By Jeff Baldassari and Sean Jackson

Rubber Fitness flooring is the ideal solution for hotel fitness centers, school recreation facilities and other commercial gyms. It is durable and offers a wide array of customizable options. You can select from a rainbow of colors to showcase branding and make your space pop. If your supplier uses recycled rubber and operates with social benefit baked into its business model, your gym can even tell a sustainability story.

The array of options can be dizzying, though, even for an experienced specifier. Answering these common questions can help you decide how to make the best use of your space.

5 Essential Questions to Ask When Selecting Fitness Flooring

If your school, hotel or office building has sustainability goals, recycled rubber flooring is the best choice. U.S. Rubber’s product, for example, qualifies for up to six LEED points in two categories: Materials and Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality. Recycled rubber is also less expensive.

One potential downside to using recycled rubber is that it offers less homogeneity in color because not all waste-stream sources (such as truck tires) have a consistent color. Some sections of your flooring may appear lighter than others. Adding 10%-20% of colored fleck can trick the eye and cause shade variation to disappear.

Branding, ambiance and cost-effectiveness are the key considerations when deciding the color scheme for your gym flooring.

Using colorful flooring can convey brand personality and enhance mood and energy. If you want a space that really pops, you can increase the amount of color fleck from 10% up to 85%. The more color you use, though, the higher your cost will be. You don’t have to commit to full color coverage to achieve the desired effect. Consider bordering the edges of your gym’s exercise areas with a blend containing a high concentration of color flecks mixed with black. This will help your floors pop and indicate boundaries for areas intended for different uses.

If you prefer splashes of color across the entire floor, alternating stripes of high color blend and solid black can add energy to a space. You can also feature distinct high-color areas in the middle of your reception or workout areas to highlight a seal or logo.

Ask your supplier what other options it offers to help your fitness center stand out. For example, U.S. Rubber’s Big Chip® and Biggie Smallz® styles create drama using large color flecks, 2-3 times larger than regular size.

For commercial spaces, flooring specifiers often prefer rolled flooring, which unfurls into long sheets, because it offers the cleanest look with the fewest seams. Ask your supplier if it offers custom roll lengths to fit your space. Custom lengths minimize waste, saving you money on product and installation costs, since measuring every roll and cutting it to size takes time. For smaller fitness areas, non-interlocking tiles held together with adhesive produce the cleanest look.

The optimal flooring thickness depends on use. The more stress on the flooring, the thicker it should be. Typically, an area dedicated to stationary equipment (ellipticals and treadmills, for example), requires no more than 5/16 inches.

Dumbbell areas require thicker flooring. If your users are dropping 20- to 30-pound weights, 3/8 inches is ideal. Where heavier weights (50 pounds and above) are used, increase thickness to a half inch.

In addition, consider how the flooring will impact architectural features of the space, such as doorways. If your doorways leave only a half inch of space between the subfloor and the bottom of the door and you install half-inch fitness flooring, you’ll run into trouble. It may sound obvious, but these kinds of fitting challenges might create headaches down the line.

Ask your supplier if they recommend using a specific brand or type of adhesive with their flooring. This is important because rubber flooring does not easily adhere to all subfloors. If a corner detaches from the subfloor, it could cause a tripping hazard. Rolled flooring may try to keep its shape for some time after it’s been unfurled, so the adhesive bonding it to the subfloor must be strong enough to counteract this memory.

Your supplier may also recommend a different adhesive for facilities in locations where moisture may be a concern. In basements and in rainy or humid regions, the adhesive will have to act as a moisture barrier to prevent mold or mildew from growing between the subflooring and the installed rubber.

Your fitness center is a hub of activity. Each element of its design, including its flooring, should help tell a story about your brand while making good use of the space.

Jeff Baldassari is CEO and Sean Jackson is sales manager at U.S. Rubber in Colton, Calif. This sustainable rubber flooring manufacturer diverted over 15 million pounds of discarded tire rubber from local waste streams in 2021. It also grew its business 106% and its workforce 100% during the first two years of the pandemic, thanks to its Bounce Back! second-chance hiring program.