Specialist Flooring: Gyms, Leisure Centres and Sports Facilities
Question: What is the most used part of a gym? Is it the Cardio Machines? Treadmills? Dumbbells? You may (or may not) be surprised to know that the most utilised ...and underappreciated...part of gyms, leisure centres and fitness studios is in fact the floor! If you have ever frequented a gym you’ve probably never thought about the floor itself, and yet it is the one piece of ‘equipment’ that is used in more exercises than any other and has a huge impact on the experience of gym-goers, and on the exercise experience itself. An effective and appropriate floor is arguably the most important part of a gym, particularly when you consider that gym flooring takes a beating not just from its members but also from the equipment itself.
Fitting flooring can be quite a work-out at times so who better than the experts at Hamilton Flooring to discuss distinct and exceptional gym and leisure facility flooring! Hamilton Flooring provides specialist services for high-quality sports and fitness surfaces for use in commercial spaces such as gyms, health clubs, leisure centres and any other space looking for a durable, stylish flooring solution. Our specialist flooring provides low maintenance, extremely hard-wearing, all-purpose flooring to address a range of needs. You can see from the below image how thick, heavy duty rubber matting has been used by Hamilton Flooring in the racks/functional training zone of this gym to create a utilitarian, highly resistant work-out space.
The leisure industry is big business in the UK, and 2019 is seeing a resurgence in the popularity of gyms and fitness studios. The 2019 State of UK Fitness Industry Report details the growth of the market, showing that in the United Kingdom 1 in every 7 people is a member of a gym. Total UK membership grew by 4.7% on last years figures with 10.4 Million members, the industry is worth more than £5billion for the first time! Not only has membership increased but also the number of facilities. It is reported that there has been an increase of 2.9% representing around 215 new fitness facilities across the UK. That is a lot of flooring!
Our team of expert flooring professionals have been flexing their floor-laying muscles with some impressive projects in gyms, and other sports based locations, over recent months and have seen first hand the impact that new flooring can have on existing spaces, and how custom designs can enhance the branding and concepts of a company. With fitness and wellbeing growing in demand and the variety of services expanding, it is key to ensure that the flooring needs of each area in a fitness space be accounted for.
Fitness trends in 2019 reflect this growth in diversity, in that studio and group workouts are more popular than ever. This is especially true for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Programmes and Hybrids. One such programme, F45, is taking the UK fitness world by storm! Featuring HIIT classics mixed with Crossfit (a huge trend over the past couple of years) it is 45 minutes of fitness chaos using equipment and bodyweight - it’s almost as much a workout for the flooring as for the crossfitters! We might stick with the floor laying in this instance! Weight training in general has left behind the image of the classic bodybuilders/weightlifters such as; the undeniable Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mr. Symmetry himself- Shawn Ray, and 80-time world record holder Vasiliy Ivanovich Alekseyev, ushering a new,more accessible image.
Weight training in its many forms has become a staple across both men’s and women’s fitness meaning that many gyms are expanding their weight sections and even adding specific areas for different types of weight training. The choice of flooring in an area with weights is really important for safety, noise, and vibration reduction, and must consider the traction required for such an activity. Additionally, Many choose to delineate the specific zones of the gym to enhance the user experience and allow for navigational ease, which is well achieved through distinctive flooring design. The below image demonstrates how using different flooring types can separate out areas like weights and cardio whilst ensuring the best flooring is used for the activity's needs.
Treadmills have made a major comeback in 2019! Gym chain ClassPass reports an 82% increase in attendance to classes which use treadmills (yes - apparently thats a thing!) and in the US, Treadmill workouts are becoming more popular than Cycling workouts and Yoga! Treadmills in modern fitness centres are far removed from the thunderous beasts of the past decades, but yet they still produce significant impact and noise which can be addressed through careful flooring selections.
Yoga remains popular both at gyms, fitness centres and in specialist Yoga studios, with western variations becoming just as prominent as their ancient eastern practices - Goat Yoga anyone?! Goats aside, Yoga practice is reliant on a grounding with the surface beneath you so ensuring a calm design, smooth and durable surface to allow for many years of sun salutations and downward dogs is key when designing studio spaces which are used for yoga, pilates and floor-based exercises.
