By Jennifer Lintz, Registered Dietitian and ICI/PRO Member SoigneurSoundEar-Fitness-Studio-Sound-Noise-Meter-234x300

There is no question that in the group fitness studio - whether it be cycle, strength, yoga or some other modality - music matters. The right song placed at the perfect spot in a class can heighten the overall experience for participants.

Unless that song is too loud.

Or not loud enough.

That brings me to my question.

How do you as an instructor determine a volume that is "just right?"

From the time I began teaching in 2008, I can recall several ways music volume was addressed by management.

  • In a couple of facilities, I remember being asked to use my "best judgement."
  • In other places, there was a "do not cross line" next to the volume knob.
  • And, in one location, music was never really mentioned ... at all.

It was not until I started my current teaching position that I was exposed to a more objective method for monitoring music volume:

drum roll ... 

the SoundEar (pictured).

As you can see, there are three rings of color on the SoundEar. The outside edge of the ear is green and - when lit - indicates music volume is in a safe range. The middle ring lights up in yellow when volume starts to approach the maximum, and a red dot in the center becomes bright when volumes have exceeded the limit. In our situation, the SoundEar is set to recognize maximum volume as 85 decibels. This limit was set to promote both the safety of instructors and members.  And, yes, I do feel that 85 decibels is loud enough and conducive to exercising in the "zone."

In our facility, the Sound Ear is located on the back wall of each studio so that the instructor can easily see it while teaching. While I can't speak for other instructors, I really appreciate the tool. The SoundEar helps me keep my music within ranges that I know are safe for anyone in the room. Disclaimer: Ear plugs are always available in the studio for participants who prefer a little lower decibel level, but I don't see them being used very often. 

The SoundEar has truly cleared up the gray area for me and quickly lets me know when my music is too loud AND when I have wiggle room to crank things up, if I feel the urge.

I rarely hear comments from participants about music volume, and a member has yet to say anything to me about the device mounted on the wall. In fact, I have a hunch a majority of folks don't even know it is there. Quality assurance measures are in place, too. Our supervisors regularly drop in on classes throughout the year to make sure we are abiding by volume policies and respecting members' safety.

I know it is impossible to please everyone with regard to sound levels, but I appreciate the SoundEar and have noticed that comments about music volume have been few and far between over the past year.

What are your thoughts on monitoring music volume? Do any of you use a similar device? Would you find it helpful to use/have something similar?

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