Stores, as well as gyms, need to turn down the volume

The reader signed herself, "Losing my hearing yet hoping to hang on to my job."

"It's not the gym," she wrote in response to my lament last week about deafening health club music, "but the retail establishment in which I work. The music is turned way up 24/7 and I don't understand how that translates into dollars. I have torn out your column to share with my manager."

She was one of many people who wrote to moan about the invasion of dangerously loud music in every corner of modern life.

Some echoed my lament about health clubs.

"Fortunately for me," wrote Lori Kash, who belongs to a North Shore branch of the New York-based club of which I'm a member, "I wear hearing aids (yes, most likely due to lots of loud rock concerts many years ago) and I can turn my volume way down to a safe level or simply put them on mute.  Never thought I'd be in a situation in which I felt more fortunate than those with normal hearing. Thanks for getting this issue heard (pun intended)."

A reader named Maggie, who described herself as "an avid gym-goer, instructor and personal trainer" called the music level where she works out "ridiculous."

"If it were not for my home remedy of stuffing Kleenex in my ears before each and every class, I would be completely deaf," she wrote. "My Zumba instructor suffers from a hoarse voice constantly."

Zumba was a recurring villain in the emails I received.

"I need multiple copies of your article," wrote Jacqueline Krump. "I shall politely hand them to both Zumba instructors at my health club — my own appeals have fallen on deaf ears."¿

Of course her appeals have fallen on deaf ears. Any instructor who constantly listens to screaming music is at risk of hearing problems. Seriously. Gym instructors need to start defending their own hearing health.

Bellowing music doesn't stop at the gym, however.

Many people wrote to complain about restaurants that leave them exhausted from shouting and stores that seem intent on cranking up the volume to drive out anyone over 30. That's a problem for parents who have to be in the store to pay.

"You should run a follow-up on the loud music played at teen stores like Hollister, Gilly Hicks, Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostale, Victoria's Secret, to name a few," wrote Bill Thompson of Woodridge.  "Their sound systems rival those found at nightclubs and bars. I have resorted to attempting to block out their music with double-flanged ear buds. I have an app called TooLoud on my iPhone and it consistently reads in the upper 80s (too loud) at these stores. The teens who work there will no doubt suffer permanent hearing loss later in life."

Michael Pajonk of Oak Park wrote to protest the decibel level at the United Center during Blackhawks games:

"You can no longer hear the click of skates on the ice or the sound of pucks hitting sticks during the pregame warm-up. I wrote the Blackhawks about this and was told that fan surveys showed that's what Hawks fans want.  Maybe they focused on ticket buyers with gym memberships."

Finally, this from Peggy Gudbrandsen of Lake Forest, who quit the "body pump" class at her club because the music hurt:

"Next I left the bicycle spin classes. No way to hear the instructor over the noise of the 'music.' I filled the suggestion box to no avail. I'm composing a new song: "God, Turn the Music Down ... PLEASE."

If God gets that done, even some heathens will hum along.

mschmich@tribune.com

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