New 'sound off' technology being used for group exercise classes

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- At first glance a Santa Monica exercise class may look like your average fitness group, but when you look closer you'll see all the participants have a special set of head phones.

"We're going to turn the sound off, but keep the party going," Ethan Castro of Sound Off Experience said.

Castro said Sound Off Experience is a company that was created to offer a "silent disco." It then moved into the fitness world by creating a system where the music and the instructors queues go directly to the head phones.

"As an outsider you're looking and saying, 'What are these people doing?' And then as soon as you put on the headphones, they hear the instructor, the dance party, the DJ, they're like, 'Oh now I get it,'" Castro explained.

"When you teach group fitness the energy of people coming together is amazing. But when you have the headsets it's like nobody else matters. It's just you and whoever you're teaching with," said Esmey Leon who teaches group exercise for The Bay Club in Santa Monica.

"It's nice to have your own system and be outside," said Rachel Grigsby of Mar Vista.

The experience also provides a health benefit to those who want it.

Most participants said they liked it because they could adjust their own volume. Government guidelines for sound require that if noise levels are higher than 85 decibels protective gear must be worn.

Many tests reveal that group exercise levels can rise above that with frequency, so this give the student a chance to enjoy the workout at a level that suits them.

"Sound Off Experience is completely immersive. You don't have any outside distractions. They have a dial on the right hand side. So some people like to crank their music, they're deaf like me from teaching all these years. And others maybe not, so they have complete control," explained Breann Mitchell, regional group exercise director of The Bay Clubs.

Mitchell said they're offering the Sound Off Experience workout with a new program called "The Drop" to get students excited about the concept.
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