Don’t Sweat It, South Korea

Don’t Sweat It, South Korea

By Kristen Bollinger Shah


SEOUL - In the midst of a rampant COVID-19 outbreak, South Korea has issued a creative mitigation strategy. 

To decrease viral transmission from perspiration, the recent host of the Olympics has mandated that gyms limit treadmill speeds to no more than 3.7 miles per hour and music to 120 beats per minute, maximum. 

The South Korean government hopes the new measures will make people slow down and sweat less, without the upbeat tunes motivating their workouts. 

“Our benevolent country generally tolerates stinky, sweaty people,” stated the South Korean Presidential press secretary. “But now we know they spread germs like the coronavirus, as they gasp for air. We tossed around some solutions and preferred this one to mandating slower respirations, which our health ministry said was ill-advised.” 

While gym owners were initially concerned about a backlash, they’re reportedly sensing more positive vibes from patrons, apparently, because people may now achieve their goal of “going to the gym” without having to physically exert themselves. 

“I love going to the gym!” exclaimed one gym-goer, happily sipping coffee while walking. 

Another, wearing a newly minted T-shirt with the words, “PROUD, DRY PATRIOT”, declared solemnly, “I’m serving my country with a half-mile leisurely stroll.” 

Quotes like those are music to the ears of South Korean officials. 

“These slow, righteous people are doing their part to lower the spread of infections,” said the country’s health minister. 

Still, there are challenges, such as responding to strivers who thwart the new rule by doubling their pace. 

It’s been rumored that government officials are considering limiting rule-breakers music channel access to Classical Music: The Slow Movements might need to be considered. 

Directing egregious offenders (sprinters, Ironman types, etc.) to designated treadmills that play Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” on repeat would surely bring new meaning to the term, “punishing workout.” 

Additionally, some disaffected gym owners are shutting off their treadmills instead of enforcing the slower pace.
 
“That will show the government,” commented one gym owner. In a strange twist, these same gyms are keeping their bikes fully operational, leading runners to wonder if bikers will become “so obnoxious” with “their grotesque quads and all.” 

Across the country, people are pulling up chairs around treadmills so they may still watch the attached smart TVs. 

“I really didn’t want to work out anyway,” seems to be the common refrain. 

One gym is considering a movie night where members could order pizza to be delivered straight to their treadmill. 

An added bonus of this approach would be job creation, as spots for delivery workers open up. “Great for the economy!” exclaimed the cosmopolitan President Jae-in, who applauded South Koreans for “turning lemonade into fat, juicy lemons.” 

When asked if they considered reducing viral transmission by requiring improved ventilation, a spokesperson for the president replied, “No.” 

The chair of the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee is already pondering opportunities that may arise from the new policy. 

“Since treadmills offer a perfectly flat surface for standing, we’re going to suggest Endurance Standing as an official Olympic sport. Someone call the IOC.”
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