Loud music in spinning classes linked to hearing damage concerns

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The spin craze is sweeping the nation. Part of the reason?  Those high intensity workouts are fueled by a nightclub like atmosphere.

“For me, the louder the better,” instructor Mark Forks of SoulCycle in Roslyn said.  "Here at this studio, I turned it all the way up because it's not as loud as it should be, like at our Woodbury studio.  That one is way too loud!”

Forkos is just one of the instructors at SoulCycle, a chain of spin studios that boasts 6,000 daily riders, and makes $112 million a year, charging roughly $30 a class.

Sarah Pachtman, a SoulCycler from Great Neck, said she goes to class every single day because of the community, the darkness, and the music.

The music is loud— and it's the driving force of most spin classes, it fuels a sweat drenched workout.  But is that motivator making us deaf?

"It was like a small firecracker had gone off in my ear. I was in a lot of pain,” said spin instructor Bridget Buckstine of the class she attended that damaged her ear drum.

Buckstine has taught spin classes at a variety of studios for 11 years, but it was another teacher’s class that nearly ended her career.

"I thought I broke my eardrum.  There was a combo of bass booming in the class, really high volume of music, and her voice was screaming over the top of it,” Buckstine said it took a year for her hearing to recover and allow her back into a spin room.

Audiologist Nicole Addeo, says she's seeing a steady flow of ever younger patients losing their hearing.

“I’m seeing lots of young people in twenties, thirties.  I'm seeing noise induced hearing loss, high frequency hearing loss. Loss in people way too young to be exhibiting any hearing loss.”

PIX11 used undercover cameras and a decibel meter, to see just how loud classes at some of the most popular spin studios, are, attending four classes at SoulCycle, and FlyWheel, two chains with many locations in the New York area and beyond.

All four studios played at a near constant 100 decibels or more. Throughout the class, all studios spiked to levels of 115 decibels, blowing the known safety levels from industry fitness groups and OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which applies to workers.

The group states audio should "never be above 90 decibels” but the studios seemed to be unaware of any guidelines.

PIX11 asked an employee manning the front desk at FlyWheel  if they had any idea what level the music is played at or the standard at FlyWheel?  She answered, "I’m not sure, that’s all controlled out of the city.”

FlyWheel chose not to comment on our story.

PIX11 also questioned Forkos at the Roslyn SoulCycle about hearing safety and he said that it is a corporate "thing.”

SoulCycle declined an interview request, but said in a statement, “We are familiar with OSHA guidelines and provide complimentary hearing protection for all our riders at every studio.”

SoulCycle declined declined to comment but said, “We are familiar with OSHA guidelines and provide complimentary hearing protection for all our riders at every studio.”

Dr. Leslie Stengert, a health professor of Indiana University in Pittsburgh, and part of the American College of Sports Medicine, says in our quest to perfect our bodies, we're ruining our hearing.

“When we see it at 99 or above fore more than an hour on a regular basis, there’s a very high risk of hearing loss.  Once it’s gone, you’re not getting it back,” Stengert said.

It’s estimated 20 percent of Americans already have hearing loss, and that 25 million have tinitis.

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