A persisting trend lies in the popularity of group dance classes. The likes of Zumba® and Bokwa® have not yet had their heyday with new forms and releases keeping them at the top of their game. The fitness world is seeing more global influence through crazes such as BollyX, SH’BAM™ and KaribFIT™, which draw on cultural dance styles mixed with high energy cardio aspects. I’m tired just thinking about it! With studio space which hosts dance classes there is often a dual use with classes such as BODYPUMP™, Kettlercise® and other high energy workouts. Flooring in these areas needs to be easily maintained, impact absorbing and highly durable.
With hundreds of varieties of classes and exercise styles available, the options are endless for the fitness fans in the UK. It is not just in designated work-out spaces that specialist flooring should be considered. Common areas such as receptions, changing rooms and cafes can also benefit. In the UK many leisure centres have late opening times and there are numerous gyms and fitness centres which offer 24hour access to their facilities, meaning more and more people have access to health and fitness options. Heres an example from a recent project by Hamilton Flooring:
All of this amounts to a great deal of wear on the average floor, particularly when you consider the popularity of weights which are often dropped on the floor from a height, as well as the friction and abrasion that comes from dance classes and HIIT. It is key that flooring in sports and fitness spaces needs to be strong and durable whilst being able to support heavy machinery and equipment. Furthermore, a quality floor provides impact shock absorption which is important as this cushions joints, tendons and muscles and reduces the chance of injury. In the same line of thinking, it is crucial to contemplate how your choice of flooring provides grip...just enough for traction but not so much that natural movement is hindered for the gym-goers. Sufficient grip is an imperative for the safety of all as it not only helps prevent injury but also prevents unintentional machinery and equipment movement. No-one wants an Indiana Jones moment with a medicine ball chasing you down the cardio aisles!
Flooring can make a strong impression, and design doesn’t need to take a backseat to functionality when it comes to the choices available for your sports and fitness locations. Walking into a gym, you want to feel like you’re in a place that cares as much about the way IT looks and feels, as you care about how YOU look and feel! Flooring can make a bold statement or promote the company through custom designs and bespoke motifs. As an example, Hamilton Flooring custom created the runner below:
An important aspect we should highlight is hygiene. Ultimately, gyms and leisure centres are a place of sweat and grind - take into account floor exercises and gravity and there’s a recipe for disaster. Not only does sweat provide a slippery surface (not to mention odour) but the minerals found in sweat can also damage the surface of the floor over time. Therefore having an easily maintained floor is of great benefit both to the longevity of the flooring but also to the comfort of those using the space.
Speaking of comfort, thickness is an aspect of both a pleasant user-experience and safety which should be considered when choosing your fitness flooring. Generally speaking, the thicker the better because strength and toughness increases with thickness. As a rough indication the following can be used as a thickness guide - though for exact specifications contact your Hamilton Flooring specialist for an expert recommendation for your site. Considering some of the most common gym ‘zones’ we can consider the following thickness parameters:
Cross training - minimum 15mm
Weights & rack areas: minimum 40mm
Functional training: minimum 10mm
Plate load or cardio areas: 6-12mm
Rig areas: at least 25mm
Density is also a key aspect of your flooring characteristics, good quality material and high density make for the most resistant and durable surfaces. For rubber matting, for example, a density of at least 900 kg/m³ should be employed.
Health and fitness suites, gyms, leisure centres and other such buildings need not be sterile environments with no personality - these spaces can easily be transformed with a simple change of flooring! So whatever the activity, Hamilton Flooring can provide the most stylish and effective solution. So whether you prioritise acoustically-engineered shock pads to reduce the transference of impact and vibration for HIIT classes and machine areas, or thick comfortable surfaces with a highly elegant finish for yoga studios or even if you need super durable solutions for a weight-training gym with thousands of pounds of cast iron be flung around. Hamilton flooring has (to misquote Liam Neeson) - a very particular set of skills, skills they have acquired over a very long career, skills that make them a nightmare for misbehaving flooring and unruly floor plans!