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The Health Club Scene

The Health Club Scene -- Which dance-pop songs do the fitness experts prefer to use in their classes?

Without dance-pop, fitness classes would be impossible. Why, the music of people like Jody Watley — who put out her own exercise video, Dance to Fitness, a year ago — has inspired thousands, maybe even millions to go for the burn. What do fitness experts prefer? Almost any song with a strong beat will work, whether it’s a top hit like Marky Mark’s ”Good Vibrations” or something more obscure, like ”Make Me Look in the Mirror” by Tiffany Jones. Current favorites in Los Angeles and New York health clubs include Prince’s ”Cream” and Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam’s ”Let the Beat Hit ‘Em.” Hammer’s ”Too Legit to Quit” is a high-octane motivator at a gym called L.A. Women: ”Hammer’s a very upbeat person, very positive in his music, and that carries over to the class,” says Joseph Wenson, an L.A. Women step trainer. Back when the fitness boom was just starting, disco was the perfect accompaniment, paced at 120 to 128 beats per minute — bpm to fitness insiders. But now, with strenuous ”high impact” ! aerobics, the pace has accelerated to 140, 156, even 164 bpm. While instructors still favor top 10 singles, they’re facing a new dilemma as DJs for breakneck workouts. Speeding up the playback of hits to get the properly furious tempo also means distorting someone’s favorite tune. As a consequence, says Kacy Duke, aerobics director at New York’s Equinox Fitness Club, ”You can’t really use music that’s too familiar to the class.”