Should Loud Music be the Next Contraindication?

Loud music can be fun. It can give energy to the classroom.  

But what if your loud music is actually doing permanent structural damage to your riders’ ears? What is your responsibility to your riders? Are loud classes really better classes?

Is Loud Music a Contraindication?

The guiding principle of ICA is to “Keep it Real.” Our commitment is to use the best science to provide our riders with classes that are safe, effective, and fun.

Safety comes first. As doctors pledge, “First, do no harm.” This is why certain movements are contraindicated in indoor cycling, even if they are popular. We don’t do push-ups on the bike, hovers, or excessive cadence with no resistance because we know from science that they are not biomechanically correct techniques and there are possible long-term risks associated with those movements.

How does this commitment relate to the use of loud music in class?


There are many free or inexpensive apps that you can download to your smartphone that measure decibel levels. Search for “decibel measurement tools” in the app store. One that I’ve found helpful is Decibel 10.


  1. IDEA Opinion Statement: Recommendations for Music Volume in Fitness Settings.” IDEA Health and Fitness Association. September 1, 2002.
  2. Dangerous Decibels and Exercise Classes,” Lisa Packer, Healthy Hearing, March 30, 2015.
  3. Hearing Protection: Your Body’s Fight or Flight Response Helping You,” Healthy Hearing, June 7, 2010.
  4. Auditory and non-auditory effects of noise on health.” National Institutes of Health, Mathias Basner, MD, et al.
  5. United States Department of Labor, Occupational Health and Safety Administration



  1. OMG this is so, so true. I can not tell you how long and often this factor has been an issue for me. In another life I have dealt with both transportation and music, or actually the transportation of same. I’ve seen the damage that loud music does. I’ve had the opportunity to learn about it in a significant way, and have as a result always kept music (and related effects) dialed down. I’ve lost both participants and gigs because of it. I’ve had to contend with people saying things like, “you rock on a bike, but you need to up volume the music”. I generally decline! Interestingly if I put it to the class, group or whatever….the majority of times I get that people are fine with the chosen volume. But now and then, I get someone who wants to up volume the music, and sure enough the next thing we’re loosing time to is by how much if any? There should be some research that shows what the “best” volume is to encourage energy, but preserve hearing and health. I’ve yet to find it, and if I did, I’m sure there would be another that would contradict it. 😉

    1. Author

      Thanks, Matt. I appreciate your sensitivity to this issue. The best guideline I know is to use the OSHA guideline described in the article. There is a legal and rational basis for using that. And, as you suggest, soft music can be just as motivating if properly used. Thank you.

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