What Music is Best for Gyms and Health Clubs?

If you are a gym owner or manager, you are probably aware that the type of music you play over the gym’s loudspeakers sets the tone and mood of the gym.

Of course, it can be difficult to decide what kind of music to play in order to satisfy everybody’s tastes and needs.

In this article, we will go over some of the effects that music has upon the quality and intensity of a person’s exercise routine, showing that there is good reason for a gym to play music rather than leave the gym members to work out in silence.

Then, we will go into the best type of music to play in different types of gyms and different areas of the gym.

Finally, we end with guidelines for how to legally play music over your gym speakers and where you can find royalty-free music, so you can find the perfect playlist for your members.

The Effects of Music on Exercise Routine

Boosts Athletic Performance

Multiple studies have found that listening to music can boost people’s athletic performance, either by increasing the distance they run, the pace at which they travel, or how many reps a they can complete.

A study by the University of Toronto examined 34 cardiac rehabilitation patients following set exercise regimes. Researchers split them into three groups: one without music, one with personalized playlists, and one with playlists curated specifically to enhance tempo-pace synchronization with rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS). While the group listening to the RAS music didn’t feel as if they were exerting much energy, the endurance, intensity, and duration of their workouts all increased compared to those in the other two groups.

Another study found that those who listened to music while on the treadmill increased their pace and distance traveled without feeling tired.

Reduces Fatigue

Listening to music while exercising can reduce physical feelings of fatigue. A 2010 study found that music can not only increase people’s work capacity, but it can also delay feelings of fatigue. Additionally, it is an excellent distractor, keeping people’s minds off of the fatigue and pain that they are feeling.

Synchronizing with the Beat

The human body has a natural way of synchronizing with the beat of a song. The more fast-paced and energetic a song is, the more likely a person’s pace will be quick. Music stimulates the part of the brain that controls movement, so it helps the body complete repetitive movements more efficiently.

This synchronization increases the heart rate, metabolism, and energy efficiency, while also reducing blood pressure and physical and mental stress. Also, when the body is synchronized with a beat, it will less likely to feel fatigued.

Different studies have shown that specific tempos lead to maximum performance in certain exercises. For instance, a 2011 study found that to achieve the best performance while cycling (determined by measuring intensity through heart rate), the ideal tempo is between 125 and 140 bpm. A similar study in 2014 looked for the best bpm while on the treadmill, and they discovered that music between 123 and 131 bpm led to the best performance.

Experts agree that the ideal tempo to achieve maximum results is 120 to 140 bpm. However, for activities that are slower and more relaxed (such as yoga), music that is more low-tempo will work best.

Improves Mood

One of the best benefits of music (not just while exercising) is that it improves people’s moods. Listening to music releases the body’s feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, oxytocin, and more). It also reduces cortisol levels (the body’s stress hormone). As these levels decrease, stress decreases as well.

Since exercising also enhances people’s moods by releasing the same feel-good hormones that listening to music does, working out while listening to music is an excellent way to improve moods. As a gym owner or manager, this is certainly a result that you should seek. The better people feel at your gym, the more people will become long term members and spread the word about your establishment.

Reduces Pain

Much like fatigue, music also helps people overcome pain. It acts as a distractor, which not only distracts people from fatigue but also distracts people from pain. Not only that, but it helps people find pain relief.

As previously mentioned, listening to music releases the body’s natural mood-enhancing hormones and opioids. These hormones not only improve moods, but they can also provide people with pain relief.

These hormones raise pain tolerance, allowing people to endure more throughout their workout. Synchronizing with the beat increases the opioid signals, which increases its pain-relieving qualities.

As should be clear, there is a good reason music has become a necessary part of working out. It helps motivate people to work harder while offering countless benefits. This is why it is so important to pick the right music for your gym.

Next, we go into the best type of music for different areas of the gym.

The Best Music for The Weightlifting Area

The weightlifting area is where you want to play the type of music that is going to help people make gains, meet and possibly exceed their reps, and feel inspired.

The best music for the weightlifting area is going to have a heavy beat and a medium to fast tempo. You don’t want to play music that has too fast of a tempo, as this may lead people to overexert themselves and raise the risk of injury. Moreover, the tempo of reps is usually not on the higher side, so music that is fast but not too fast will allow for members to sync their reps with the songs they are listening to.

In a weightlifter centric gym, the best music will be hard rock or heavy metal. Even some hard rap can certainly find its place in such an establishment.

At a more generalized gym, alternative rock, classic rock, and pop from various decades can all get the job done well.

