AV systems are vital for group fitness instructors. Save your voice with a microphone. Keep the equipment safe with a windscreen and microphone belt pack.
Who knew that teaching group fitness would also mean you become a DJ, audio technician, and performer! Yup, in addition to creating purposeful, safe, and effective class programming that adheres to exercise science, we do a lot to connect the music with the workout experience. In fact, research shows that music has a huge impact on exercise performance – including increased stamina, reduced oxygen intake, and decreased levels of perceived exertion. Here at GXunited, we believe in the power of music, and have shared tips on having legit and legal music in your classes, shown you where to get great (and legal) music, shared 4 tips on creating great playlists, and even shared some of our favorite “non-traditional” yoga and pilates class playlists. So by now you should be rocking out your classes with amazing music.
But teaching a class and showcasing great music is about more than just throwing a list on spotify and bringing your smartphone to class, you also need to ensure participants can hear your cues over the music. This is where the microphone comes in handy!
Use a Microphone!
Over the years I’ve seen debates on if instructors should use a microphone or not. The end result always being, that using a microphone makes it easier for participants to hear you and you protect your own voice from the dreaded vocal nodules. (Yes, these are real and can destroy your career. They are hard, rough, noncancerous growths on the vocal cords that develop due to overusing your voice. They are most often seen in people who sing, yell, or talk loudly for long periods of time. Read More on HealthLine.) At the end of the day, the choice is yours, but using a microphone will ensure your longevity as a fitness professional.
Most of the time we don’t have the luxury of selecting the microphone, but it’s still important to know all the different options available as an instructor. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll open your own studio and need to find the best group fitness microphone available. So take a look at the top styles and dream over what your favorite is!
- Wireless Microphone Systems: These systems include a headset microphone, wireless transmitter (battery pack), and receiver box. The headset may attach into the transmitter pack that is worn on the instructors waist (this is what you want to protect from sweat).
- Headset Microphone System: These are headset only systems that may include the battery back on the back of the headset, or need to be charged through an AV cord. These are great as they remove the need for a waist belt pack, but they can be challenging when doing lots of supine (lying on your back) work as the battery pack is bulky.
- Aquatic Mic Systems: For pool based classes there are water proof microphones that can be worn into the pool. These are more expensive and require maintenance, but are a great tool for instructors who teach in the pool.
Instructors Sound System Accessory Essentials
Sadly sounds systems often don’t work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared and use it when available. But just like everything else, it’s more than just throwing a microphone on your head and talking! There are a few accessory tools you need to bring with you to ensure the microphone stays dry, the receiver doesn’t bounce, and the system continues to receive power. These are inexpensive tools that will protect you and give your participants an even better experience! So pull out your teaching bag, and get these 3 sound system accessories in their asap!
- Microphone Belt
- “Utility Kit”
Windscreens are one of the most valuable supplies you can have. Not only do they protect you from nasty sweat & germ filled “communal” windscreens, they also help improve how you sound to your class. If you’ve ever heard an instructor breathing, or couldn’t understand them when they said words with “T’s” in them, more than likely they weren’t using a windscreen.
Windscreens are little foam pieces that go over the part of the microphone that you speak into. The main goal is to keep air, wind, or any unwanted noises from coming into the microphone and interrupting the sound quality. Just like those huge giant balls you see on the end of a singers microphone, the group fitness microphone windscreen ensures that your participants can easily hear your cues. They capture the sound and make sure it goes straight into the microphone, allowing you to talk normally. (Yes, that means you don’t need to yell when you get excited!)
The type of windscreen depends on the type of microphone you are using, but generally you will need one of the following types. Check with your group fitness coordinator and learn what type of windscreen you need for your specific sound system. You will need to purchase these online, but they are cheap, so make the investment.
- Small Round Windscreens
- Oval Windscreens
- Airline Micro Windscreen
- Temple Pads
Oh, and yes, you could share one with your colleagues, but do you REALLY want to talk into something that the previous instructor may have coughed, sneezed, or spit all over. Protect your health, by a windscreen!)
Don’t have time to wait for your windscreens to arrive? Stop by your local drug-store, buy a pack of old foam hair rollers and cut them to cover the microphone. While your sound quality won’t be as great (there is a big hole at the end), it will work in a pinch.
2. Microphone Belt
While there are some cordless microphones available, many studios still use microphones that have a battery pack/receiver box at the end (connected to the headset by a wire). These receivers typically have a clip on the back of them, and too often you see instructors simply clip that to their clothes for the class. Sadly, this causes sweat to get into the battery and receiver and cause them to break easier. This is where a mic belt comes in handy.
Microphone belts or packs allow the receiver/battery pack to be sealed from sweat and hug closely to the body. You want to avoid the annoying “bouncing transmitter” by finding one that fits snugly to your body and you don’t have to adjust with each class. Having your own also protects you from sharing sweat and germs with other instructors.
There are lots of different styles based on how you want it to fit. Below are just some of the popular types for group ex instructors (again, searching online will be your best bet for purchasing a good belt pack).
- Vertical Open Top
- Single Snap Closure
- Horizontal Velcro Flap Closure
- Hipster Snug Open Top
- Vertical Zipper Side Closure
- Arm Band Pouch Velcro Top
- Arm Band Pouch Open Top
- Backpack Harness
You can rock your own style with a microphone belt as they come in many styles, colors, and prints. So have some fun with the mic belt and get something that matches your style (like the time I saw Carrie Underwood rocking a diamond studded microphone belt pack!)
Sadly the DIY options for this are a bit more time intensive than going to the drug store for the foam rollers, but you could design and create your own using cell phone holders or other small holders. The main goal is to NOT let the transmitter touch your skin/clothes while teaching, as this is what causes the sweat to get inside.
3. “Utility Kit”
Okay, so these kits fall a bit more into the group fitness instructor survivor packs that we’ve talked about in the past, but having one specifically geared towards your AV system will save you many headaches. Your AV utility kit should include:
- Batteries: carry an array of different types (AAA, AA, 9V) to ensure that you have whatever it is your gym uses for the microphone.
- Charger: Okay, this isn’t specific to your microphone, but it relates to your music and having a backup charger will ensure that your phone/iPod doesn’t die in the middle of class.
- Auxiliary Cord: Again, not specific to the microphone, but an extra auxiliary cord is a great thing to have as it will allow you to plug your music device into the stereo system.
- Dongle: As obnoxious as it is, these days most phones have transitioned away from the traditional microphone head jack and created their own plug. Make sure you always have your dongle on hand to connect to the stereo system. (A great tool is a keychain dongle holder that allows you to connect the dongle to your keys and always have it on hand.)
- Bluetooth speaker: In the event that everything on the AV system dies, having your bluetooth speaker in your bag will at least save you the hassle of singing during class; and some even give you the option to connect a microphone into the speaker and use that in connection with the Bluetooth music.
Make sure this kit is also where you keep your windscreens and mic belt!
Find an old lunchbox and plastic tuperware containers to place your utility kit in. Make it something unique and fun to you and make sure to take it with you to every class! (Maybe have multiple utility kits in your possession so you always have what you need if you have to jump in and teach on a pinch.)
Where to Get These?
One of the best resources for fitness sound system supplies is AVNow. Check them out and protect your health!
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BS: Exercise & Sports Science
NSCA: Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)
ACSM: Certified Exercise Physiologist (EP-C)
Yoga Alliance: 200-hr RYT
ACE: Group Fitness Instructor
Balanced Body: Reformer Level 1 Coach
Schwinn: Indoor Cycle Instructor
RRCA: Running Coach