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Sparing the body and punishing the mind

Among the more pressing questions facing humankind is how to sever the inexorable link between working out and putrid commercial dance music.

And spare me that bunk about the up-tempo beats in soul-deadening top-40 dance songs providing a rhythm for running and lifting weights. You don't need music to jog around a block or work an elliptical machine. All that should be required is motivation due to fear of an early grave from heart disease or stroke.

In fact, I believe the awful songs that assault your senses upon entering a gym might deter some from seeking a better quality of life through working out.

I can imagine a scenario in which a 240-pound Central Point hausfrau works up the gumption to leave her tract house and journey to the local gym in an attempt to see her grandchildren graduate the eighth grade.

With her towel, new running shoes and 42DD athletic support bra in tow, she nudges her way through the front door and heads for a stationary bike. After the initial shock of an accelerated heartbeat wears off, she will begin to focus on the pounding music drowning out the grunts and sweating surrounding her.

After hearing two minutes of Ke$ha's "We R Who We R," the woman decides there's nothing in the world worth living for if this is what the kids —who are the future, after all — are listening to nowadays. She dismounts the stationary bike, leaves her towel behind and sheds the sports bra in the parking lot before heading home to catch the end of "Real Housewives of Atlanta" with a microwave burrito.

And you know what? I can't blame her a bit.

I recently considered adding weight training to my exercise routine. I am a fairly dedicated runner, but I want to be Ripped He-Man going into 2012.

Thusly, I visited a Medford gym before work a week ago to pay the required fees when I noticed the headache-inducing tunes blasting out of the weight room.

I was ready to hand over my cash but though better of it and left. I am no fan of gyms to begin with — too many people in too small and sweaty of a place — and I can't justify paying good dough to listen to Ke$ha three or four times per week.

There is the iPod option, which would allow me to listen to my choice of music while working out, but I find those new ear buds intolerable for any length of time.

I prefer music drifting into the open and finding my ears rather than having it pumped directly into my skull canals.

The folks at www.runhundred.com last week released their annual "Best Workout Music" of the year list. The 2010 cuts include commercial hip-hoppers Flo Rida and the ubiquitous Lady Gaga (whom I don't entirely hate, by the way).

I ran through the songs before writing this. Made it through the first 18 seconds of each one — except Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" remix — before throwing in the towel.

The Run Hundred article is among the more unintentionally hilarious examples of terrible Internet writing I've happened across in some time. Each song comes with a little workout review.

Did you know that Flo Rida's "Club Can't Handle Me" is the perfect workout starter that is "best for a treadmill warm-up. Less than five minutes, it's a great way to get amped up."

Really? That's interesting, because less than 60 seconds into the song I was ready to break down in tears and dunk my head into the swimming pool. For 15 minutes.

My music collection has hundreds of beat-driven songs that could be compiled into the perfect workout soundtrack. I'd surely include Talking Heads' "Girlfriend is Better" and Pet Shop Boys' "It's a Sin," just to name a couple.

"It's a Sin" might be the ultimate workout song. Its opening lyrics: "When I look back upon my life/It's always with a sense of shame/I've always been the one to blame."

Is there any better way to describe the situation facing those who choose to gnaw down the Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese during their lunch hour rather than packing the turkey sandwich with avocado?

Why reward your body while punishing your mind? Aren't these things somehow linked, or is that all New Agey blarg? I suspect not.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.