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Are Noise & Vibration Harming Your Gym’s Bottom Line?

The right flooring puts your health club on solid ground. Here’s why it’s critical for brand equity and customer experience.

It seems an afterthought to many club owners, but the flooring in your gym has never played a larger role in branding and customer experience. The HIIT and functional training (FT) revolution has changed the club experience, drawing in a larger, more diverse membership, but your floors and ambience are paying a price for these kettlebells, barbells, medicine balls slamming against your floors.

These kinetic forces have forced many club owners to rethink their design. Under the edict of “form follows function,” as coined by legendary architect Louis H. Sullivan, your environment needs to adhere to certain unavoidable truths. For club owners, that amounts to stronger flooring that absorbs more impact and limits noise and vibration, while still creating an aesthetic that conforms to the image your brand represents.

Of course, you wouldn’t have the same flooring and interior aesthetics in a yoga studio as you would a CrossFit box. But even multipurpose clubs and fitness-only facilities have their own identity, and these brand distinctions are important. In a competitive marketplace, design and ambience matter. It’s not only important for creating an atmosphere appealing to prospects, it’s important for the ongoing member lifecycle and overall customer experience.

Facilities crossfit area stock column

While this principle is often applied to durable products (e.g., the “aesthetic fidelity effect”), it’s also applied to ambience, color schemes, acoustics, and environmental soundscapes. From the customer experience this is known as “service atmosphere.”

Researchers looked at the effect of service atmosphere on customer loyalty in the hospitality industry, a sector that shares similarities with the health club industry. They found that “interior elements such as illumination and decoration have a positive influence on customers’ psychology and it would be a good idea for managements to consult specialists on this issue.”

This also applies to flooring. You don’t just have to keep acoustics, durability, and vibration control in mind. Your flooring has to be consistent with the color palette and aesthetics of the rest of your club. With brand identity so important these days, you need to stay consistent and on message.

Avoiding the ‘Crazy Quilt’ Situation

An added complication these days for club owners is the design and space considerations for group X and small group training (SGT). In the past, clubs had a separate room with hardwood floors that was considered the “aerobics” room. With the proliferation of group concepts, you need more than a space with hard floors for a small selection of classes.

This is evident in the increase in spaces reserved for FT in some clubs, as reported in this article in Club Business International. This is the “boutique studio within a club” concept that’s fast becoming commonplace in mainstream clubs. Sometimes these spaces are branded separately, sometimes not.

Many of these designated studio-style spaces have different flooring demands than the rest of your club. Usually these group training sessions are FT, HIIT, bootcamp, or other high-intensity workout that punishes the floor and creates more noise than your cardio or resistance machines. Much like the free weight area and squat racks, you need thicker, more resilient flooring than other areas of the club.

What you don’t want is to only satisfy the function aspect of your flooring. You don’t want a club that has a checkerboard of clashing colors. When a member walks into a club, they don’t want to be met with a crazy quilt of different flooring that makes the club look slapdash and amateurish.

Acoustics and color schemes are not only important for aesthetic satisfaction, they’re a factor in health outcomes. One mega-study titled, “Associations between Positive Health-Related Effects and Soundscapes Perceptual Constructs: A Systematic Review,” concluded: “Better self-reported health-related conditions were always associated with reduced noise annoyance.”

Before you choose your flooring, you need to ask these questions:

  • What type of space are you looking to create in terms of usage/application, functionality, design, etc.?
  • Are there design and brand standards that need to be met in terms of the customization of the color of the floor?
  • Are there noise and vibration concerns regarding your neighbors (if you’re in a strip mall or a building with other businesses) and in relationship to your own club’s interior ambience?

You’re a club owner—you’re not an expert in the differences between rubber, turf, vinyl, or other flooring technology. In the field of sonic architecture, you need experts—suppliers who understand the health club industry and the changing demands of acoustic engineering brought on by today’s fitness trends. And you need a supplier with options, so you’ll avoid crazy quilts and match function with form.

Putting Your Club on Solid Ground

Since 2008, REGUPOL has been providing flooring solutions to a wide range of health clubs and sports facilities. The key word here is “solutions.” REGUPOL puts the highest priority on collaborating with industry architects, designers, and club owners in creating the perfect flooring solution for acoustics, aesthetics, and durability.

REGUPOL has roots that go back over six decades in creating impregnable commercial and consumer products all over the world. REGUPOL is laser-focused on keeping up with today’s fitness trends and delivering advanced products for the health club of the 2020s.

“Our vision was to transform our color palette to meet the needs of the ever-changing fitness market,” says Matthew Montano, sales manager for the Sports Division of REGUPOL. “It’s given club owners greater flexibility on color offerings, all the while still being affordable.”

Montano says that REGUPOL’s product experts worked closely with designers across their five product lines—Aktiv, AktivLok, AktivPro Tile, AkustiPro (their acoustic and vibration flooring line), and AktivPro Roll—to assess the color trends within the market to provide valuable insight on what owners were looking for within their spaces.

Facilities Regupol flooring squat rack column

In addition to the updated color palette, the company has launched Regupol AktivPlus, which is a half-inch robust rubber flooring surface that provides superior shock absorption and offers better protection to members, equipment, and the concrete beneath. This line boasts many new color offerings not found within the five product lines above.

“The sweet spot of the AktivPlus is that it provides superior performance for higher impact areas within clubs while having a budget-friendly price tag,” says Montano.

Sonic architecture, ambience, acoustics, vibrations, aesthetics—these elements are critical to your brand. With REGUPOL, you’ll have experts with deep experience in providing flooring solutions to fitness facilities of all types. Make sure your club is on a solid foundation, literally.

For more information or to speak to a sales rep, visit REGUPOL.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org