The noise of your brand – my experience of the gym Better and the restaurant Jak’s in London

One of the things that makes us human is our ability to have a conversation. Last week in London I had at least two bad experiences where there was no chance to have a conversation. One was in a gym and one in a restaurant.

Two reasons you go to the gym are to get strong and to stay healthy. Not to get tinnitus or a headache.

I’ve done weight training at lots of gyms over the years, and last week I tried out a chain in West London called Better. They have a green logo, and their gyms sound fabulous on their website. Note that the tagline is ‘the feel good place’. Better-Logo-with-strap-line-665x479

When I was there they had the radio on pretty loudly. I went up to the reception and asked them to turn it down.

The answer I got was: ‘This is our normal volume and we have to accommodate all our customers, and therefore we need to keep the volume up.’ Then the man at the reception said: ‘I will let the management know about your complaint.’

I have a decibel meter on my smartphone, and I measured the volume when standing in the middle of the gym. It was between 73 and 78 decibels.

Ten minutes later when I was exercising at one of the machines, I suddenly noticed someone staring at me. It turns out that it was the manager. He asked me if there was a problem. ‘Yes, there is a problem. The volume is far too loud, can you please turn it down?’

The music is too loud for us to have a normal conversation, and we both speak really loudly to each other. ‘The manager’ looks at me and tells me: ‘We need to accommodate everyone who’s in the gym and this is our normal volume.’

READ MORE   Q&A: Will my potential customers judge me by what I write on Twitter?

I get really annoyed and tell him that the gym is discriminating against people suffering from hearing impairment and people who can’t spend too long in a noisy environment. And if people are not having any hearing problems now, they will later.

Better gym

I was wearing my headphones at the time, and the next question I get asked is: ‘Do you want us to turn down the volume so you can listen to your own music in your headphones?’

‘That’s not the case,’ I reply, ‘but I would like to be in a gym that uses music as a background sound and not like it’s a frigging concert.’

I always listen to podcasts when I’m at the gym, and in this case I had turned up the volume to the highest setting and I still found it hard to hear the content. But the reason that I asked for the volume to be turned down was not only so I could hear the podcast.

In the end ‘the manager’ turned down the volume so it was between 69 and 78 decibels, so a slight improvement.

I left, and I’m pretty sure I will never set foot in any of the Better gyms again.

Better gym London. The noise of your brand

On Saturday evening, I was invited for dinner at Jak’s on Kings Road in West London. I arrive at 8.30 and sit down in the bar area. The venue is in a basement, and it’s a huge place.

Just after 9 pm, they turn up the volume, and it’s more or less impossible to have a relaxed conversation. I always have earplugs with me in my handbag, and I put them in, but they barely help.

READ MORE   Thoughtful marketing. An alternative to pushy PR and nonpersonal social media messages

I try my best and have a nice chat with some other guests. Next to us there is a big screen showing an Al Pacino movie, and eventually we all start to stare at the screen instead of talking.

Then I walk over to the restaurant area hoping for a better atmosphere. Wow, am I wrong. There is almost no difference in the noise level. I pick up my smart decibel meter and it shows that the volume is between 85 and 98 decibels.

Jak's, Kings road London restaurant. The noise of your brand.

I get back to my friends feeling really bad. I decide to go home. There is no chance that I could have enjoyed myself over dinner while screaming for a few hours.

Jacks London Kings road

Did the manager of Jak’s think that people were enjoying themselves? Some of the guests were probably too pissed to notice the volume, I don’t know, but music should enhance your experience of a venue, not drive people away.

Just after 10 pm, I took the bus to the nearest McDonald’s, had a cheeseburger and then I went to bed.

That was my Saturday evening.

*****

Facts

  • Disturbing sound equals interfering noise, aka noise pollution.
  • To keep background music levels okay for people to talk you should not go over 55 decibels.
  • Most guests and people working in hospitality want to be able to have a conversation many of them suffer from tinnitus and hearing loss.
  • You can design the environment smarter so that noise is absorbed. Think tablecloths and better interior design.
  • Many brands still don’t get the sound of their brand.

You might also like to read two articles I’ve written about sound:

READ MORE   What about modern values. Where do they come from?

Setting The Tone With Background Music

The Sound Of Your Brand

Please support the movement of creating more public spaces with less noise.

Stop noise