Flooring Takes Centerstage in Club Updates

As operators seek to refurbish and add pop to facilities, many are looking underfoot.

Since the inception of the pandemic, expenses related to sanitization and related needs have skyrocketed. Now that memberships are back in the 80% (and rising) territory of pre-COVID numbers, revenues are climbing.

In March, IHRSA CBI will include a piece about inexpensive, high-impact club design changes. As operators begin to address facility updates in the wake of the member resurgence, notes Rudy Fabiano, CEO of Fabiano Designs, in the article, they also have to consider increases in materials costs, labor shortages, supply chain challenges, and even inflation.

Yet, operators need to make these improvements, refreshing their facilities to appeal to current and prospective members. Given tight budgets and the many issues they face in deploying changes, club owners must also be discerning about any moves they make, making any decision with ROI in mind.

Facilities Flooring Takes Center Stage Ecore Floor Technology Limited Use Column

Flooring First

Among the easy changes operators can make, options like new paint, landscaping and exterior maintenance, lighting, etc., might seem obvious, but, Fabiano says, it makes sense to put certain shifts that have the most impact at the top of your list. Programming should drive any update.

In that case, he adds, 90% of your members spend their time on the workout floor. As a result, what we’re seeing is added space for functional training and other trends, which means flooring is on the uptick.

Looking forward, it does appear that the flooring market will only continue to grow. According to the Sports Flooring Market, U.S. Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast, 2021-2031 report, in 2020, the U.S. sports flooring market was valued at US$ 3.1 billion. By 2031, it’s projected to be valued at US$ 5.8 billion, expanding at a CAGR of 6% during the forecast period.

“Right now,” says Bo Barber, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Ecore International, “we’re definitely seeing increased investment in flooring, but it is cautious and calculated. While most operators are open, they are still experiencing conditions that are less than normal. That said, they seem to be focused on the engagement of their patrons and on their health and wellness, so they’re putting their dollars where it makes the most sense and does the most good. So, we’re seeing demand rise across several areas.

“We’re experiencing a surge in flooring for functional and pure strength training, from our Performance collection to our new range of turf products,” he continues. “Weightlifting continues to grow across all demographics. With that comes a higher demand for flooring that takes into account both durability and acoustical considerations. Flooring demand is also growing beyond the workout floor. We’re experiencing an increased need for performance surfaces for all types of therapy, including physical, massage, and hydro. Operators are also investing in higher performance safety and sanitary flooring in locker and bathrooms, like our HydroGrip.”

Given the general trend toward functional fitness and the need for socially distanced-driven personal space, Ecore has also been working with facilities to outfit outdoor spaces, which presents a distinct set of challenges.

Facilities Flooring Takes Center Stage Ecore Grass Turf Limited Use Column

“In a sense,” Barber says, “the surface is the equipment, and it needs to work in concert with bodies in motion, creating a safe, ergonomic, and acoustically desirable environment that has the durability to withstand changes in weather and temperature.”

Surfaces That Do More

Ecore addresses those multiple needs by creating a wide range of surfaces—what Barber calls “fit floors with muscular structures”—tailored to the specific needs of each application.

As the flooring market continues to heat up, Ecore is finding the demand for turf surfaces, in particular, is exploding.

“While we create a range of turf solutions, from sled lanes all the way to competitive fields, we’re seeing an evolution in performance expectations for turf,” Barber says. “Operators are realizing that people are using turf surfaces for a myriad of previously unintended activities. They’re migrating everything from slam balls and kettlebells to box jumps and barbells.”

To meet those expectations, Ecore builds turf systems with the same durable, vulcanized composition rubber-base layers as its traditional strength floors. The company offers multiple systems like its RageTurf for footwork drills and sled work; FlexTurf safe, ergonomic training surface for indoor or outdoor use; and FierceTurf, which provides a safe playing field that mitigates the chance of injury from repeated and forceful impacts.

Each is a non-infill system, which means that its fibers stand, providing resistance and durability. The benefit is that the force reduction and energy restitution critical to safety, ergonomics, and acoustics are retained, while maintenance associated with rubber granules moving around your facility is avoided.

In addition to offering surfaces for virtually any sport or fitness flooring need, Ecore addresses market factors. While supply chain and shipping issues have slowed production across the nation, the manufacturer neatly sidesteps the problem.

Facilities Flooring Takes Center Stage Ecore Performance Collection Limited Use Column

“We’re U.S.-based—in Pennsylvania—and have been for more than 150 years,” Barber says. “It gives us an advantage in terms of the supply chain and offers a clear advantage in being able to service our customers quickly and efficiently. Our process also gives us an edge in both production and as a sustainable company. We’re vertically integrated, starting with the reclamation of the rubber waste that powers our performance. By diverting waste from landfills and incineration, we’ve built a ‘circular model’ that benefits people and the planet and offers consistent access to the materials we need to create our products.”

To learn more about all the flooring surfaces Ecore International offers, visit their website.


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Jon Feld

Jon Feld is a contributor to HealthandFitness.org.