As a provider of amenity fitness center solutions, we’re always conscious of what the health clubs are up to and the trends thereof…..
In July, Club Industry.Com ran an interesting article noting the transformation of many clubs and spaces therein to less equipment and more functional training areas or zones. So, many club owners are not only focused on new spaces, but how important flooring can be in those areas.
Small club operators and specialty gym owners who want to make the most of their limited space are investing in versatile, cost-efficient flooring. Michael Lee Romer, owner of Force Fitness, an 11,500-square-foot club in Ridgewood, NY, says that small clubs often do not have specialized studios or training areas, so flooring needs to be able to accommodate a variety of different activities. At Force Fitness, one studio houses boot camps, kettlebell classes and Zumba classes. The room originally featured thick mats, but Romer said he had to re-evaluate his choice when he noticed kettlebells bouncing off the floor. The studio now has hardwood floors, and members are required to use thin, personal rubber mats for kettlebell classes to avoid damaging the wood.
Romer says he learned from the experience and is carefully considering which flooring will be used in the functional training room being added to the facility.
“I have to think about multipleuses,” Romer says. “I see a lot of bigger clubs build functional areas and put turf down, and it does make it look cool. But being a bigger club, they have the money. Turf is not cheap, and if it’s not much more functional than a typical rubber floor I could put down, I have to think about that.”
More group training facilities are now looking for quality flooring that allows them to offer a diverse range of activities, says Steve Chase, general manager of Indianapolis-based Fitness Flooring. Rubber is a popular choice because of its durability, but wood flooring and artificial turf also are viable options.
Flooring should be determined by how it will be used,which may mean owners need to invest in more than one type of floor.
“Typically, you will find that no one type of flooring will fit all the requirements of all the activities that you are planning to do, and you’ll require two, three or even four types of surfaces,” Chase says.
Cost is a big concern for small club and studio operators, says John Donati, owner of Centaur Floor Systems, Santa Barbara, CA, but there are financial benefits to buying flooring for a more training-centric facitlity.
“For the most part, functional training facilities get very good wearability in their floors because they don’t have the heavy abuse that a traditional center has,” Donati says.
Although flooring frequently, owners should still invest in durable flooring, epsecially in areas where equipment will be repeatedly dropped or slammed, to get the most out of their money.
“you need a floor that’s going to take that type of beating,” Donati says. “A low-quality floor is not going to handle that type of abuse.”
John Aten, vice president of sales and marketing for Regupol America, Lebanon, PA, says the quality of flooring also is important because many group training and CrossFit facilities focus on body-weight exercises, which require members to have direct contact with the floor.
“It’s such an integral part of the training,” Aten says. “There’s a little less equipment involved. People can put a little more money into their floor and think of it as a long-term investment.”
Specialty facilities also have to consider their location when determining what flooring needs to be used. Studios in strip malls or near residential areas may require flooring that reduces noise and vibrations, especially if heavy equipment, such as bumber plates, tractor tiles and battle ropes, is being used, Aten says.
Facility operators can extend the life of their investment by purchasing removable flooring tiles, which are ideal for owners who plan on moving to a larger facility or have diverse flooring needs but a limited amount of space, he adds.
Using portable tiles gives Aspen CrossFit, Aspen, CO, an easy way to increase space without increasing costs, owner Erik Larson says. Moving extra tiles to the facility’s parking lot in the summer and fall provides extra room for workouts without sacrificing members’ comfort or safety.
Larson extensively researched flooring for his gym to make sure his selections were practical and cost-efficient. While some CrossFit gyms opt for concrete, Aspen CrossFit features smooth rubber flooring. Textured flooring can be uncomfortable against skin and trap dirt, he says.
Aspen CrossFit also features two plywood sections that run the length of the gym. The wood floor offers a stable surface for heavy lifts while the rubber flooring protects the equipemtn and, more importantly, the members from harm.
“If somebody falls on that rubber, it’s going to provide some impact versus falling straight down onto concrete,” Larson says. “It’s going to provide that little extra bit of protection.”