As a club owner that has built over nine gyms, I can make knowing what flooring is best for your Group X rooms easy for you. Save yourself the headache and stick with a traditional suspended real hard wood floor. In my career I have looked and tried many options, usually in the hope of saving money. However, this is not an area to save money in. If group fitness is servicing 25 percent or more of your members regularly, everyone will be much happier and safer if you stick to tradition.
You can go with bamboo in your mind/body studios and it looks beautiful, but I would vote against it for your main group fitness floor due to the fact that it is not suspended and the equipment we use these days in group fitness doesn’t work well with bamboo over time. I have seen bamboo hold up fairly well, but without suspension you are not giving an optimal floor to your members and instructors.
All of the other flooring out there can work but it is not my first choice. Many problems I have experienced include seams separating, floor lifting, unevenness, and buckling. There are some great products out there but for heavy usage and the equipment that we use in group fitness, you will be better off with hard wood flooring.
I have seen many facilities that use carpeting. If considering carpeting, refrain from it if you live in a humid geographical area. It will be impossible to keep it dry and will smell terrible. Also, if using carpet, your room needs to have high ceilings and a lot of air circulating, not humid air-conditioned air. Dry geographical areas that don’t get too hot can work with carpet but members don’t like it very much due to increased potential of twisting knees and ankles. Some of the leaders of group fitness in our industry, all overseas, use carpet very successfully but their rooms are very large and airy. It is not much of a consideration in the U.S. though.
Finally, have your floor professionally installed and guaranteed!
Lori Lowell is the President of Group Fitness Solutions, LLC, and owns 8 Fitness Facilities in Virginia and Wisconsin. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.