The booming bass is throbbing and the music propels you forward as you cycle according to the rhythm and beat, pushing yourself hard against that final hill. However, after the class, the music that helped you to work harder in your spin session can also leave your ears ringing with the same beat. With the advancement in science about the different ways in which music helps us to motivate us and fuel our workouts sessions has also become increasingly important for both fitness instructors as well as class-goers. But the question is can top-volume tunes actually be detrimental to our hearing power?
According to Nitin Bhatia, MD, of ENT and Allergy Associates in White Plains, NY if the sound level makes us feels uncomfortably loud, then it is probably damaging our ears. “One of the early signs of damage to the ear from the loud noise exposure is ringing or buzzing in the ears, also known as tinnitus,” he says. “Tinnitus can be temporary as well as at times permanent. That is why it’s important to protect our ears from loud noise exposure.”
Booming bass may be bad for your ears, but it’s good for business, says Teri Bothwell, group fitness director of Sport & Health.
But, if music raises up your energy level during a workout session and you look forward to the playlists your instructor DJs for class, then turning down the volume can be a drag. And as a matter of fact, research shows it is not all bad for your ears. According to a recent research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports cyclists not only work harder with the faster music, but they also tend to enjoy the music more when it is played at a faster tempo.
It is not just in the spin class, either. Dance studios such as 305 Fitness and running gyms such Mile High Run Club also rely on tunes to pump up their class-goers. “In my eyes, music is the rhythm and the heartbeat behind every workout I put together. Nothing can be as motivating as going full throttle to your favorite tune pumping through your veins,” told Amber Rees, Master Trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp. However, Rees also says that some of her clients do not love the loud music.
“One of my secrets to amping up a group class without blowing their eardrums is to fluctuate my sound volumes throughout the session.I turn it down when I need the attention of the class or I’m explaining a move or sequence, and I really crank up the music for those final 30-second sprints when I can tell they need nothing but those beats to motivate them to finish strong,” she said.
Steph Dietz is an instructor at the spin studio Cyc in NYC, who says that music also helps riders to mentally escape. “Riders usually find themselves full of different emotions during a workout session, and the music selection is a key component to that. Pairing the lyrics of songs with inspiration from our instructors elicits great emotional responses.”
In order to keep the high-energy music from becoming too high-volume, Cyc studios also set their sound systems to certain levels that have been deemed safe to ride in. It’s also true that not all studios monitor their noise levels, and, so it’s important to be your own auditory advocate.
If you are one of those who loves working in the loud workout classes, then you definitely don’t have to give them up. One of the best options for avoiding a noisy environment is to use your earplugs, says Bhatia. “Earplugs will dampen the noise—you will still be able to hear, but it will protect your ears from noise damage.” Studios such as Flywheel also offer earplugs to their riders; if a studio does not make them available, you should keep a pair in your gym bag,” Bhatia explained.
Bhatia recommends that you find where the speakers are kept and try to position yourself as far away as possible in the room in order to decrease the intensity of sound exposure to your ears. In this way, you will get all the benefits of the motivating music with none of the harm to your ears.