A reason to plug-in: The wonderful world of pump-up music

From Heavy Metal to Beethoven’s fifth symphony, music is the motivational coach you didn’t know you needed.

“I don’t even know what that means” “No one knows what it means, but it’s provocative” “No, it’s not, it’s gro-” “Gets the people GOING!” Graphic Joey Bruce

An icy wind cuts at the cheeks of the face covered by a ski mask.

A fun runner drives one leg forward after the other in a paced rhythm as part of a cardio workout. With the black ice-covered road providing as little friction as possible in -20 C weather, the sole motivation keeping his legs churning blares from a pair of earbuds playing a playlist labelled Pump-Up Music.

Numerous websites and research support music being beneficial for exercise, meaning that the necessity of a musically motivated gym session thrives in the world of fitness. 

“I need music in the locker room,” said McGill Redbirds offensive lineman Zachary Aboud.  “When it comes to football, if I don’t have the music to get me hyped, I feel like I’m missing a part of my game.” 

As a student-athlete who frequents the gym, Aboud has used music as a tool throughout the many years of his training, yet it’s during the pre-game hype up with his team when Aboud commends the art form. “It’s always fun being together with your teammates,” Aboud says. “Singing along and getting all pumped up with your friends, getting ready to go play football. [Music] definitely has an impact for me.”  

“When I’m in the gym, I have to listen to a certain kind of music,” said Eric Von Arx, a Montreal-based actor, musician, and model. Von Arx is at the gym three times a week, where he assesses his state of mind and selects the type of music based on his mood. 

“If I feel that it’s going to be a long day and I don’t have the energy, I listen to more feel-good stuff. Sometimes I’ll listen to country.” Von Arx would admit. On the days he feels more enthusiastic, he plays “crazy stuff like pop-punk,” to maintain an energetic state of mind. 

Von Arx’s method is sound. Music has been known to affect your mood, but diversity in music genres can factor into motivating people in different ways. One study conducted by the National Center For Health Research shows that the right music can change your thought process, along with changes in behaviour. 

Purehealthyliving.com credits the neurological connection between movement and music for the added motivation in musically-involved gym sessions. The United States National Library of Medicine calls the phenomenon of auditory-motor synchronization, for example, the need to tap our feet and/or nod our heads to the beat of a song. This instinct to move allows the body to thrive and push on whilst working out. 

“When I listen to a good track, something that just hits, it makes me move,” said Von Arx. The incorporation of new music has led Von Arx to experience exciting moments of inspiration while working out. He remarks that it’s a reason he is more eager to continue to stay fit, providing a reason to pump up the jams.