One thing that you will want to be careful of is to not play the music too loud. It should be loud enough for people to hear and vibe to without it being so loud that people cannot listen to their own music through their headphones if they choose to. Making sure not to play music too loud is a requirement that applies to all areas of the gym.

The Best Music for the Cardio Area

In the cardio area, you will want to take advantage of music’s ability to increase endurance and help people get in the zone. Since high tempo music helps to achieve these goals better than low tempo music, you will want to keep the tempo up. Your members will appreciate it.

Some of the best music for the cardio area that fits the requirements we’ve stated above is high tempo electronic dance music. Electronic dance music makes it easy to get into a highly focused and productive rhythm. Just as many people only choose electronic music to study, many runners and cardio fanatics praise electronic music as the best way to get in the zone. This isn’t surprising. Electronic dance music is meant to get people moving to a rhythm, hence the word “dance” in its name. What works for dancing also works for running.

Another great option is to up your music game by adding a visual element: music videos. While people run or cycle, they can be completely entertained by the hottest hit and video.

The Best Music for Locker Rooms

Unlike sports locker rooms, where there is a bunch of yelling, speechifying, and loud music to get everyone pumped up for a match, the locker room of the modern gym is comparatively quite calm. In fact, locker rooms should help give people a feeling of privacy even though it is a shared space. That’s why playing cam classics music, such as piano sonatas by Bach, at a very low volume can bring about just the right atmosphere of calm and privacy.

The Best Music for The Reception Desk

An often overlooked space is the reception desk, but your choice of music here, while not necessarily affecting the workout performance of members, can help set the tone for the workout to come.

At the reception desk, you should play medium tempo, light-hearted, happy music that many of your guests will be familiar with. Playing familiar music at the reception desk will make members feel like they are entering a space of comfort. Even if their goal is to push their body beyond a sense of comfort during their exercise, this comforting sensation when they enter the gym can go a long way in setting the tone for the gym.

The Best Music for the Spa and Sauna

Many gyms and health clubs these days offer many more services than simply the space and the equipment to workout. Often, a gym or a health club will have a spa, or at least some facilities like a sauna.

In places like this, you will want to take the opposite approach to music than in the workout areas. In the spa or sauna, you will want to play downtempo, ambient music. Typically this music will be purely instrument since lyrics could be distracting and detract from the relaxing experience.

In this article, we have talked a lot about the effects of music on exercising, but we haven’t talked about how calm, low tempo music can also have significant physiological effects.

Calm music has been shown to reduce stress and lower blood pressure, as well as help relieve tension. These are the types of effects you will want to promote through your choice of music in spa areas.

Some Things to Consider

When you are a gym owner or manager, you surely want to focus on making the best playlist possible for your gym. To this end, music streaming apps are popular due to their ease of use and the shareability of playlists.

However, gym owners must take into consideration the costs, rules, and regulations in regards to playing music at their gym. For example, in some cases, playing music out loud during fitness classes can be considered music piracy.

Laws and Licensing

You want to protect your business by making sure that neither yourself nor your staff is infringing on any copyright or federal laws. If you are a for-profit gym or studio, you may be required to pay a licensing fee to play music during workout classes. Otherwise, you could be hit with a fine.

In the U.S. music licensing is managed by a handful of Performing Rights Organizations (PROs). These organizations include ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) and SESAC (Society of European Stage Authors and Composers).

We suggest researching these organizations and their guidelines fully before playing music at your gym. It’s also important to note that the rules and regulations set by PRO organizations differ based on your location.

Rules and Regulations For Fitness Centers

Make sure to do your homework before signing up for a music streaming app or subscription for your gym. Many music apps state under their Terms and Conditions that their music is for personal entertainment only and not for commercial use.

This means music from their app can’t be broadcasted or played publicly from a business such as gyms, studios, boxes, etc. Likewise, some business accounts might sound like they will offer your gym protection, but will list fitness centers as not covered in the fine print.

Companies like Loop TV solve that problem by providing fully-licensed music and non-music content for gyms and other businesses to play on their screens. Loop TV's more than 200 channels of content includes a wide range of musical genres and themed playlists, which can be programmed throughout the day or to play different content on different screens across your gym. A suite of digital signage tools is also included.

Time to DJ

As this article has shown, music is an extremely important part of the workout experience. Choosing the right type of music for your gym is a serious undertaking, but it can also be a lot of fun and does not need to be too hard. It’s important to realize that different parts of a gym call for different vibes set by the music. By fitting the music to the space, the member experience can be greatly improved.