Wireless Microphone Systems for Fitness: Types and Tips
Anybody who has directed or participated in a group fitness class knows just how important it is to be able to clearly hear the instructor’s directions. Group instructors are in charge of their class and have spent time developing the workout. Without their instruction and motivation, the class loses its structure and momentum. If you’ve ever been in a group ex class where the music is pumping, people around you are exercising intensely, you’re in the zone- and the instructor’s microphone suddenly stops working! You understand how frustrating the interruption can be.
Having a high-quality fitness-rated headset microphone is essential for most group fitness instructors to communicate effectively and offer a great class experience. Here’s some information to help you choose the right fitness-rated headset microphone for your application.
Wireless Headset Microphone Systems
Headset mics are far and away the choice for fitness instruction. They allow freedom of movement compared to a handheld microphone and offer greater voice projection with less feedback than lapel mics. Headset mics come with two different kinds of transmitters:
Bodypack transmitters. As the name implies, the transmitter is in a bodypack that’s typically carried in a sports pouch/mic belt worn around the instructor’s waist. A fitness-rated headset mic and bodypack transmitter can often be the most sweat-resistant wireless microphone configuration for fitness as the transmitter is generally protected from sweat in the mic belt. A mic belt also keeps the bodypack transmitter from falling off and hitting the floor. Because the headset mic and the bodypack are two separate components, each item may be individually repaired or replaced.
- Fitness-Rated Headset Mic Upgrade. An advantage to using a bodypack system is that you can usually upgrade the headset microphone to one that’s fitness-rated to handle more classes per week. Most headset mics that come as part of a wireless system are typically light-use headsets recommended for one to two classes a day, 7 to 10 classes a week.
E-mic medium use headset mics are fitness-rated for up to 20 classes per week. Aeromic heavy use headsets are fitness-rated for up to 49 classes per week. Both of these premium replacement headset mics are available with connectors for all major wireless brands. AV Now also offers wireless systems from major wireless brands with an E-mic or Aeromic upgrade built into the bundle. All Fitness Audio wireless systems come with an E-mic as the standard headset and an option to upgrade to Aeromic.
*We’ll talk specifically about fitness-rated headset mics in an upcoming blog post. They are a topic worthy of one all by themselves.
Wear and tear on the headset/bodypack wireless mic systems typically happens at the connectors – where the headset mic plugs into the body pack. You can prolong the life of connectors on a bodypack system by regularly cleaning them with DeoxIT cleaner and dabbing Egloop electronic protectant into the pin holes.
The microphone element will degrade over time due moisture from the instructor’s mouth clogging from things such as lipstick. You can prolong the life of any headset mic’s element by always using a windscreen.
DeoxIT, Egloop, sports pouch mic belts and windscreens for all popular headset microphones are available at: Microphone Accessories
Transmitter-On-the-Headset: This style of wireless mic has the transmitter mounted directly on the headset. These systems first appeared about 15 years ago and were an immediate hit with many instructors due to their ‘cableless’ design.
There is no cable connecting the headset mic to a body pack transmitter- allowing greater freedom of movement and removing wear and tear issues on body pack connectors and headset cable.
The main drawback to the original cableless headset mic systems was sweat-resistance. By design, the transmitter is now located in one of the sweatiest areas of a group ex instructor’s body: on the head, in often sweaty hair. As a result, the original headset-transmitters typically needed repair or replacement more frequently compared to headset/bodypack systems. Still, many (many) instructors and facilities decided that more frequent repair/replacement of headset-transmitter mic systems was worth it for the ‘cableless’/no bodypack freedom.
In recent years, more sweat-resistant headset-transmitter designs have been developed, some of which can stand beside the best fitness-rated headset/bodypack systems.
Unlike the headset/bodypack systems, you can’t upgrade the headset component of a headset-transmitter system. It is what it is when you buy it, so choose one that’s fitness-rated for the amount of classes that you expect it to be used for in a week.
If you prefer a particular style or brand of cableless mic that’s rated for light use (7-10 classes per week) and you know it will be used for 20 classes per week- buy an additional headset-transmitter and use each on alternate days. Use this formula for heavy use (40-50 classes per week). E.g.: if a headset-transmitter is rated for light use and you have a heavy use class schedule, buy 3 additional headset-transmitters and alternate them.
Spreading the medium to heavy use over multiple headsets is a great idea whether you’re using a cableless transmitter-on-the-headset or a headset/bodypack mic system. Everything lasts longer and you have built-in backup. AV Now offers Smart Bundles for medium and heavy use class schedules for both headset-transmitter and headset/bodypack systems.
Letting any headset mic dry out between uses is recommended. It’s especially important for transmitter-headset systems as the transmitter is likely going to have more moisture on it/in it than a bodypack system. Ideally, hang the headset-transmitter somewhere with plenty of ventilation. Storing any headset mic in a drawer between uses not recommended.