The Ultimate Guide to Portable PA Systems for Fitness

An extensive guide to all aspects of portable pa systems in fitness. With years of experience in the fitness industry we know a thing or two about what portable speakers are popular for different types of fitness classes and application.

Portable PA System How to guide for fitness gym instructors

What is a Portable PA (Public Address) Speaker System?

These are small, cost effective, mains operated, or battery powered (on selected models) sound solutions for anyone requiring a portable self-contained audio setup for either indoor or outdoor use.

This makes a portable sound system perfect for all types of fitness classes offering lots of key features without the need for any additional sound equipment or cables, all housed within a single box. Easy plug and play so you can concentrate on your fitness class.

Portable PA speakers are very popular and used on a regular basis for the following type of fitness activities:

Spin, Zumba, Aerobics & Aqua Aerobics, Pilates, Aqua Circuits, Dance, Circuit, Body Pump classes, as well as H.I.I.T (High Intensity Interval Training), Boxercise, Clubbercise. The list of suitable applications for these devices is never ending!

What are the most popular portable PA speaker brands for fitness?

QTX products are very popular as they will offer all the in-built key features such as microphones USB players etc, without the hefty price tag.

BST products are usually bomb proof. So, if you are looking to work the socks off your sound system on a regular basis without it dropping to bits, these speakers are as good as it gets.

This also goes for the LD Systems Road series product range, which are designed for the more demanding and rigorous applications. Offering superior sound quality and well as durability.

Electro-Voice powered speakers, in particular the ZLX-12 BT offer amazing sound and build quality, with the only downside being that a microphone system would need to be purchased separately to run with this system.

Integrated Radio Microphone System

Radio microphone systems can come integrated into the portable pa speaker. There are lots of options when it comes to portable radio microphone systems with independent volume controls. Typically a radio mic system allows a choice of either a head worn / headset microphone, a Handheld microphone or a Tie clip microphone.

Music Gear Fitness have a full demonstration facility where we can show you the features and benefits of each type of microphone with your backing tracks or music to get a real feel for what’s best in your class and more importantly, what’s best for you. Different fitness classes and instructors prefer different options depending on their individual scenario.

Portable PA Speaker System on Wheels for Fitness Instructors Easy features

Bluetooth Capability

Bluetooth capability, which allows you to stream your audio wirelessly from your smartphone or tablet, this is available on most current models.

Internal Batter Power Source (Portability)

Internal Battery power source negates the need to plug into a mains supply, great for working outdoors or around areas where there is high humidity or close to water. Aqua Aerobics, Aqua Circuits or general swimming pool use.

Built in Mixer for balancing treble & bass levels

A built-in internal mixer for balancing out your individual levels and adjusting Bass and Treble settings. These features are perfect for those classes requiring prominent bass drumbeats when you need to get the class moving in time.

Portable PA Speaker with integrated settings to adjust sound quality during fitness classes by gym instructor

Multiple Audio Inputs for Extra Microphones

Additional audio inputs for extra microphones (For multiple instructors), instruments and other audio devices such as smartphones and tablets if needed. 

SD Card, USB Input Players & Remote Controls

Just fill up your USB Stick or SD Card with all your favourite songs and play lists and away you go. This is a great alternative to Bluetooth as it offers better sound quality and never drops a beat. You won’t need to place your phone in airplane mode again, as it’s now not needed and all those “It’s Not Playing” moments with apps such as Spotify over your network or wi-fi are a thing of the past.

Choosing songs, stop, start etc, can all be controlled wirelessly with the included remote control, so certainly worth considering.

Wheels & Trolley Handle for Easy Transport

You’ll probably already have your hands full with various pieces of equipment when you first arrive for class, water bottles, lights, clothing etc. So, having to also carry around your sound system can be a real pain, particularly if it’s on the heavy side!

Thankfully on the majority of systems, a trolley handle and a set of wheels are included as standard, allowing you to easily transport the unit over any distance without breaking your back or sweat!

