does it have to be an all-out war on my eardrums?

Maybe I should just wear earplugs.

At least it’s not that way every night.  Some nights are blissful.  The stereo is low, there aren’t many people there, and I can keep the volume on my earplugs reasonable.  If I’m lucky, one of the TV’s is even tuned to something interesting, like a news story that I find fascinating.  I can stay on the cardio machine and be pleasantly distracted from my exertions by that.

Tonight was one of those nights.

At least until someone had the channel changed to football.

Just can’t win.



  1. ‘Living la vida loca’ and that song ‘I just wanna fly/put your arms around me baby.’

    Every freakin’ day at the gym when I was in grad school. Grrr.

    On the other hand, since I didn’t listen to top-40 radio stations or watch MTV, there’s no way I would have known what the popular songs were without the gym songs.

    Don’t know that the trade-off was really worth it, tho’.

  2. Add this to the list of reasons why I work out at home. The gym just seems like a torture chamber to me. Do you have an ipod you can wear w/your own music? Or better yet, a small budget to start buying your own equipment to keep in your living room?

  3. Hmmmm….I have been putting “get XM radio” in the suggestion box at the gym for months. Maybe I should reconsider. Although, can the 9 songs in rotation be worse than commericals that are twice as loud as the music and DJs who talk about Britney Spears and Kanye West (even though the radio station doesn’t play those two artists)
    Oh, the grass is always greener…

  4. I work out at home; it works for me right now. I can just let it all out and be totally goofy. But I do like gyms and being around people. I think I workout harder in a gym.

    The only solutions I can think of for you have equally annoying effects some other way. But your venting was funny! I hope you get more of those good days at the gym. 🙂

  5. I had a 6 hour round-trip work meeting in Houston and was held hostage to the 90 of the 90s station. Urgh! Why is Phil Collins even on that station?? He was 90 in the 90s!!

  6. AbsurdBeats – The real question is: if they came on the radio now, would you be able to sing along without a second thought?

    Well, I can play music on my player as well, but then it’s just one song fighting the other for control of my head!

    Hebba – If you can get them to just CHANGE the channel occasionally, you’ll be okay…

    MissMcCracken – I never could work out at home. The couch is just too tempting…

    TheCoconutDiaries – LOL, I have no words for that one!

  7. my gym is a YMCA and there is no music in the fitness room, and the TVs are on mute, so you need headphones to hear them. i thought that’s how it is everywhere. i guess i learned something new today.

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