Best Wireless Microphones for Fitness Instructors

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Music production, live sound, speeches, recording. Microphones play so many roles, and there are literally thousands on the market. Each and every one was designed with a different purpose in mind. If you are a fitness instructor, aiming to teach a class such as pilates, spin, yoga, barre, dance… you might find your head spinning after starting to research mic and sound systems. First of all, most microphones in general are designed with musicians in mind. Many are very high-fidelity, but delicate, and not meant for live use. Most live sound is more focused on live music. As a fitness instructor, you have a unique set of needs compared to most mic users.

Wireless vs Wired Microphones

You might realize that a wireless mic is best for you. But even then, listings for wireless mic systems will be full of references to churches, weddings, karaoke… What is a fitness instructor to do? This article takes a look at some of your options, with fitness instruction in mind.

First of all, you definitely want a wireless system. Mic cables are bulky and definitely limit your mobility. Wired mics are still standard in most situations, because the overall sound fidelity and reliability is slightly higher. But for live speaking and announcement-type situations, wireless is the standard. The sound quality is just as good as far as the general public can tell. And the freedom to move around is far superior.

Types of Wireless Mics

Even once you have settled on wireless mics, you have a choice between three different kinds. A handheld mic looks just like a typical singing or karaoke mic, but is usually a bit bulkier because it also contains an antenna to transmit. A headset clips to your head, as made (in)famous by Britney Spears circa 1999. And a lavalier, or “lav” mic is common in Ted Talks, live presentations, church services… it’s small, unobtrusive, and clips to your clothing. Each of these has their own set of advantages and disadvantages for different people.

Handheld Wireless Mics

Karaoke with Wireless Handheld Mic

As a fitness instructor, you might consider a handheld mic. These are the most durable, which is certainly a concern when you are doing something active like a fitness class. They are also easiest to pass off to another person on the fly, if that’s something you need for any reason. The obvious disadvantage is that you have to hold them in your hand, which prevents you from easily using that hand for anything else. You also have to be conscientious when using them, to keep them pretty close to your mouth at all times. Otherwise, your voice will get strangely louder and quieter from the class’s point of view.

Wireless Headset Mics

Fitness Instructor with Headset MicHeadset mics are probably your most versatile option as a fitness instructor. The only serious disadvantage of these is that they are less durable than handheld mics, but they should still hold up just fine under normal use. They are also more expensive.

Some people also see their “look” as a disadvantage. See previous Britney Spears comment- people literally avoided them for years purely because of this. However, manufacturers are aware of this concern, so many models are offered in different skin tone colors, so the headset is less visible.

The advantages of headset mics are great, especially for fitness instructors. They are wireless and hands-free, so you can be as active around your classroom as you like. They are mounted a set distance from your mouth, so you don’t have to worry about sounding inaudible or unprofessional as you move around. And in fact, as I will show, a few models of wireless headset mics are actually designed with fitness instructors in mind. They are not your cheapest options, but with that kind of specialization, it’s hard to do better!

Lavalier Mics

Adjusting Lavalier MicLav mics are probably not a great option for fitness instructors. They are the worst of both worlds- they are less durable than handheld mics, but also can present the same audibility issues. Since they are mounted to your clothes, you could be harder to understand as your head moves. However, they are wireless and hands-free, so if you have access to one for some reason, they will do the job.

Important Notes About Wireless Mics

Before I discuss some specific options, here are a couple of notes for you.

First of all, the mic systems I am summarizing here come with everything you need- except a speaker. They come with their own transmitters and receivers, and since they are bundled, they should be fairly easy to set up- you don’t have to worry about getting wireless devices to “talk” to each other (if you’ve tried this, you know how frustrating and arbitrary it can be.)

Sound System

Your instruction space may already have a PA or loudspeaker system. No need to buy one if so- these options should be compatible with pretty much any loudspeaker system. If not, try searching for a PA speaker such as this or a portable loudspeaker like this. I won’t go into too much detail, as it’s not the point of this article, but you have the option to get one with a power cable, or an internal battery. Keep an eye on the weight- if you are going to be responsible for hauling the speaker to and from class, some are very heavy. Almost any mid- or large-size speaker should fulfill your needs. A larger speaker will make your voice sound more powerful, but will be heavier. You may have to buy a ¼” or XLR cable separately, to connect the mic receiver to the speaker. The XLR cable is also known as a mic cable, and is easily identifiable by its 3-pin plug design. The ¼” cable is also called an instrument or guitar cable, and looks like an oversized headphone plug.

