sound meter for spinning classes

Click to download this App - I'm sure a search on your Droid phone will find something similar.

ICI/PRO member Kristin Krantzman makes an excellent point here in her comment, to my earlier post about sound levels.

I have one student that really complains about the loudness of the music. She has tried wearing special noise protectors.
She tells me that I am damaging my own hearing as well as that of my students if I do not reduce the volume.
BUT, when she is in my class and I reduce the volume to the level she wants, the rest of the class can barely hear the music. Students start cross-talking in class and they lose interest. What can I do? I agree that increasing the volume so high that the walls are shaking is not healthy. But, when the members cannot hear the music and they start talking to each other in class, that is not good either. Anyone have ideas about how to handle this sensitive problem???

Kristin you're making a great point about "subjective" vs. "objective" measurements. We all have different levels of hearing. I want to call it a "sensitivity" to sound that may have reader's nodding in agreement, if they've ever had an argument with their spouse about the sound level coming from the TV.

You and your student are having the time honored, back-and-forth of; "it's too loud"... "no it's not"... "yes it is"... "I like it this loud"... "it will damage your hearing"... "no it won't"... which goes on without resolution because there's no "objective" sound level you can point to as an authority.  I know from 24 years of marriage that a subjective argument like this will never end in "Win - Win". Amy get's mad and leaves the room or I begrudgingly turn down the volume. Either way only one of us "wins" and, more often than not, neither of us feels good about the outcome.

The same is true for you and your noise sensitive student. If you had a sound meter in your studio (or living room) you could point to it and say something like; "our sound levels don't exceed 85 dB, which is the maximum level recommended by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Can you see how having this "objective" measurement could change everything [wlm_firstname]? Instead of your student arguing with you, her complaint is totally with some third party authority. She may still believe that the music is too loud, but her issue isn't with you or your club. You're following the recommendations of a highly authoritative government body.

She maybe frustrated by all of this, but none of it will be directed at you. Smile and say; "I'd really like it if you stayed for my class, but I will completely understand if you don't." And then it's critical that you make a very direct disengagement from him or her. Physically turn your body, break eye contact or say hello to another student. If you give her the chance, she'll re-load and come at you with another complaint or a different spin on her original complaint.

Handled correctly, my guess is that she'll stay for your class because...

People frequently use non-specific complaints to advance their own self interests!

It's said, but true. Every day people are trying to manipulate you into doing... what they want you to do! 

Kristin's comment included this:

She tells me that I am damaging my own hearing as well as that of my students if I do not reduce the volume.

Please tell me if I'm wrong here - This student's expressions of concern, for Kristin and the other students, maybe completely well-intentioned. But I've been around far too long not to think that at some level she's simply taking advantage of Kristin's concerns for the wellness of everyone in her class, with the intent to manipulate Kristin into doing what she wants.   

If you've had sales or customer service training, you'll recognize customer comments such as "your music is too loud" as a classic objection or complaint without specificity. Sales people learn that when presented with a non-specific objection; "your price is too high" the only effective response is to make the objection specific; "compared to what?"

The same is true in a customer service situation; "your music is too loud" needs to be qualified and made specific "our classes don't exceed the recommended safe maximum of 85 dB" effectively neutralizing the complaint. "Next?" you say, as you smile and greet the next person in line.

Like it or not, as the Instructor you are also a front line Customer Service person for your club or studio. Be aware that complaints from students aren't always what they appear. Bringing clarity to a complaint, by identifying specifics, can go a long way toward peace and harmony in your class and a lot less frustration for you, the Instructor.

P.S - I've downloaded the free sound meter App for my iPhone shown in the screen shot above. I played around with it last night and plan to use it to establish an agreed sound level for the TV in our home. So the next time I hear; "it's too loud!" I can check and see who's right 🙂

P.S.S. You may want to forward this to your owner or Dept Head, so you're both on the same page if/when this student tries to escalate her complaint to management.

Originally posted 2012-08-30 07:53:36.


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