22 Sep 2023 World leisure: news, training & property
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Health Club Management
2023 issue 2

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Leisure Management - Designs on flooring


Designs on flooring

Designers share their insights into making critical flooring choices for health clubs, gyms and studios

Sparc Studio was responsible for designing the gym at South Lodge photo: SPARC STUDIO / South Lodge Spa / Amy-Murrell

Beverley Bayes
Sparc Studio

Flooring is often one of the biggest components of a scheme and can have a dramatic impact on how a space looks and how users engage with it. Floor finishes can add personality and character to large open areas and help to delineate or zone spaces.

Certain types can help add warmth and a homely touch, inset rugs and textured floors can add that little extra layer of luxury and the use of timber flooring is always a simple way of adding a natural, warm aesthetic, as timber floors are available in so many patterns and formats.

A heavy duty commercial quality engineered timber floor with a good wear layer – if well maintained – will last for years, improve with age and if necessary can be sanded down and resealed and refreshed in the future.

Lighting can change the appearance of a floor finish and reflects differently off hard and soft surfaces. Using a dark floor finish can create the illusion of lowering the ceiling/bringing the ceiling down. A clever combination of floor finishes can also elevate the space and create the illusion of raising the ceiling.

When planning the layout, we always think about how the natural light illuminates the space and if a connection to the outside can be part of the design. We then use the same floor finish inside and outside to create a seamless transition.

Key considerations when purchasing

Floor finishes come in numerous thicknesses so it’s vital that where they meet the junctions have been carefully considered, ideally to achieve seamless, level thresholds.

When specifying flooring we’re always thinking about the end use and how we can create a feeling of quality, the ability to easily keep the floors clean and safe and minimise operational issues.

Wet, poolside areas, changing areas, fitness gym and studio areas, reception and arrival spaces and spa and wellness facilities all require different considerations and flooring types.

In wet areas such as pools and showers, getting the right balance between slip resistance and cleanability is essential. For these areas we often specify large format porcelain tiles that are not too textured but still achieve the requisite, barefoot anti-slip rating. In wet areas, tiles are often combined with underfloor heating which makes them dry, warm and comfortable for barefoot users.

The use of large format tiles helps to minimise the number of grout lines and consequent cleaning and maintenance. We’re currently seeing a move away from the use of small format floor tiles (such as mosaics where there is a lot of grout) towards the use of micro cement and resin floors made from natural biopolymers.

Particular care has to be taken when designing wet spaces to ensure there’s no water ponding; this can be avoided with the correct angle, direction and gradient of falls to floor drainage gullies.

In fitness studios we often recommend a sprung flooring system like Boen Sports grey oak floor which has a very natural feel to it, unlike the usual polished oak finish that’s ubiquitous in many sports clubs. Sprung sports floors are specifically designed to reduce impact and injury and are an ideal choice for multiple high- and low-impact activity classes.

Flooring for free weights areas

In free weight areas consideration is always given to impact, heavy equipment and reverberation. A quality specialist rubberised/rubber crumb system is often the best solution and these are available in a multitude of thicknesses with many different underlay options which can be tailored to suit specific environments. With this type of floor logos and graphics can also be embedded into the floors to create a dynamic branded look.

In fitness studios we often recommend a sprung flooring system to reduce impact and injury
Rudy Fabiano
Fabiano Designs
Photo: © Julia Chang Photography

Fundamentally, when it comes to flooring, performance is first, aesthetics are second. Some operators would say price is first, but that’s shortsighted; the floor will be there for a long time so make sure you do it right.

In addition to delivering aesthetically and in terms of the member experience, space should also be considered as a piece of ‘machinery’, where performance is critical to the member’s success. In the same way you choose the right strength equipment for your market, the performance of the flooring for each activity makes an enormous difference.

Obviously, what’s needed in a studio will differ immensely from a free weight rubber floor, or that of a basketball court where the correct bounce or cushion can help avoid injury.

Common areas and locker room that may be wet, so specifying a floor with the correct Dynamic Coefficient of Friction is important to prevent slips and falls.

The correct Dynamic Coefficient of Friction is important to prevent slips and falls
Rudy Fabiano works on Gold’s Gym / Photo: golds gym-northridge/ Fabiano designs
Bruce Carter
Optimal Design Systems
Photo: Optimal design systems

There are great new flooring options available today, including much better functional and decorative colour choices.

LVT – luxury vinyl tile – is cost-effective and durable and available in beautiful designs. It can be used in lobbies and also in cardio and exercise machine areas, but free weights should have at least a 14.5 mm thickness of flooring.

Turf is in demand – consider adding markings to the area depending on your programming needs. Group exercise areas benefit greatly from sport vinyl absorbent flooring.

Turf is in demand by members – consider adding markings and a logo
Optimal Design Systems works for Palm Beach Sports Clubs / Photo: Optimal design systems
John Halls
Physical Company
Photo: Physical company / NELSON PHOTOS
What flooring features make workouts more enjoyable?

Flooring is the foundation of every great workout. One excellent example is floor markings, which can be incorporated at the point of manufacture: woven into turf or inlaid into rubber flooring. Some gyms use this for branding, but we’ve also done some fantastic projects where technical markings have been designed into the floor to aid programming and cueing to enhance the workout experience

Can flooring create more sustainable gyms

We work with market leaders when it comes to eco-friendly flooring. Polyflor’s Expona range is 100 per cent recyclable, for example – this is the wood-effect vinyl flooring you find in group exercise studios – while Ecore is exceptional in this field, manufacturing its rubber flooring solutions from recycled truck tyres. The whole process takes place at its factory – breaking down the tyres into rubber granules and using different glues to create various types of upcycled flooring.

There’s more information on the Ecore website and it’s worth a read: www.ecoreintl.com/sustainability.

What are your tips for creating a trip free floor?

Strength and conditioning areas are popular in gyms, but historically they’ve been a trip hazard – specifically, lifting platforms with steel frames that people can trip over. Now, with Ecore’s thicker rolled rubber solutions we’re able to cut in the drop zones of lifting platforms so they’re flush to the floor. This removes the trip hazard while maximising floor space, with around 4sq m of safe workout floor gained around every platform, making the area more multi-use.

Elaborate floor markings add variety / Photo: Physical company
Scott Lamber
Jordan Fitness
Photo: Jordan
Can flooring make workouts fun?

Our top tips would be: add markings around a rig to set-up stations or add a custom-colour sprint track to make better use of low traffic areas, boost your branding and give your members another functional area to play in.

Can flooring be eco-friendly?

Every gym is different. We talk through each area and touch on long-term plans for the space, to develop the best solution. For example, our Activ Interlocking Flooring is a moveable solution that doesn’t need to be glued and can be removed if expansion or relocation is on the cards.

Adding to our sustainable design, all our flooring is made from Reach-accredited recycled rubber.

What’s the best way to create a safe floor?

We’d advise every gym owner to try and use rubber flooring throughout and integrate everything as much as possible for a seamless gym floor.

Through our install service we can help to achieve this by offering solutions such as dropping in lifting platforms instead of sitting them on top of flooring, utilising edging to add thicker flooring options to key areas, cutting sprint tracks into your floor, and taking advantage of cut-in coloured tiles for HIIT training zones.

Jordan can deliver a one-level gym floor / Photo: Jordan

Originally published in Health Club Management 2023 issue 2

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