Outlawed Frequency Range

A final note, which hopefully will not be relevant. As of 2017, the FCC banned wireless microphones from using the 600 MHz frequency range, specifically the 617-652 MHz and 663-698 MHz frequencies. Some manufacturers are continuing to try to sell mic systems that use those frequencies, and sometimes used systems come up very cheap because they use those. Anyone selling that is a borderline scam artist, so just make sure to check if you aren’t sure! Any reputable large brand selling new gear is trustworthy though.

Best Handheld Wireless Mic Systems for Fitness Instructors

If you decide a handheld system is best for you, here are some great options.

Higher Budget: Audio-Technica System 10 ATW-1102

There are numerous options in this price range for a mic and receiver setup. My personal pick is the Audio-Technica System 10 ATW-1102 Wireless Handheld Microphone System. It is not the cheapest or most expensive option. Reviews speak very highly of the clarity of sound and the reliability of the system. The range is great as well. This versatile system can be used confidently in professional environments, including to huge audiences, so any fitness instructor would know they can count on it. If you are of the attitude that you want to buy something great and never worry about it again, this is a great choice. Furthermore, Audio-Technica is a large and established company, and their music production gear is pretty well-regarded as well. As you may know, when you need to rely on a piece of technology, it’s often better to buy from an established brand. They are likely to have better customer support policies and communication.

Lower Budget: Phenyx Pro PTU-71

This system is the lowest-price on this list. If budget is your biggest concern, this is a great place to start. The Phenyx system is less than ½ the price of anything else on this list.

As you may expect, when searching for budget electronics, build quality and reliability quickly become major concerns. Reviews of this system speak very positively of it for its price point. Users note that its construction is mostly metal, the switches and knobs have a well-machined feeling, and overall the quality control is high. The sound quality is much better than some systems in this price range, and the transmission range is over 100 feet.

Based on my own experience with lower-priced electronics, I would wager that at the end of the day, you still get your money’s worth. I have never heard of Phenyx before, so the company is likely not as well established. If you have any issues, communication and customer support may not be great. Overall sound and build quality is probably lower than anything else on this list. Lower prices mean something has to be compromised, but overall, the Phenyx Pro PTU-71 is the best bang for the buck at its price point.

Best Wireless Headset Mics for Fitness Instructors

Highest Budget: Shure GLXD14/SM35 Wireless Headset Mic

The Shure system is the highest-price item on this list, but you get your money’s worth. First of all, Shure is an extremely well-respected brand in the music and live sound industries. Several of their microphones, including the SM57. SM58, and SM7b, have reached legendary status, and are industry favorites. They are known for great build quality, great sound, and relatively moderate prices.

This system’s main selling point is a special system that scans the frequency spectrum for interference, and changes in real time- essentially, it ensures a clear wireless connection at all times. The battery is advertised as being best-in-class in terms of intelligent recharging. The headset integrates an SM35 mic, which is high quality enough to be used by professional singers for live performances. The headset is snug but comfortable, to ensure it remains in place during active workouts. If you have the budget, this is an unbeatable choice.

Mid Budget: AKG WMS45 Pro Sports Headset

This system is significantly more affordable than the Shure system, but still quite expensive. The AKG system has the added advantage of being designed with sports and fitness instructors in mind. The C544 L mic comes with extra moisture shielding, to withstand your sweatiest moments. The body-mounted transmitter is the smallest and lightest in its class. Finally, AKG is also a well-respected and established brand in the professional music world. Not as legendary as Shure, but many of its products are iconic in their own right (in fact, I just wrote a glowing review of their k701 studio headphones in another post.)

Low Budget: No Recommendation

I had planned to write a section recommending a budget headset- but after doing more research, I am choosing not to recommend any. Wireless headset mics are by their nature, a fairly sensitive piece of equipment. A fitness instructor has fairly strenuous needs from their gear. I found some low-priced options on Amazon with reasonably good reviews, but all had multiple customer complaints about low durability and poor customer support. I would advise that if you choose to invest in a lower-quality headset mic, buyer beware. You will likely spend less over time if you invest in a decent system once.

Conclusion

And there you have it, an introductory guide to investing in a wireless mic system for all kinds of fitness instructors. Whether you plan to teach yoga, spin, pilates, barre, dance. Based on your budget and your needs, this list should help you navigate your options and plan your setup. Happy teaching!