How to Reduce Echo in a Gym (Full Guide)


So you’ve probably noticed that the acoustics in your gym are off the charts. The echo from the machines and from clients grunting and even talking casually are too pronounced. Not to mention if you’re playing music at a higher volume. The sound just doesn’t seem right.

This is a problem that every gym owner has to face eventually. However, there are some excellent solutions available. The echo can be reduced by implementing the methods that I’m about to share with you.

1. Lubricate the machines

Before doing anything else, make sure that the machines are well lubricated. The gears in cardio and cable machines, and various mechanic joints need to be well lubricated in order to prevent squeaking noises.

I suggest reading the info in user manuals of each machine in order to determine the correct ways to lubricate them. Especially if it has a motor, which is the case with cardio machines like treadmills.

Some treadmills require a different type of oil, and this information can typically be found in the user manual. If you don’t have one, contacting the manufacturer would be a good option. This video tutorial might also be helpful:

For more basic machines that don’t run on an engine of any sort, you can use regular machine oil or even vegetable oil if you’re in a hurry.

2. Cover the floors with thick rubber mats

Soft floor mats will stop sound reverberation from the floor

Every gym I’ve trained has rubber mats in some locations. Especially in those areas where heavy weights are lifted.

For example, the deadlifting and squating area, and the area with dumbbells, barbells and other free weight equipment.

The reason for doing this is in cases when free weights are dropped to the floor. These mats will not only protect the floor from damage, but they’ll also reduce the echo in these often loud spaces.

Even if the weights are not dropped on the floor, racking the barbell when doing bench press and putting plates on the barbell are some activities that produce a lot of noise.

Another area where these mats can come in handy is under the treadmill. Treadmills produce tons of vibration noise when someone is running on them.

If the treadmill is placed on a hard surface, it gets much, much worse. So placing soft and thick rubber mats under the treadmill will absorb a lot of these vibrations and consequently reduce the noise.

So covering the floor with thick rubber is almost a necessity in any serious gym. Furthermore, clients appreciate this because no one wants to worry all the time about damaging the floor.

While there are many rubber mats to choose from, the EVA interlocking floor tiles are the most popular option for gyms. The one that I’m currently training in actually has these exact floor mats on multiple locations, namely the weightlifting area and the boxing area and I’ve noticed that they’re pretty durable.

Due to the interlocking puzzle design they stay in place better than the regular floor mats. And it doesn’t even require any adhesive to stay in place, as long as the entire floor is covered, or there is some wall or barrier on both sides to keep them in place.

Keep in mind that to reduce echo you should cover as much of the floor as possible in order to prevent the sound from bouncing on hard floor areas.

3. Hang acoustic panels on the walls

Acoustic panels can be used on any wall surface, including the ceiling. They’re designed to absorb echo, which is why they usually have a wedgy or egg crate design. Basically the noise gets stuck in these crevices in the foam material.

Some of these panels are pretty thick and designed for soundproofing purposes as well. The acoustic panels from Sound Engineers are the top choice in this category. So if you’re worried about gym noise annoying people around the gym, hanging thick and heavy acoustic panels can help in this regard.

However, for only reducing echo, you can use the lighter foam panels which are also cheaper. Hang as many as you can on each wall. More is always better, but even hanging them sporadically across the walls will make a difference.

Here’s an example of how the black-and-blue panels look on a regular ceiling:

In order to install these panels on a wall, you can use either hanging strips (such as Command Strips), a regular spray adhesive, or nails and screws.

Either of these options is completely legit. But my advice is to go with hanging strips because they make it easy to remove the panels if you want to later on. They also won’t damage the wall in any way.

So attach one or two strips behind a panel and then stick it on the wall. That all there is to it.

These are the most popular acoustic panels for only reducing echo. They’re really affordable and there are different color patterns to choose from.

4. Hang bass traps in high spots

Effective at absorbing bass echo.

The difference between bass traps and regular foam panels is in the design. Bass traps look like small foam pyramids. Because of this more exposed design, they work even better for capturing lower frequencies. Bass falls in this category.

If you have powerful speakers in the gym, these will definitely improve the acoustics. Place on a few high spots on every wall. Corners are good locations.

Using only regular acoustic panels will get the job done fairly well. But bass traps are a good additional product if you’re really interested in having awesome bass-enhanced sound.

5. Hang noise-absorbing drapes on gym windows

Long noise-absorbing curtains

Windows are the thinnest area and a lot of noise and echo can pass through them and bounce off.

Noise-reducing drapes can be used to easily cover the window. They are heavier and thicker than regular ones. They’re used for sound and thermal insulation and for blackout.

I suggest getting larger drapes that cover more of the window area. But that’s up to you and it depends on the practicality of it. In order to hang them, install a simple curtain rod above the window.

These drapes/curtains are pretty affordable, with the typical cost being between $15 and $60. I’ve covered the best options in this article.

6. Get rubberized dumbbells and plates

A lot of unnecessary noise can be prevented by using rubberized free weights. These are basically coated in thin rubber that doesn’t produce the clunking noise that is typical with metal equipment.

While these are typically a bit more expensive, if you’re currently buying free weights, you might want to take this small upgrade into consideration.

Furthermore, covering the weight racks with self-adhesive rubber tape will minimize the noise when they’re placed or removed from the rack.

Final word: gym echo reduction

Any room that has too much echo is lacking in soft material. There are too many hard surfaces on which sound can bounce off. This is why halls and bathroom often have poor acoustics. And gyms and gymnasiums are no different.

Many gyms are especially exposed to echo due to their size and high ceilings in particular. So it’s really important to cover as much of the floor, walls and windows with soft materials.

The good thing about reducing echo in gyms is that foam panels and rubber mats which are the most affordable options also look really good. Because no one expects some fancy acoustic panels in a gym environment anyway.

So I really suggest focusing on quantity rather than on design of the panels. In other words, if I was doing this for my own gym, I would buy more panels for the same price, rather than less panels which were more fancy.

I hope this information helps and good luck with your financial and muscle gains!

And in case anyone was wondering what my favorite physique of all time is.. it’s the Maryland Muscle Machine! More specifically, the 2002. Mr. Olympia physique.. SHABOOM!

Peter Bone

Soundproof expert and a staunch opponent of noise. This website is a free source of information on how to 'keep it down a notch'. I update the content regularly to keep up with advancements in the soundproofing industry.

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