Why Do Gyms Play Music So Loud? (Here’s What You Need to Know)

You must have noticed this yourself, you enter the gym ready for your workout and you’re greeted with really loud music blasting out of the speakers.

In fact, the music is so loud that you can’t actually hear your OWN music being played through your earphones.

Sound familiar?

So, I’d like to discuss various reasons why gyms play music so loud.

Plus, I’ll also explain why there really isn’t any need for it.

The Main Reasons That Gyms Play Music So Loud

Most gyms will play music to serve as a form of motivation. There has been much research into the fact that music can be a great motivator. Furthermore, it can feel quite eerie to enter a completely quiet gym. Plus, the louder the music, the better it will drown out the background noises associated with gyms, e.g. clanking weight plates, cardio equipment humming, patrons grunting and groaning, etc.

Music in the Gym

Music in the gym - Music can distract you from fatigue or even pain associated with the gym, music helps to stimulate the part of the brain that controls our movement, music increases endurance & can actually decrease our perception of effort, listening to songs that you like can increase the secretion of the 'feel good' hormone dopamine, music can help you to perform repetitive movements more efficiently.

Gyms Want to Motivate You to Workout

So, as you can see, gyms play music in order to motivate you for your workout.

Now, there is a great deal of truth to this, although there is another point of view, which I’ll cover in a moment.

However, music can definitely stimulate us, and usually in a good way.

Basically, there are various neurons in the brain, which can best be described as messengers that pass on information.

So, in effect, music stimulates the auditory neurons in the brain.

These in turn will “pass on information” to our motor neurons.

And this explains our urge to move whenever we hear music.

Realistically, many of us don’t really feel like working out the very second we enter the gym.

However, music, especially loud music, will set off certain stimulants in the brain, and this can make us want to move.

Furthermore, if the music we’re listening to includes songs that we like, perhaps even our favourite songs, this triggers the release of the “feel good” hormone dopamine.

I’m sure you know exactly what I mean, as listening to your favourite song will typically put a huge smile on your face, as well as making you feel good about the world.

So, there is definitely a psychological effect in play here.

Plus, the fact that the music is (supposedly) making you feel good on top of exercise, which also happens to release “feel good” hormones, you should be on a high by the time you leave the gym.

Gyms Want to Drown Out Background Noise

I know that I have personally been an absolute hypocrite when it comes to music in the gym.

There have been times when I have been in my local gym and thought that the music s just too loud.

Plus, there are times when it’s just not my kind of music, and it therefore feels like torture.

That said, I have also been to the gym, performed most of my workout, while there’s no music playing whatsoever.

In truth, I didn’t really like the fact that there wasn’t any music and I even feel that it may have affected the intensity of my workout.

Granted, my local gym doesn’t go without music that often, but it does happen.

However, another reason that gyms typically have music is to simply drown out the background noise.

In the vast majority of gyms you’ll hear incessant chatter.

Then again, there’s the obvious grunts and groans from various patrons.

Plus, let’s not forget the whirring and humming of cardio machines and the clanking of weight plates and machines.

Realistically, if there was no music playing, the gym would either seem like a very eerie place, or you’d have to put up with these other constant noises.

I guess when it comes down to it you’d rather listen to music than hear all the other “environmental” noises associated with the gym.

Best Workout Music Mix

The Downside to Loud Music in the Gym

The main downside to loud music in the gym is that in the modern day and age it probably isn’t needed as much.

What I mean by this is that the vast majority of gym-goers listen to their own music nowadays.

In fact, you’d be hard-pushed not to see someone without a set of headphones or earphones.

In fact, I have recently discussed the growing trend of people wearing over-ear heaphones in the gym.

And unfortunately the music can be so loud that you can’t actually hear your own personal music via your device of choice.

I actually think this can be made worse by classes in the gym.

This is something else that I find extremely annoying about the gym.

Now, you’d think I’d have no right to be annoyed, as I’m generally in the weights’ area, and the spin or zumba class is taking place in the studio.

However, what I have often found is that the doors to the studio are wedged open.

This is because the studio can get extremely hot, as there are various people exercising away and sweating profusely.

And to make matters worse, the music is exceptionally loud, which in turn means that the instructor is screaming at the top of their lungs.

Trust me, it’s very annoying and off-putting.

It’s Dangerous Too

Okay, I’ll admit that I can find loud levels of music annoying, but there is also a dangerous side to all of this too.

It is recommended that music volume levels should be kept to around 60-85 decibels.

However, in truth, many of the studio classes, especially spin, will have their music at much higher levels.

A study conducted by the Noise & Health International Journal in 2021 of 18 separate spin classes found music to be at dangerously high levels.

In fact, on some occasions it was found that the volume levels were above 100 decibels.

Realistically, if you’re listening to music at sound levels of 100 decibels or above you should restrict your listening to no more than 15 minutes.

And I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that most spin classes, and studio classes in general, always last longer than 15 minutes.

Furthermore, I’ve spoken of the dopamine effects from listening to music, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case.

In fact, going back to me feeling annoyed at the sound levels, this could actually increase stress levels, and the release of the stress hormone cortisol.

So, in effect, the loud music may not only be damaging your hearing, but it could also be significantly increasing your stress levels.

All-in-all, this is not what you’d expect from a workout in your local gym.

In fact, going back to the study I’ve mentioned above, it was found that motivation didn’t decline by lowering the music to acceptable (decibel-wise) levels.

Plus, many gym-goers who were part of this study actually asked for the music to be turned down.

So, while gyms may have a point when it comes to music and motivation, it certainly doesn’t need to be as loud as what we’re used to.

Plus, even at the lowest levels possible, it is often the beat rather than the music that serves as a motivational factor.

Final Thoughts

So, the main reason that gyms play music so loud is for motivation and to drown out background noise.

However, in truth, it doesn’t actually need to be anywhere as loud as you’ll generally find.

This can actually be extremely annoying, and perhaps even more so if you’re listening to your own music via headphones.

The simple fact that you can’t hear your own music goes against the motivational grain.

In fact, extremely loud music may even be annoying for some patrons, which in turn can increase stress levels.

Furthermore, the volume levels of music played in many gym classes, such as spin, can actually be dangerous for your hearing.

So, to all gyms, it’s probably time to rethink how loud you’re playing music.

Sticking with the subject of potential annoying things in the gym, I have recently discussed whether you should be dropping weights in the gym.

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