Going to the gym can be hard. Even when you arrive feeling focused, chattering strangers and unpleasant background music can quickly strain your patience. Fortunately, ear plugs are a great way to find a little peace while you work out.
So first thing's first: active or passive? By that I mean, do you want to listen to your own music/podcast/book (active protection), or do you just want to escape from the ambient noise (passive protection)?
First, the active solution: listening to your own sound, while blocking out ambient noise. In a way, gaining the ability to listen to your own sound source is easier than trying not to hear anything at all, because once you put your Isolation Earphones in, the combination of ear plug tips and your own music will easily mask the ambient noise. For those who have never used them, Isolation Earphones inject music directly into your ears using tiny little speakers (called drivers), while the ear plug style earpieces fill the ears, blocking out external sound.
Our top Isolation Earphone picks for exercising would be PlugFones or ISOtunes, both of which offer wired and Bluetooth versions to choose from. All of these earphones will transform your experience at the gym, and the prices are not bad, ranging from around $30 up to $90, depending on the model you choose. These two brands offer particularly powerful noise isolation/sound blocking. Their sound quality is pretty good, but if you are looking for high fidelity audio, you're going to have to pay quite a bit more: consider other Universal Fit Isolation Earphones.
But what if you just want silence?
You're not alone. A lot of people just want it to be quiet. One customer described her ideal goal as "artificial deafness." Unfortunately, that is nearly impossible to achieve, even with the very best ear plugs. The more sound you block, the more acute your hearing becomes, so about the best you can hope for is to reduce the sounds you hear to a whisper. Now, for most people that is sufficient - even desirable, in fact - because if an alarm goes off, you still want to hear that!
But maybe you are not most people. Maybe you really don't want to listen to anything, and yet still want to completely get rid of the gym's annoying music. Good news: you can easily achieve this by using isolation earphones and playing a masking sound such as white noise through your earphones. The masking sound will drown out the irritating music and chatter. After just a few minutes, your mind will actually begin to ignore the white noise, leaving you in blissful peace and quiet.
But what about regular ear plugs...?
So now we get to the passive solution: plain old ear plugs. No batteries, no frills, just noise blocking. Well, to be clear, you'll still have the closest thing to "silence" using isolation earphones to listen to white noise. But while ear plugs might not give you perfect quiet, they can certainly reduce the ambient noise - and they also cost much less than isolation earphones!
Our top suggestion would be to try a reusable earplug.
The most economical choices are going to be found in our industrial reusable earplugs category, since these are made to be used by large numbers of workers in big facilities. They last for months and cost less than a dollar per pair. You usually can't get these in quantities smaller than a box of 100 pairs, but Ear Plug Superstore is delighted to break bulk for you - so you can grab just a pair or two to try out. We even offer a handy Reusable Industrial Ear Plug Trial Pack that will let you try out a bunch of different products to find your favorites.
Many consumer brands of reusable ear plugs are also available, but they tend to be far more expensive than the industrial variety. Of these, it is worth noting that Musician's Ear Plugs may be a good solution for some people; these ear plugs do not block noise so much as simply turn down the volume. If you just want to take the edge off of the ambient sound, these are a good option to consider.
Finally, what I would not recommend are Foam Ear Plugs. They block out more noise than the industrial plugs, but they are prone to getting soaked with sweat during workouts. You can only use them once or twice, quickly making them more expensive than the reusables (which are impervious to water.) In fact, reusable ear plugs may be washed and safely reused for months, making your workouts more peaceful for a long time to come.
Tom Bergman, Vice President
Ear Plug Superstore