Type of Resources
There are 373,700 fitness instructors employed in the United States as of 2019. The percent change in employment from 2019 to 2029 is projected to increase by 15% (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020). It is important to know if this population is aware of the possibility of auditory damage due to exposure to high sound levels or are aware of the potential risk of laryngeal damage, such as vocal fatigue, when instructing a fitness class. The objectives for this project were to investigate the knowledge, attitudes, and self-reported behaviors relating to sound levels and vocal effort and describe the potential for laryngeal and/or auditory damage when working as a fitness instructor. In addition, another objective was to investigate symptoms of auditory or vocal damage fitness instructors have experienced immediately following fitness class instruction. Twenty-five fitness instructors completed an online questionnaire that contained 76 questions. Participants answered questions about their knowledge, attitudes, and self-reported behaviors regarding fitness class sound levels and vocal effort as well as their perceptions regarding any potential risks of hearing and laryngeal damage. Results suggested fitness instructors had some knowledge when it came to identifying what types of sounds were typically loud enough to potentially damage their ears and how to protect their ears when around loud sounds. However, the fitness instructors appeared to be lacking in their ability to identify where the damage occurred in their ears and what level of sound was high enough to cause hearing loss. Gym management and fellow instructor standards were not as important as their personal preferences or the class participants preferences when determining the volume setting of the music played during fitness classes. Fitness instructors were aware the fitness studio had high sound levels; however, they were not willing to protect their ears as 100% of the participants reported not utilizing hearing protection when instructing a fitness class and when asked if they would do something to protect their ears when around loud sounds during their next fitness class the majority (58.33%) reported “probably no.” Participants seemed to have adequate knowledge about vocal effort and potential of laryngeal damage as all, but two participants reported appropriate methods when asked about ways they can preserve their voice after instruction. Most participants were correct when identifying symptoms of vocal problems, with the majority selecting hoarse voice and raspy voice, followed by coughing. However, over half (66.7%) reported they do not consider the risk of vocal fatigue when selecting the music volume for their classes. The average amount of participants reported utilizing a “somewhat severe-severe” vocal effort when instructing and 32% reported they never utilized a microphone. Over half (56%) of participants had experienced vocal problems after teaching and only five participants out of the 56% were adjusting their teaching methods due to their vocal problems. Overall, the study outcomes suggested many fitness instructors had adequate knowledge about sound levels and the risk of hearing damage as well as vocal effort and potential risk of laryngeal damage but they did not feel the necessity to develop behaviors or change their attitudes with regard to protecting their hearing or voice. The results from this study suggested fitness instructors could benefit from greater education and health promotion to increase their knowledge to possibly change their attitudes and behaviors to ones that could appropriately care for their hearing and vocal health.