Crossover have a breadth of expertise providing first-class audiovisual systems for gyms, fitness facilities and spin studios. We’ve delivered sound, video and lighting systems in multiple sites for some of the UK’s most in-demand fitness venues such as Barry’s Bootcamp, Digme Fitness and Third Space. We’ve seen our systems pushed hard day-in day-out during intense fitness classes and tweaked our designs to provide rugged long term stability as well as immersive sound, vivid visuals and exciting lighting, all geared towards invigorating workouts and a tailor-made overall experience.
Our hard-earned expert advice could help you avoid some common pitfalls in setting up the AV in your gym or fitness space.
A studio or gym with poor acoustics will always affect the clarity of music and intelligibility of a class instructor, no matter how good your sound system technology is. Usually this problem can be improved using soft, absorbent surfaces or acoustic panels, ceilings and floors to ‘deaden’ reverberation and the sonic reflections which confuse a listener’s ear. The most dedicated fitness facilities will invest in fitting an acoustic shell to both improve the room acoustics and to help prevent unwanted noise for neighbouring premises.
Placement of studio fixtures
Careful consideration to the ergonomics of your workout space will make all the difference to the experience you create. For example, correct loudspeaker placement is essential to achieve a consistent coverage without ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ spots. When positioning display screens in spin studios factor in the height that front row cyclists will be when they are in a standing position on the bike, and how this will affect viewing angles for the riders behind.
In addition to full-range loudspeakers, subwoofers are key to creating an immersive nightclub style music experience in your gym. These can be mounted from the ceiling to save floor space. Be warned that the energy created in the bass end can be a problem for your neighbours, so consider de-coupling the subwoofer from the building structure using acoustic pads which reduce the amount of bass energy that will pass through the walls to neighbouring properties.
Wireless microphone systems
A wired microphone connection is simply not going to work for an active gym class instructor. A reliable wireless microphone system is essential. Make sure your wireless receivers are well-positioned, in line of sight of the instructor location. Installing wireless receivers buried in a back room equipment rack can lead to audio drop-outs and distortion. Be aware that some wireless frequencies will require a license from the government body Ofcom to operate. Ofcom monitor and license wireless frequencies which helps prevent unwanted interference
Moisture-resistant microphone headsets
Instructors need a microphone to be heard over the class music. However, the large amount of sweat generated when delivering fitness classes can be a huge problem and so microphone headsets (wireless and hands free) need to withstand a lot of abuse. Corrosion from sweat will easily damage microphone capsule circuitry. Spin class instructors tend to create a much bigger problem than floor-based class instructors, as they lean forward on the bike directing more drops of sweat onto and around the microphone.
Unless you want to replace
your microphone headsets regularly you should invest in microphone headsets
designed for fitness applications that incorporate additional moisture
protection, and use further water-proofing techniques such as heat shrink
around connecting sockets and sweat-proof armbands (as used by runners to hold
their phones on the side of the arm) to hold the mic transmitter. A ‘sweated
out’ mic (i.e. one which has stopped working due to sweat and moisture ingress)
can be revived by a drying out period in an airtight container with silica gel
packs. Best practise with gym and fitness facility microphones is to adhere to
a rigorous rotation policy, swapping the mic headset and transmitter on a daily
basis so that the equipment has sufficient drying out time, and to always keep
a spare set handy.
Synchronized lighting effects
For the immersive nightclub style experience synchronize your lighting effects with the music playing. A sophisticated lighting system can create a huge range of effects, turning your studio into a pulsing graphic equaliser, or making low lights smoulder like candlelight during a cool down section of the class.
Studios like Digme utilise a wide range of lighting effects, controlled simply from a straightforward app running on an iPad mounted on a lectern at the instructor location. A secure and protective housing for the iPad helps prevent sweat damage as well as preventing theft /loss.
Simple, user-friendly control
Gym instructors have enough to think about when running a class, so don’t make their life difficult with technology that isn’t designed to be simple to manage. The sound system should be ‘plug and play’, with at most the 3.5mm mini jack input and volume controls accessible to the instructor. If you have a complex lighting system then investing in a rock-solid modern control system means that a series of lighting presets can be programmed and controlled from an iPad app or tablet. As well as adding dynamism and excitement in the class, lighting can also be put to practical use, helping the instructor colour-coordinate sections of the room into team or activity-based areas.
Back-up volume controls
If you’ve spent good money on a meaty sound system you don’t want to it out of action due to a damaged volume control. With sweat flying around, the condensation that builds up in gym spaces and the damage this can cause to electronic circuitry it’s wise to have back-up volume controls for your music and microphones.
Music volume level
The current trend is for nightclub levels of music with heavy bass to energise exercise classes. You should be wary of the effect on the ears of your class members and instructors to avoid long-term damage. Levels over 100dB are not recommended for more than 15 minute periods. A relatively inexpensive sound level meter will help you stay within safe limits. Legally you need to take care of the staff working in loud environments, but for club members the government only offers guidelines on safe listening levels:
Also, plan to invest in loudspeakers and amplifiers with sufficient power so that you won’t need to push them to the limits to achieve the volume levels you want without distressing your equipment and shortening its lifespan.
Digital signage is a great way to spread your brand's messaging, whether that be advertising class timetables, letting members know about the delicious health shakes and smoothies available at the refuel bar, or displaying video content designed to cultivate brand-identity and a sense of belonging. Whilst you can playback looping or static content from a simple USB stick plugged into a signage screen, a digital signage player (hardware unit) can provide incredible flexibility in managing the content displayed, allow you to incorporate social media feeds and live updates from TfL, and automate changes of content throughout the day.
Selling your brand innovatively throughout the studio with feature lighting and novel design features will help stamp your brand identity on the overall experience in memorable ways. Use clever lighting to create emphasis and inspire.