Health Club Management April 2018

Page 74

ASK AN EXPERT

All about the beat Music is central to the group exercise experience, but what's its true impact? And how far does specifically engineered music go in terms of increasing participation, motivation, engagement and retention? Kath Hudson asks the experts

Dr Costas Karageorghis Reader in sport psychology, Brunel University London Well-selected music can enhance people’s emotional state and, when coupled with the communal feelings of a group exercise class, can facilitate adherence to exercise. Part of our innate response to music is to rhythm, and research has shown that the synchronisation of movement to music in a controlled environment with a teacher can be hugely pleasurable. However, interestingly, research shows the behaviour of the instructor can be a 74

more potent influence than music selection. The optimal music for a class will please the instructor, fall within the musical choices of exercisers and match both the nature and intensity of the activity. If you get these various elements in alignment, then you’re cooking! If you’re choosing your own music, my advice is to aim to democratise the music selection as much as possible and change the playlist every so often to keep things fresh.

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It’s worth bearing in mind that the volume of music is equally as important as the type of music. It shouldn’t be too loud, because the combination of very loud music with high-intensity exercise can damage hearing. During high-intensity exercise, blood drains away from the follicles in the cochlea (the shell-like part of the inner ear), making them more susceptible to damage. Repeated exposure to very loud music can result in tinnitus, which causes ringing in the ears.

We recommend that during the class participants should be able to maintain a conversation with their neighbour, without needing to shout. Another important rule is that when learning a new technique, music should be low, or even turned off altogether, as people generally find it difficult to process music and learn complex motor skills. Listening to background music generally uses up to 10 to 12 per cent of our attention.