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For reasons that are unclear to me, my very nice gym in the middle of downtown (which has a little ramp outside and lets me bring my bike inside) has piped-in music only in English. I don’t mean to get huffy, I mean my English comprehension is pretty good, and I don’t mind a little toe-tapping in English, but you know? Chile? It’s in Latin America. It’s a Spanish-speaking country!

But the music over the PA system is in English. And it’s not terribly good. The other day I was subjected to Katrina and the Waves when my Ipod battery went into the red and then gave up the ghost on the elliptical. Every now and then, the Police come on. I like the Police, but they’re not very peppy and gym-like. Some of the music is truly awful, and it makes me laugh. Occasionally it makes me almost want to cry. Imagine Elton John’s Tiny Dancer, for example, or Lionel Richie’s Easy Like Sunday Morning. Not good for working out!

The only time we can occasionally get some good Latin beat going is if we subject ourself to the violently twirly class called baile entretenido (lit: entertaining dance, except it really isn’t, trust me, I tried) with Claudio, a man made of gelatina and rubberbands. Also occasionally one of the spinning instructors will put on the dreaded Juanes song “Camisa Negra,” which is an improvement over Sublime, and at least it has that repetitive wanhwanh to it which makes you want to cycle. Then there was that guy, Juan Carlos, who always played a song the only lyrics of which I could ever remember was “boca linda” (beautiful mouth), which just seemed kind of dirty to me. Plus he injured himself doing piqueros (literally, boobies, as in bluefooted boobies, but it really means dives) into the swimming pool, and never fully recovered, so we haven’t seen him in a while.

While the music is sometimes uninspired, and at times quite awful, I never tire of watching people sing along with the words, or what they imagine the words might be. Do you remember when that song “La Bamba” was popular? Do you remember the kinds of sounds you put together with your very own lips and tongue (or even your beautiful mouth) to sing along? Imagine that. Now imagine a whole room of it.

Laughing is very good for your abs. I’m just saying.