WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA — Fitness centers may not be the first thing people associate with Guitar Center Professional (GC Pro), the business-to-business (B2B) division of Guitar Center providing highly customized service for professional accounts, but in fact GC Pro has supplied audio and lighting systems to several exercise facilities, for instance, through its long-standing working relationship with Atlanta-based Indoor Cycle Design. The company specializes in creating and outfitting indoor biking studios, including one of its latest projects, the just-completed WheelPower Studio in Deerfield, Illinois.
Tracy Chudnow, “chief sweat officer” of WheelPower worked hand in hand with Barbara Chancey Hoots of Indoor Cycle Design, Ryan Nigh and Jonah Joffe (Account Managers at GC Pro) and Mike Love of GC Pro’s Affiliates Program partner Accutronics LLC, in bringing the project to the finish line. WheelPower is GC Pro’s first fitness-center installation in the Chicago area. It has a unique interior design with a main exercise room that features tiered banks of indoor cycles in a stadium-seating arrangement, complemented by a sound system that Nigh points out “can rock the house with more SPL than most nightclubs and bars,” programmable LED lighting along the ceiling perimeter and two video screens.
“Chudnow and Hoots wanted to create an exciting, adrenaline-pumping atmosphere that had more in common with a rock concert or dance club than your typical static gym environment,” said Nigh. “The instructor can instantly tailor the music and lighting and the video screens can display the performance of the cyclists in real time.”
WheelPower’s four zones of distributed audio and lighting – main “cycle stadium” room, strength-training room, locker room and reception area – are all controlled by a unique custom instructor’s podium at the center of the cycle stadium, designed and built by systems integrator and acoustical consultant Accutronics.
The podium houses all the audio and lighting control gear and enables the instructor to operate all audio and video sources and lighting via laptop. “The podium is completely custom,” noted Nigh. “Mike Love had it custom built. It’s really a functional work of art.” In addition, wall controllers mounted throughout the facility enable adjustment of volume and source selection.
At the heart of the installation is a Rane HAL DSP platform for distributed audio, paging and room combining. The system’s HAL 1X multiprocessor utilizes Cat5 cable to send audio and control signals over long distances.
A total of 17 QSC AD-S10T (2-way 10-inch), AD-S8T (2-way 8-inch) and AD-S6T (2-way 6-inch) surface-mount loudspeakers are mounted on ceiling brackets throughout the facility, and the speakers in the main room are angled at the tiered rows of cycles to provide smooth, even coverage for every rider. The speakers are driven by QSC PLD4.3, PLD 4.2 and GX5 power amps. A QSC KW181 18-inch, 1,000-watt subwoofer can deliver up to 135dB peak SPL of low-frequency impact to the main room and a QSC AD-S112SW sub handles the bass for the strength-training room.
20 Chauvet COLORband3 IRC strip lights are mounted along the ceiling, providing striking lighting effects including RGB color mixing and three control zones that can be synced to the system’s Elation DR-PRO RACK DRP665 DMX lighting controller. A Shure BLX14/SM31 headworn wireless mic system ensures that the instructor can be heard over the sound system.
To say that everyone was under pressure during the project would be like pointing out that the Tour de France is an important bike race. “The irony that we were racing against time to get a cycle studio completed was not lost on anyone,” Nigh said. “The installation simply had to get done by WheelPower’s April grand opening.” Love and the Accutronics crew had to work after hours so that the other contractors could complete their work during the day. “If any of them delayed, that cut into our allotted time,” Love pointed out. “We wound up working 16 to 18-hour days.”
Adding to the challenge, WheelPower Studio is located in a strip mall in between a hair salon…and a mattress store. Love noted, “If you’ve ever been to a mattress store you know it has to be dead-quiet – and here we were installing a system that could hit a high volume! Ryan did a great job with specifying the acoustic treatment in the wall – you can put your hand on the wall and not even feel the slightest vibration.”
“Considering all the challenges, in particular having to conform to the extremely strict Illinois electrical codes and the acoustical requirements, the actual installation itself went very smoothly,” Love said. “The Cat5 connectivity of the Rane components really saved time and labor and they worked exactly as specified, the QSC speakers could not have been easier to mount and GC Pro was top-notch in recommending the right products for the job and making sure we got them on time.”
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