In April 1996, IDEA released its first Opinion Statement on music volume in fitness settings. We decided to update that statement this year, providing additional information on noise and hearing loss to give you a better understanding of this issue.

Unfortunately, music volume is still a concern in our industry today and not much has changed over the years to improve the situation. As you will read in the revised Opinion Statement that follows, research has shown that loud music—combined with the accompanying voice level of an instructor—has the potential to cause permanent hearing loss to both the class participants and the instructor. It is ironic that people attend group fitness classes to improve their health, yet in the process they could be damaging their hearing without even realizing it.

Instructors have numerous reasons for cranking up the music volume. Some instructors may not be able to recognize when the volume is too high, having become partially deaf from repeated exposure to loud music. Others don’t hear the music at the same volume as their participants, because instructors typically stand behind the speakers, which serve as a partial sound barrier.

Regardless of why instructors continue to play loud music, it is important to recognize that employers are responsible for enforcing the noise standards established by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If a fitness facility manager allows his or her staff to violate these standards, and an instructor claims to have suffered hearing loss from loud music, the facility will be liable. Fitness facilities that have workers’ compensation insurance may be at risk for workers’ compensation claims. In fact, lawsuits of this nature have already been filed by individuals exposed to loud music volume at concerts and nightclubs.

We hope you will read the following revised Opinion Statement carefully and utilize the music volume recommendations in your fitness facility. Health facilities and instructors have both a moral and a legal obligation to ensure safe music intensity levels during group fitness classes and other functions. ‰idea fitness edge/September 2001