Bad Vibrations: Why You Need to Protect Your Gym from Excessive Noise

A noisy gym can detract from the member experience and, ultimately, your business. Choosing the right type of flooring can help.

We live in an age of distraction and noise—and it’s getting worse. Escaping technology’s clamorous demands is one of the reasons why meditation and mindfulness have become popular goals with everyday people.

Mindfulness can be elusive in a gym environment—and that’s a problem. A health club accommodating today’s exercise trends is no refuge from noise pollution. Crashing weights, blaring group-dance soundtracks, screaming trainers, kettlebells slamming to the ground: It all adds up to an aural onslaught that affects the club environment in negative ways.

It’s also unhealthy to members and staff, which is the exact opposite result a health club is supposed to deliver. One study published in the International Journal of Audiology found that many gymgoers turned up their earbud volume so loud to block out background noise that they risked damage to their hearing. Excessive noise can also increase hypertension, worsen sleep problems, harm cardiovascular health, and, of course, damage ears. Dropping a single 45-pound kettlebell can reach noise levels of 80 decibels. Experts say that continued exposure to noise at or above 80-85 decibels over time can cause hearing loss. Some spinning classes have music blaring at levels above 110 decibels.

Noise is only one of the problems. Structure-borne vibrations strong enough to shake walls and make floors tremble can be a major disruption for clubgoers and neighbors. It’s an even more serious problem if your club is in a multi-use building. Other occupants, whether they’re businesses or residents, won’t put up with the disturbances of an excessively noisy gym for long. In fact, lawsuits against health clubs, CrossFit boxes, and boutique facilities are increasing. A few New York facilities have been chased out of their buildings or faced excessive fines. Relocating a club for any reason can kill your business. You want to remain a good neighbor.

You also don’t want to continually replace damaged floors, another consequence of today’s fitness trends. Heavy barbell exercises (e.g. squats and deadlifts), bodyweight training (e.g., burpees, jump rope, gymnastics, martial arts), medicine balls slammed to the ground—the cumulative effect can create tears and punctures in flooring that can be a liability hazard. Regular investments in replacing floor tiles can add up quickly.

You Only Control So Much

Even as a club owner, you have only so much control over your environment. While many clubs have strict rules about dropping weights and shouting, a room full of people exercising is still going to create a high-decibel environment.

Noise experts suggest reinforcing walls and doors, including adding door seal kits to block out sound. But few club owners are in a position to reinforce structural mass in any meaningful way. Even low frequency vibration can be transmitted through the rigid structure of a building to noise-sensitive areas through slabs, walls, columns, and any other rigid elements.

But the reality is that most of the impact of club members and equipment occurs on the floor, and inadequate flooring is the cause of most noise and disruption from structure-borne vibration. Upgrading your flooring is the best option for reducing excessive noise.

The Solution to Bad Vibrations

To get your club off shaky ground and into a calmer, quieter environment, you need to choose a flooring company with a track record, one who specializes in health clubs. Few have the pedigree of RegupolAmerica. RegupolAmerica has the benefit of over 60 years of experience producing innovations in rubber-based products, and they’ve developed numerous technological advances in flooring for the fitness industry. Their latest and perhaps greatest creation is the Regupol AkustiPro line.

The toughest of the lot is the Regupol AkustiPro 80: a modular flooring engineered to provide enhanced shock-absorption and structure-borne sound isolation. AkustiPro 80 is ideal for fitness facilities that have a lot of members engaged in Olympic weightlifting, strength training, and group cardio sessions. Its interlocking dowel tile system makes it easy to install into any size space, and it includes high-damping components for outstanding vibration isolation. This flooring was shown to reduce the noise of that crashing 45-pound kettlebell from the 80-decibel level to about 25 decibels.

AkustiPro line is one of many flooring options that RegupolAmerica offers for health clubs and fitness centers of all types and sizes. The company is Green Circled Certified in Sustainable Manufacturing and Recycled Content, and participates in the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program. They provide a 10-year guarantee with each purchase, and offer almost two dozen color schemes and designs, so you don’t sacrifice looks for enhanced function.

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

Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org