Who doesn’t like a nice beat during his or her workout?! Music can get you fired up, ready to give that extra push during exercise. Music can also help you cool down by getting relaxed and recovered again. Unfortunately too loud music during your workout can also cause irreparable hearing loss. According to the World Health Organization, around 466 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss. This number is estimated to double by the year of 2050. More than 1 billion (!) young people are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to noise in recreational settings like in a fitness gym.
Menshealth recently wrote an article about a research paper done by National Acoustic Laboratories. They found a gap between supply and demand. Fitness instructors prefer higher volumes to motivate club members, while 20-30% of the members say they experience those high volumes as stressful. Spinning classes are the overall “winner” with decibels as loud as 99 decibel.
For your and my understanding, according to the Dutch hearing foundation: 80 decibel is safe for about 8 hours a day. Every time you add 3 decibel you double the noise, and therefore halve the safe time of exposure. So 83 decibel is safe for 4 hours, 86 decibel is safe for 2 hours and 99 decibel is… causing damage after about 5 minutes.
It’s quite obvious that fitness owners can’t dismiss these striking facts. Ironically, in some soul cycle spinning studios, they already give you the opportunity to wear earplugs to dampen the noise. Sounds like a good idea. Now if you think decreasing the volume will decrease your fitness performance, you are wrong. In a study about the effect of music on a 10-km cycle time-trial performance they concluded: “there is no meaningful effect of music on either performance or physiology”.
I know what you’re thinking. You love music like we all do. That is exactly what fitness entrepreneur Hanneke van Ballegooij thought as well. She created a new fitness concept: RAW Connect. During RAW Connect classes, members wear headphones in which they can increase or decrease the music volume to their personal preference. As a fitness entrepreneur I tried using headphones in our clubs as well. Surprisingly the feedback was that members had more focus and valued the trainer instructions more. On a business perspective, it also creates better space use, because you can combine different classes with different music styles in the same room. Not even mentioning the end of noise nuisance for your neighbors.
Conclusion. When you invest time and energy on your personal fitness and health, make sure that overall health is indeed the outcome. Silent fitness can avoid hearing loss, improve exercise experience and create entrepreneurial opportunities. That’s why new fitness concepts jump into this upcoming trend.
Founder of Molab, Human Movement Scientist and Freelance Content Marketer.