The degree of durability of a floor is not the most glamorous aspect of putting a gym together, but it can be one of the most important. Classic commercial gyms use high wear carpets or very thin rubber mats that are comfortable for walking on. These old-school gym floors were mainly designed to be scuff resistant and hold machines in place. The quality of the flooring was not required to withstand the sort of wear and tear that modern strength gyms, barbell clubs or CrossFit gyms put their floors and equipment through.
Lifting and dropping barbells, plates, kettlebells and having your body hit the floor with burpees, push ups and more, a floor has to be durable, easy to clean and safe. You want athletes to feel comfortable in your space, and the floor is the equipment they will use the most! The floor should also be comfortable to kneel down on and to stretch on, to make them as useful as possible. Mats with patterns on the main surface can be uncomfortable and require members to protect themselves with exercise mats for some high impact movements or stretching.
Most rubber flooring mats are made up of recycled crumb rubber. This is a combination of different rubber materials that are synthesized into a compound that absorbs and disperses high impact. This is one of the most important factors of high-quality flooring. A high-quality material that can absorb the impact of bumpers crashing down from six and seven feet in the air without sending it flying or damaging it is ideal.
Fine granular recycled rubber that has been compressed evenly, creating a consistent and high-density surface for multi-purpose use. A cheaper rubber would have larger granules, not be compacted evenly throughout the surface. This can lead to certain parts compressing over time. You will notice this in gyms with cheaper flooring materials on areas where weight stacks have been sitting for some time. You may also notice that in areas of high traffic the rubber has faded, crumbling apart. These are classic signs of poorly made rubber mats.
With a premium quality mat, the material is consistent in its density throughout the mat. That means that every part of it has the same density and contains the same absorption capacity. Weights bounce off the surface evenly and uniformly, making them reliable and safe for anyone to use. We have all been in gyms where someone drops a barbell with control yet it bounces left or right because the surface it is rebounding on is uneven and does not absorb the impact very well.
Each tile is 1m x 1m and weighs in at 13.5 kg. The lighter weight makes it easier to move around, transport and install. Our high-quality mats are 15mm (about 0.6 inches) thick. While most gym mats measure in at 9.5mm (3/8 inch) or 12.7mm (½ inch), 15mm mats are the thickest, premium-grade mats available.
Having installed and repaired gym floors several times, we can tell you that size does matter… Consistency in size and edging from one tile to the next helps with both the aesthetics and with the installation of the material. Lower priced products are often slightly different sizes. Tiles that are 2-3mm larger or smaller quickly adds up to gaps in the flooring. This can quickly lead to problems down the road when trying to fit the flooring in and measure out end pieces. It is extremely frustrating to have tiles cut unpredictably large or small because filling in a 2mm gap is almost impossible and looks unprofessional!
While most flooring for gyms is a simple black recycled tire, Premium mats are also available in a variety of colours. The colour is made of virgin rubber flecks, ranging from blue, green, red, orange, to beige and brown. This gives a distinct vibe to a gym looking to create a unique brand that stands out from typical box gyms.
The coloured layer of the mat is esthetically pleasing while the base layer is the shock absorbent layer. Imagine walking into your gym with the same colour scheme on the floor as your brand logo…
How you clean and maintain your mats can be the difference of 10 to 20 years of life. The mats should be vacuumed regularly to remove any bits of rubber, dust, etc. To remove chalk or other stains, the mats can be wiped with a wet mop using a gentle detergent like dish soap. Avoid using abrasives, or solvents like Lysol on the rubber as it can gradually cause it to break down over time.
Having a high quality, premium-grade rubber flooring mats for your gym may cost more at the onset, but they are designed to last a lifetime of heavy use, maintaining their size, density and colour.
Finally, if you’ve been thinking of building a gym and you’re in the market for rubber gym flooring, check out our selection of gym flooring and mats.
About the Author:
FD Bulsara, BSc is a competitive athlete in Olympic weightlifting and a student in Osteopathy. She coaches private and group fitness classes and writes freelance about her passions: fitness, health, sport, nutrition, weightlifting, CrossFit, injury prevention, pain relief, injury rehabilitation, and the latest research on all these topics! She is a dog person and spends free time training at the lake.