The users of this corporate gym can never complain about a lack of diverting entertainment – they can select and control a plethora of audio and video sources.
Integrator Electric String recently delivered a project with a very simple brief: to build a powerful and superior quality AV solution for a communal gym that would make it unlike any other. The client was INEOS, a global manufacturer of chemical and oil products, and the facility is located at its central London headquarters.
Control of the gym and creating a unique user experience were key aspects of the design. Unlike most communal gym spaces, the space needed to allow control by individual users rather than expecting users to be force-fed standard distributed content or rely on their personal audio players.
“The real key was to give gym users fully flexible control and access to whatever content they desired from the installed system, something which is simply not possible in most gym situations,” notes Rob Sullivan, commercial director at Electric String.
Users have the option of not only selecting from a wide range of sources of audio and/or video but having full control of those sources as well. In addition to this, they can select on-demand workout plans that can be displayed along with personalised entertainment.
Available to INEOS staff are: internet radio, a virtual jukebox, Blu-ray players and satellite and Freeview TV inputs – all through an easy-to use interface. Gym instructors can also use a microphone to broadcast over the loudspeakers and play workout videos, alongside the users’ chosen audio, on the 98in LG display mounted at the front of the spin studio.
The key components of the integrated solution are control from Crestron and audio from Meridian Audio.
A Crestron DigitalMedia matrix provides 4K video distribution to the main 98in LG screen and three supplementary 65in displays, giving the highest quality images from the source devices and at the same time allowing flexibility in configuration of the distributed content.
Control is handled via a Crestron 3-Series PRO3 processor, with two 10.1in TSW1052 touchpanels for user interaction and an iPad Air for ‘super user’ administrators.
Electric String specified 12 Meridian DSP3300 loudspeakers in white to match the aesthetics of the gym, and mounted them on the walls just below the ceiling so that they appear to be floating. The DSP3300 includes on-board DSP technology that provides thermal and dynamic bass protection, ensuring an extended lifetime of the loudspeaker with a high level of usage over a prolonged period of time. Its compact cabinet houses three drivers, plus the advanced electronics necessary to deliver room-filling sound.
The gym is divided into audio zones, with each zone supported by a Meridian DSW subwoofer to provide the bass and a G65 Surround Controller. The G65 Surround Controller accommodates a wide range of audio and video inputs for flexibility in selecting a source. It also includes Meridian Room Correction, which uses Meridian’s powerful DSP technology to smooth out uneven room resonances for clearer sound and better imaging - crucial to creating a high-quality audio solution in a harsh sound environment.
Sullivan explains: “The gym contains a lot of hard surfaces including wooden floors, mirrored walls and metal and glass gym machines, which doesn’t usually create the best audio environment. However, Meridian’s DSP technology delivered the best possible audio solution, providing fantastic sound quality and an ease of control that has delighted the client and the gym’s users.”
The layout and operation of the user interface was a key aspect to ensure that the system complemented, rather than complicated, each user’s exercise programme. With such an array of sources, dual-zone operation and multiple users, a high level of attention to detail was needed, from the front-end user interface to the back-end programming. As well as working with the client on creating the desired system, Electric String also provided training for instructors and users.
The result is a new dimension of user experience that has delighted the client.
“Electric String was the perfect partner for us with our gym project,” comments Jonny Ginns, group general counsel, INEOS Holdings. “We had to combine several complex lighting, audio and training software packages behind the scenes, and yet present gym users with a very simple user interface via the Crestron touchpanels, which were designed and programmed just for our requirements. The team achieved exactly that and our users love it.”
The project was so well received that the client is now using the system as a blueprint design for future gyms in their offices worldwide.