Sound advice for your boutique studio
Boutique gyms chatted to Alan Cuthbert of Leisure Sound Solutions Limited to discover more about the importance of investing in an appropriate sound system.
Alan, could you tell us more about Leisure Sound Solutions?
Leisure Sound Solutions has been creating bespoke audio visual systems for fourteen years. We are one of the market leaders in the supply, installation and servicing of all leading cardio entertainment products, both wired and wireless. We design and build to suit our clients’ requirements, anything from a basic public address system to a sophisticated multi-source background/foreground system. We have vast experience in installing sound and television in large hotel chains, health clubs and leisure centres.
What changes have you seen in the fitness industry?
The changes have been phenomenal. Fourteen years ago most gym owners and managers put sound fairly low down on their list of priorities. Cheap and cheerful would suffice, and many facilities were even having to choose between air conditioning or a sound system! With the rise in boutique fitness however, quality sound is an absolute must. Boutique studios require a boutique ambiance and, to stand out from the crowd, your speaker system needs to be exceptional.
We have seen a huge rise in demand for studio sound systems for group fitness classes, predominantly group cycle classes and CrossFit, and anti-vibration technology is becoming increasingly important to reduce sound transfer to other areas of the facility or neighbours. The beat from the bass driver is vital and, inevitably, 20 of the finest static bikes in a group cycle studio require an exclusive music system. A group exercise class simply cannot take place without an AV system. Whether the facility be an LEA community sports centre or a high-end city studio, the expectation is to offer a quality experience. Getting people hooked and coming back is vital for client retention, and members soon vote with their feet when they believe they are not receiving good value for money.
Do you have any tips or advice for those branching out into boutique fitness?
Quality of sound has a huge impact on the quality of a class, and ultimately the success of a fitness facility. We understand that a gym’s largest outlay is on its equipment and flooring, but do budget carefully for audio visual equipment. A 2-studio boutique facility should be allowing between £10,000 and £50,000 for a sound system, which may sound scarily expensive, but fine rewards can be reaped. We use top brands such as Fitness Audio, JBL, QSC and Wharfdale, to name but a few, and can advise on how to install quality solutions that are cost effective.
Many gym owners are appealed by the idea of having hugely powerful speakers, but it is preferable to install more speakers, and run them at a lower level, to produce better quality sound. A 20-bike group cycle studio for example, functions more effectively with a smaller system. We would recommend carrying out thorough market research to develop a unique fitness offering, to establish what your clients want, and of course what you can afford. You will need to take music licenses from PPL and PRS into consideration, and regard your gym differently to how you would your home. Your commercial facility needs to be treated as such in order to thrive in a highly competitive industry.
Of all the audio visual technology on the market, which do you feel is the most exciting at the moment?
Virtual reality programming used in the top cycle studios is truly amazing. At Leisure Sound Solutions we are huge fans of the Fitness Audio range of equipment from Australia, particularly the Aeromic packages. All Fitness Audio products are designed and built specifically for use in fitness facilities. We are currently raving about AppAudio, a system that enables members to listen to and enjoy club TV on their Apple or Android smartphone anywhere in the facility. App Audio is perfect for social areas like boutique gyms. By simply downloading the app and selecting a chosen channel, members can be entertained, informed of events and promotions and stay connected.
The fitness industry is changing, and the move from large screen TVs in the gym to built-in screens in the cardiovascular equipment is starting to move back again, as the increase in functional and freeway spaces results in less cardiovascular equipment on the gym floor.
I consider myself very lucky to be working in such a dynamic field. With the ever-expanding range of audio visual technology, the fitness industry, and especially the boutique sector, will be offering the most inspirational training experiences.