What Microphone is best for fitness classes?

Head worn or headset microphones are the most popular choice for many instructors as these microphones will stay in place over the head during a heavy workout, leaving both hands totally free. They have a wire-free range anywhere up to 100 metres from the main unit, so allowing the instructor to get in and amongst the class, whilst still able to communicate through the sound system.

Skin coloured headset fitness microphone for gym instructors part of a portable speaker
Portable pa system speaker on speaker stand with wireless headset microphone on gym instructor during a spin fitness class

Top 3 Things to Consider When Buying a Portable PA System for Fitness

When you are looking to purchase a new sound system, there are a few key factors to which you would have probably considered:

1. Cost of the Portable PA Speaker

Cost would be important along with size and weight, sound quality as well as built in features. As a price guide, our extensive selection ranges from around £99 to over £1000.

2. Size of the Loudspeaker

Size and weight are also a major consideration, as you will be regularly carrying the system around with you, as well as getting it to fit alongside all your other potential equipment nicely into your car, garage or home.

3. Audio & Sound Quality

Sound quality can be better achieved with a bigger budget, but one other major factor to consider that will also have a huge impact on the overall sound and quality, is the diameter of the actual speaker within the box. There’s nothing worse than a tinny sound when you’re trying to motivate and energise your class to get them moving.

Take the QTX, QR series powered systems for example. These are available with either a 10″, 12″ or 15″ speaker. The actual model numbers are, QR10, QR12 and the QR15. All three units have the same identical 100-Watt amplifier powering them and all have exactly the same built in features, the only difference between them is the size of the main speaker.

What Difference will the Size of the Speaker Make?

To put it simply, the bigger the speaker the more dynamics, fullness of sound and volume levels are available to you. The downsides are that they are bigger in size (Take up more space in your car), weigh more and usually will cost you more.

Let’s take a Zumba Class Instructor as an example,

Due to the high volume levels required and the need for an energetic sound with lots of low end bass frequencies, a 15 inch speaker would be much better suited to this type of application as it is better at handling the lower bass frequencies.

Unfortunately, the 10-inch speaker due to its physical size would struggle to produce the bass required to energise the class as well as generate enough volume. It would probably sound quite distorted and unpleasant to listen to if pushed too hard. Not what is required within an energetic Zumba class.

However if you were a Pilate instructor for example, a heavy bass sound along with high volume levels are not a necessity for this type of activity.

So now the 10 inch version, which would benefit from a cheaper price tag, is much smaller in size and much lighter, would be more than capable of producing the desired results for this type of application.

From past experience, we have found the 12″ speaker configuration the popular choice out of these three sizes, mainly as it is cheaper to buy and not as bulky in size and weight compared to the 15″ version.

Although offering a slightly weaker bass response compared to the 15″ version, it’s probably the most versatile and certainly offers you improved sound quality as well greater volume levels compared to the 10″ version

How to Make Sure Your Portable PA System has all the Necessary Features Required for Fitness

Bluetooth is an important factor for a lot of people as the wireless connectivity is much more convenient than using a cable.

It’s worth noting however that because of Bluetooth technologies limited bandwidth, using a wired cable will give better sound quality results as well as offering slightly higher overall volume levels from your system.

Be sure that if you are requiring a radio microphone, the correct item is included as standard with your system. Most instructors prefer a headset system rather than a hand held device or tie clip microphone, but not all systems will be supplied with a headset as standard, so you may need to purchase this item separately. Also worth bearing in mind that with most budget systems, the quality of the headset microphones are generally of low quality, so we would go as far as to say that for more energetic classes and for a more stable fit around the head as well as other important features, such as sweat resistant components, upgrading your microphone would be a good sound investment decision.

If you are using any external devices, for example a CD Player, it’s worth checking that the devices are compatible and that you are able to integrate them together.

Speak to a Portable PA System Audio Specialist Today and Find Out What's Best for You