Gyms, spas, and other wellness-associated centers greatly benefit from background music that promotes an overall sense of calm, balance, energy, or balance, depending on the specific focus of the business.
Music Made for the Health of Your Business
Many business owners know that certain types of music encourage their customers or patients to engage with the product or service in specific ways by improving their energy or helping them relax. While background music can be very helpful for every business, creating a certain auditory ambiance through sound is particularly important when the business states they will help their customers feel, and even look, better.
Gyms, spas, and wellness centers all promote improvements in physical, mental, and emotional well-being as part of their services. To help potential new clients begin making these changes, managers and staff at these businesses can find music that triggers these feelings as soon as the client steps in the door.
Of course, gyms and spas both offer different approaches to better health, so they need very different types of playlists.
We’ve outlined some of the best music options for either a gym, spa, or wellness center to consider when creating hours of great playlists for their customers.
Gyms & Fitness Studios
Gyms and fitness studios are designed to motivate and support the diverse needs of their member communities. Many contemporary gym spaces feature spin studios, yoga rooms, cross-training facilities and lap pools — each of which serves a different purpose for the business.
As a gym operator, you can schedule different music themes and tempos throughout the day in different music zones (such as lobby/reception, membership offices, common areas, and locker rooms) to assure that each amenity supports members' commitment and health.
Music to Energize: Getting the Best Gym Experience
There are so many different ways to exercise, you can find almost anything to suit your personality and physical needs at the gym.
Music preferences are very much like working out. Everyone loves music, but what kinds of music pump us up the most can vary greatly. However, research shows that there are some baseline considerations for the ideal gym playlist that can help managers find great music to play in the background.
Research over more than a century proves that music supports better athletic performance during workouts. One of the first scientific studies occurred when a researcher in 1911 noticed that cyclists pedaled faster while listening to music. Since then, studies into this phenomenon focus on five key benefits for adding music to a workout:
- Music makes us more social. Although gyms are not necessarily hubs of social activity, we are often around other people. Whether you are working out on the circuit by yourself or in a group exercise class, faster-paced, bass-driven music can make you feel happier, which makes you more interested in being around other people, especially when they are working toward a similar health goal.
- Music paces and regulates your movements. Dancers intentionally move to the beat of music, but everyone reacts physically to songs playing in the foreground or background, even subconsciously. Your breathing pattern will typically sync up with the beat of the song, leading your heart rate to follow suit.
The rhythm of music also makes learning new movements simpler for your brain. If you are trying a new type of exercise, putting on an energizing playlist can help you feel good.
- Music elevates your mood. Upbeat and up-tempo music can improve your mood, whether you are familiar with the song or not. Music taps into the emotional “affective centers” of the brain, as does exercise. Combining the two can keep you motivated not only while you are in the gym, but also for hours afterward.
- Music can distract from physical sensations. Doctors are increasingly playing music for their patients during medical procedures, as encouraging the patient to focus on something outside of their body improves mood, reduces anxiety and pain, and helps overall outcomes. This is true for gyms too. While you want to maintain proper physical form during a workout, listening to music can help you focus on something other than tiring muscles.
- Music reduces how the brain processes fatigue. When you focus on something outside yourself, like a great song, you will not notice how much effort you are exerting. As noted before, this can reduce how much you notice sensations of pain during a workout, but it can also help time to seem to go by faster, so you exert enough effort to get healthy without realizing it.
Getting your heart rate up is a key part of exercise, and raising your heart rate to between 120 and 140 beats per minute is ideal for cardiovascular health. Playing fast-paced music, with 130 to 140 beats per minute, can encourage you to move faster as you work out while distracting you from any negative physical sensations as you get into a groove. Faster songs with a prominent baseline can also emotionally support you as you lift weights.
Additionally, playing music around 70 to 75 decibels is the ideal volume and intensity for most people. Although you may want it a little quieter for background music in lobbies and dressing rooms or a little louder in crowded, noisy areas.
High-Energy Exercise Tracks to Get Your Heart Pumping
A survey of 6.7 million Spotify playlists dedicated to working out found the best songs for warming up, peak cardio activity, and cooling down. Here are some recommendations from the survey:
Stretching and Warming Up
- “Roar” by Katy Perry
- "Talk Dirty” by Jason Derulo
- “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams
- “Move” by Little Mix
Main Cardio Workout
- “You Make Me” by Avicii
- “Timber” by Pitbull ft. Ke$ha
- “Applause” by Lady Gaga
- “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
- “Burn” by Lorde
- “Love Me Again” by John Newman
Salons, Wellness Centers, & Spas
Salons and spas are serene spaces, offering customers the opportunity to escape and relax. Studies show that spa customers tend to evaluate their salon and spa experience with aesthetic measures like color, decor, cleanliness, texture, temperature, and sound.
As a spa operator, you can inspire your client’s comfort and overall experience with ambient music and subtle messaging, curated to enhance relaxation and meditation.
Music to Soothe: Enhancing the Spa Experience
In contrast to a high-energy workout experience, people who go to spas, wellness centers, and salons typically want to find peak health through relaxation. Deep breathing, massages, aromatherapy, saunas, hot pools, and other similar options improve both mental and physical health through opposite body and mind experiences to exercise.
Both are important, but playing a high-energy playlist will cause more stress and frustration in spa patrons. Setting the right tone requires a different type of music.
A research team at Stanford University found that listening to music can provide similar relaxing mental health benefits as medication, so playing the right music can greatly reduce stress as soon as a client walks into your spa or wellness center. Slower rhythms or even gentle nature sounds will trigger emotional and temporal areas of the brain just like high-energy tracks, but they create a very different effect.
The Stanford research team used an electroencephalogram (EEG) machine to study brainwave patterns for different songs. They found that slower-tempo music created a hypnotic or meditative state, leading to slower rhythmic breathing, relaxed heart rate, and greater sense of ease.
Another study with the British Academy of Sound Therapy found that one particular song, which started at 60 beats per minute and gradually slowed to 50, could potentially be the most relaxing song in the world. There was no repeating melody, so the brain could allow the music to become fully background with little effort. The song is “Weightless” by Marconi Union. Consider adding it to the playlist at your spa or salon.
Meditative, Relaxing Music for Spas
While there is one song judged to be the most relaxing so far, playing this song over and over will not have the same relaxing effects every time. In fact, your clients might become frustrated or bored. Here are some other potential playlists to try in your wellness center:
- A Moment of Peace Meditation
- Echoes of Time
- The Winding Path
- Angels of Venice
- Earth Drum
- Buddha Spirit
What Is the Best Music to Work Out To? Men’s Journal.
Feeling the Beat: Symposium Explores the Therapeutic Effects of Rhythmic Music. (May 2006). Stanford News.
Neuroscientists Found the Most Relaxing Song. (August 2019). Discovery.
Releasing Stress Through the Power of Music. University of Nevada, Reno.