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It’s nearing the end of the year and it’s time for many of the fitness experts to prognosticate what will be popular in fitness for the coming years. In light of that, we’ve identified some fitness flooring trends that, while innovative in their own right, shouldn’t be likely candidates for your club next year:
ABS Glass Floors
ABS Glass Floors were developed in Europe and were created for rooms that have a number of court sports played in them throughout the course of the day. They utilize a lighting system under the floor that, when turned on, light up lines in the floor for any sport that you may want. Pro-style basketball lines in the morning, volleyball lines in the afternoon, Little League basketball lines at night — whatever you need, with the flip of a switch.
This eliminates the dizzying number of lines that may be painted on a gym floor, which are confusing and distracting to players, fans and referees. The specially manufactured glass panels are also extremely durable and the floors have been constructed in such a way that resilience, ball bounce and even traction meet international safety standards.
No doubt, it’s an ingenious system, but the problem seems to be its exorbitantly high price. Being able to change game lines at the flip of a switch is an intriguing concept, but is it really such a large problem that people are willing to pay the price for the novelty of it?
Click-Install Dance Floors
Recently, a large lumber wholesaler has introduced a shock-absorbing foam that they are marketing as suitable for dance and fitness flooring, when installed under any click-lock hardwood flooring. This is really not a new concept, but it is being marketed as if it is, and it is very inexpensive. Really, any sports flooring company can sell you an underlayment foam that is appropriate for fitness. The issue seems to be the click-lock hardwood above it. When you have that much shock-absorbing foam underneath the floor, this often causes the click-lock wood to separate and, in a worst-case scenario, crack.
We’ve looked at trying the click-lock system ourselves a number of times but each time, we have found it to be inadequate for use in a commercial health club. I don’t doubt that in a workout room within a residence, it might work well, but we haven’t seen it being practical in a fitness club environment.
Thick Rubber Floors for Group X
Using thick rubber for Group X seems to make some sense, since this kind of rubber (1” or more) has a lot of the properties we’re looking for. It has great shock absorption and resilience, is easy to maintain and most times, comes in modular tiles that can be pretty easily moved in and out.
The only problem is the traction coefficient. Sliding a rubber-soled shoe across a rubber tile is hard to do because of the high friction of the movement, which can easily cause ankle roll-overs. Now, I understand some manufacturers are looking at coatings that will give the tiles the proper traction coefficient, but these projects are in their infancy, and the question becomes, “How durable will this coating be, and how often it will have to be applied?”
The trend of small group training seems to be ongoing, so we will continue to see an increased demand for indoor turf. Free weight areas and those small group training areas that use kettlebells and high-speed dumbbell reps will continue to need a thick rubber flooring to protect both the equipment and the subfloor. Group X will continue to use traditional hardwood surfaces, but more floors will be from rapidly renewable sources, such as bamboo — the look of which will become more varied as more types of material becomes available from producing countries. Also, there will be more types of dense foam floors that are available for group exercise, which somewhat mimic the look of real wood and are especially adaptable for uses like hot yoga.
Steve Chase is the General Manager of Fitness Flooring. He can be contacted at 800.428.5306 or by e-mail at Steve@fitnessfloors.com.