Fitness tenants are making a bigger splash on the commercial real estate scene than ever. According to CBRE, fitness tenants have become one of the most active retail occupiers in the Southern California region in the last 10 years. (More on this in an upcoming story.)
But Kirei, a Solana Beach, California–based provider of innovative acoustical materials that are visually interesting, functional and environmentally friendly, says that fitness facilities are filled with energetic people, motivating pulsing music and noisy workout machines that collectively can contribute to distracting echo and unnecessary commotion for surrounding spaces. Hotels, office buildings, and high-res residential buildings with dedicated fitness areas are all susceptible to these distractions.
Kirei recently introduced EchoScreen, a modular solution for visual and acoustic space division that also serves as acoustic artwork/visual interest, to help combat this problem for gyms. SoCal Real Estate spoke with Kirei’s president, John Stein, about the issue of acoustics in gyms, how customers’ expectations of gyms and their features are changing, and other commercial settings that need to be mindful of acoustics.
SoCal Real Estate: Have acoustics always been an issue in gyms? Why is this issue suddenly gaining attention?
Stein: To most of the world, loud, blasting music and overwhelming echo is “just the sound of the gym” and that’s the way it always was and always would be. Fortunately, today, designers have a better understanding of just how detrimental this noise pollution can be and are designing with acoustics top of
mind in order to suit the needs of occupants.
How are customers’ expectations of gyms and their features changing?
It’s no secret that gym memberships are increasing as customers’ amenity expectations increase. There are plenty of choices out there, but consumers are voting with their feet and their wallets. Members choose a great experience, one that makes them enjoy their workout and time there. Great amenities and experiences, lighting, sound, water, juice bars, and high-quality towels all help influence these decisions.
What other commercial settings need to be mindful of acoustics?
All commercial settings need to be designed with acoustics top of mind; however, lobbies, hallways, and other open multi-use spaces are the most important spaces to be mindful of acoustics. A customer’s experience starts as soon as they walk in the door, and too-loud or too-quiet spaces can adversely affect their perceptions. A business owner never wants to hear a patron say “Let’s get out of here; it’s too loud to talk” or “It’s too quiet in here.” It’s bad for business, whether in a gym, restaurant or multi-use lobby.
What else should our readers know about this issue?
You can fix acoustics, and it’s not expensive! Acoustic perception is different for everyone. It’s important to look at the audience and to understand what is wanted and needed to tune the space — whether it be a muted, velvety sound or a young, energetic sound. Also, it is essential to work with designers and professionals who understand acoustics. There’s a science behind sound, and taking acoustical needs into account early in the planning process lowers cost and will improve the results of the overall space.