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Seoul's New COVID Rules Target Gym Music

Songs in group exercise classes can't exceed 120bpm, to prevent the 'spatter' of saliva, sweat
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2021 7:18 AM CDT

(Newser) – Seoul has seen a recent spike in COVID cases, but the government's latest health measure in the South Korean capital to try to contain them has prompted a fair amount of head-scratching. Gymgoers in Seoul won't be able to rely on hard-driving music to get their hearts pumping during their next session, as new guidelines dictate that, while in group exercise classes such as spinning or aerobics, tunes faster than 120 beats per minute (bpm) are banned, reports CNN. "Harsh breathing from intense activities can spatter a lot of saliva," the nation's Health Ministry explained in a release. Treadmills in gyms are also seeing restrictions, limited to about 3.72 miles per hour, or a 16-minute mile. A health official says the guidelines were arrived at to avoid having to completely shut gyms down, and after "taking into consideration a broad range of opinions," reports Reuters.

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Patrons and gym owners remain unconvinced that music choice is an effective mitigation tool. "My biggest question is whether playing classical music or BTS songs has proven to have any impact on spreading the virus," says one gym owner in the northern part of the city. He also posed an interesting logistical dilemma: "Many people use their own earphones and wearable devices these days. ... How do you control their playlists?" In a bit of good news for locals, the BBC does note that, of the top 10 songs on the South Korean pop charts at the moment, eight of them meet the bpm benchmark. The broadcaster even offers a suggested playlist. (Read more Seoul stories.)

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