Over the last six years, one of Crossover’s areas of specialism within the AV industry has been providing first-class audio and audiovisual systems for boutique gyms, fitness facilities and spin studios.
We’ve delivered sound, visual and lighting systems 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 AV systems pushed hard day-in day-out during intense fitness classes, often with up to 11 classes operating per day, and tweaked our designs to provide rugged long term stability as well as immersive sound, clear instructor vocals, rich visuals and energising, dynamic lighting.
The aim? To help our clients deliver best-in-class workouts and a truly unique and on-brand experience that make their customers crave to come back for more!
Top Tips: AV for Gyms, Fitness Facilities and Spin Studios
We’ve put together recommendations based on our hard-earned expertise that could help you avoid common pitfalls when you’re designing the AV for your fitness studio or gym.
If you own a fitness space and you’re thinking of investing in a professional AV setup for your studios and auxiliary areas (reception, changing rooms and waiting zones), be sure to read this article before you commit your time (and money) to the project.
Think about the acoustics of the room
Poor acoustics in any studio or gym 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 acoustics of the space and to help prevent unwanted noise for neighbouring premises.
Put some thought into where you’re going to place your 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 if you want to achieve a consistent coverage without ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ spots; but unless you’ve brought your AV company on board early, there might be clashes in the ceiling with where the air con ducting needs to go When positioning display screens in spin studios, make sure you factor in the height that front row cyclists will be reaching when they are in a standing position on the bike, and how this will affect viewing angles for the riders behind.
Install your subwoofers correctly
In addition to full-range loudspeakers, subwoofers are key to creating an immersive nightclub style music experience in your gym or studio. These can be mounted from the ceiling to save floor space. Be warned that the energy created by this bass can be a problem for your neighbours, so consider de-coupling the subwoofer from the building structure using acoustic pads, which will reduce the amount of bass energy that will pass through the walls to neighbouring properties.
Invest in quality 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 at the heart of any studio’s AV design. Make sure your wireless receivers are well-positioned, in line of sight of the instructor’s 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.
You can learn more about UK wireless microphone licenses, and how to apply for one, here, but we typically handle this process for our clients.
Purchase 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 the microphone’s capsule circuitry. Spin class instructors tend to create a much bigger problem than floor-based class instructors, as they lean forward on the bike and direct more drops of sweat onto and around the microphone.
To prolong the life of your microphone headsets you should invest in microphone headsets designed for fitness applications that incorporate additional moisture protection, and a good AV company will then use further water-proofing techniques, such as heat shrink tubing, 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 often be revived by allowing the equipment to dry out in an airtight container with silica gel packs. A crucial element is the quality of care by your instructors, and this can be improved by excellent end-user training. We take great pride in proactively training our clients’ staff, helping them adopt best practises, which in the case of microphones in gyms and fitness facilities means adhering 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, of course, to always keeping spare microphone sets handy.
Experiment with synchronized lighting effects
For the immersive nightclub style experience, you can synchronize your lighting effects with the music that’s playing. A sophisticated lighting system can create a huge range of effects for your customers, turning your studio into a pulsing graphic equaliser, or making low lights smoulder like candlelight during the cool down section of the class.
Studios like Digme utilise a wide range of lighting effects that are controlled simply from a straightforward app running on an iPad mounted on a lectern at the instructor’s location. A secure and protective housing for the iPad helps prevent sweat damage (and also helps to prevent theft).
Consider simple, user-friendly controls
Gym instructors have enough to think about when running a class, so don’t make their life difficult with audio visual technology that isn’t designed to be simple to manage. Too many classes have suffered when an instructor struggles to 'drive' the AV, lighting and other tech in the studio. The sound system should be ‘plug and play’, with the 3.5mm mini jack input and volume controls fully 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 in a really intuitive and simple way. 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.
Install 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 damaged volume control. With sweat flying around, condensation building, and both likely to cause damage to electronic circuitry, it’s wise to have back-up volume controls for your music and microphones.
Keep track of music volume levels
The current trend is for nightclub levels of music with heavy bass to energise exercise classes. However, 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 which have been outlined here on the HSE website.
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.
Use AV to help craft your unique brand identity
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. Crossover can help you with the simpler solutions (playing back looping or static content from a simple USB stick plugged into a signage screen) or a more powerful and flexible marketing tool in the form of a digital signage player (hardware unit). The latter can provide huge flexibility in managing the content displayed, allow you to incorporate social media feeds and live updates from TfL, and schedule changes of video content throughout the day.
Selling your brand innovatively throughout your gym or fitness studio with feature lighting and novel AV design features will help stamp your brand identity on the overall experience in memorable ways. At Crossover, we’re particularly passionate about using clever lighting to bring emphasis to certain areas and we inspire our clients to think creatively. We take genuine pleasure in engaging our potential clients in a collaborative design process, and we’ll suggest new site-specific ideas that benefit from us keeping our finger on the pulse of global fitness trends.