High-Performance Flooring for Sports, Recreation, and Fitness Applications

[ Page 5 of 5 ]       
Sponsored by Ecore
By Kathy Price-Robinson

Case Studies

The following case studies illustrate how engineered performance flooring was specified to bring safety, ergonomic, and acoustic benefits to various sports, fitness, and recreation venues.

Case Study: COPA Athletic Training Facility

This case study illustrates an athletic application that features 11 different performance surfaces.

The 11,000-square-foot Comprehensive Objective Performance Assessment Soccer Training Center (known as COPA) was designed to analyze athletes from every angle to improve their cognitive, physical, and technical abilities. This elite soccer training center, which was built on the grounds of an old newspaper plant, is the latest addition to the Shadelands Sports Mall in Walnut Creek, California. CEO and Developer Mark Hall selected retired soccer player, fitness expert, and entertainer Andy McDermott to serve as COPA’s director of culture.

In his role, McDermott was tasked with overseeing many aspects of design and development of this state-of-the-art training center. The facility is the future home to a minor league professional soccer team in development and where many notable professional soccer athletes train. COPA uses data and analytics to take athletes of all ages to the next level. To do this, advanced methods are used, including pressure plates under the flooring to measure power and speed, biomechanical video analysis, dynamic movement skills, and other innovative technologies designed to enhance speed and performance.

Challenge

Retrofitting a multipurpose athletic facility into a building constructed more than four decades ago can be extremely daunting. The design challenges were compounded by the fact that COPA required numerous types of surfaces to support a variety of sports and fitness spaces. Eleven different surfaces were required.

Solutions

Following the recommendation of a strength and conditioning coach, McDermott chose a U.S.-based company for all 11 surfaces. Each area of the COPA Soccer Training Center had unique requirements in the areas of safety, ergonomics, and acoustics.

Double Speed Court

The Double SpeedCourt provides coaching and training on foundational running and movement techniques. This enhanced training requires a surface that provides comfort for body contact points, like elbows and knees. The engineered turf specified uses a patented technology to fusion bond a durable, textured polyethylene wear layer to a 5-millimeter vulcanized composition rubber backing, making it suitable for functional fitness environments like the Double SpeedCourt.

The COPA training center includes 11 different surfaces from the same U.S. athletic flooring manufacturer.

COPA Cube, Powergoal, Technique Studios, Mini Cube, and COPA Kids Jungle Field

A special high-pile turf was used in multiple areas of the COPA training center, including the COPA Cube. Designed by COPA Innovation Laboratories, this state-of-the-art space assesses a player’s ball control, passing ability, and decision-making. The turf was also specified in the Powergoal, Technique Studios, Mini Cube, and COPA Kids Jungle Field. The high-pile turf specified is a 37-millimeter system comprised of a 25-millimeter turf wear layer field united to a 12-millimeter VCR “shock pad” or underlayment (25 millimeters/12 millimeters). The thatch support system of this product eliminates the need for infill, making it ideal for indoor training turf.

Futsal Court, Spin Room, and Retail Spaces

COPA offers members 25,000 square feet of futsal courts, which are typically constructed from wood. COPA chose to use a more forgiving synthetic wood-grain vinyl surface that is fusion bonded to a 5-millimeter VCR backing. The result is flooring that looks like real wood but is more economical, durable, and easier to clean. This surface provides up to 60 percent force reduction for players’ safety and comfort. This surface was also installed in the spin room and retail spaces.

Indoor courts at the COPA training center look like real wood but are made out of vinyl with a VCR backing.

Indoor Turf Arena

Covering the indoor Turf Arena, a turf product was specified that offers a high pile that is quick and highly playable. This multipurpose field has the softness of grass in an indoor setting.

Weight Room

For the weight room between the circuit and sports performance areas is an advanced turf that features a dense, textured nylon wear layer fusion bonded through a patented technology to a vulcanized composition rubber backing. While too abrasive to fall or dive on, this consistent and tight surface is ideal for all footwork drills, battle ropes, sled work, and medicine balls.

Outdoor Track

Used for the COPA’s outdoor track is a wet-poured, one-layer, troweled-on-site rubberized surface system. It provides a high-quality sprinting track with optimum footing and is also appropriate for recreation and outdoor sports areas.

Weightlifting Area and Kids SpeedZone

Specified in the weightlifting area and COPA Kids SpeedZone is a rubber flooring custom made for extreme strength and conditioning. It is a 22.5-millimeter vulcanized composition rubber system that is then field united to a 12-millimeter underlayment in the field. The resulting system combines the durability and firm footing desired in strength training with the ergonomic demands of aggressive functional training in one surface. The flooring is both cushioning and sound absorbing. It was installed in five lifting rack areas with five lifting inlay platforms that seamlessly sport the COPA logo on the surface.

Speed Lab, Cardio Area, Indoor Track

In the Speed Lab, which was designed to teach and enhance running techniques and movement skills, a performance flooring was specified that is tailored for heavy conditioning. It is a 14.5-millimeter vulcanized composition rubber product with a 2.5-millimeter wear layer fusion bonded to a 12-millimeter shock-absorbing base layer to achieve a dynamic force reduction of 35.4 percent. This system is engineered to absorb the impact force related to aggressive functional training, providing an ergonomically advanced surface that works in concert with the body. It was also specified in the cardio area and indoor track.

The flooring in the COPA Speed Lab is comprised of two layers of VCR that are fusion bonded together.

Shower Area

The COPA shower area required a slip-resistant, waterproof surface. The flooring specified is engineered with slip-resistant particles and a raised emboss for added stability.

Locker Rooms and Whirlpool Area

Used in the locker rooms and whirlpool area, a safety flooring with optimal traction provides an enhanced coefficient of friction to prevent falls in traffic areas where slipping may occur.

Results

Within six weeks of opening, COPA enrolled more than 1,000 members and featured visits from the U.S. Women’s National Team’s soccer stars Alex Morgan, Julie Ertz, and Allie Long. In addition, the men’s U.S. Futsal National Team paid a visit for some practice sessions and found the playing surface to be considerably better than the traditional wood flooring they were accustomed to using.

According to McDermott, who helped lead the project from concept to completion: “Rehabbing an old building involved multiple stages of construction, which meant balancing timing and orders. The flooring manufacturer did a great job coordinating and working around a crazy construction schedule to get the job done right the first time.”

Acoustics were a big concern at the East Bank Club in Chicago because a professional coworking space and cycle studio are above the free-weight room.

Case Study: East Bank Club, Chicago

The East Bank Club in Chicago is more than 450,000 square feet of space and covers more than two full city blocks. The premier health facility offers a variety of amenities, including state-of-the art exercise facilities and dining options. Users expect a high level of functionality at the facility, and so when it was time to choose surfacing in its free-weight room, the specification was considered carefully.

Challenge

Acoustics were a big concern in this space, because the East Bank Club is a multistory environment. “We had some challenges with designing our new free-weight room when it came to acoustics,” says Gretchen Collins, director of fitness at East Bank Club. “Our professional coworking space and cycle studio are directly above the free-weight room, and we have professional office spaces on the other side of the hallway. We had to be mindful that dropping weight would not impact the areas above, so we were looking for a product that could dampen sound and vibration.”

Solution

The solution was an advanced athletic flooring comprised of a 10.5-millimeter engineered roll field united, using a proprietary bonding process, to a 12-millimeter underlayment. The result is a 22.5-millimeter vulcanized composition rubber engineered system that provides ergonomic, safety, and acoustic benefits. Regarding ergonomics, the flooring has a force reduction (absorption of impact energy) of 38.1 percent and an energy restitution (useful return of impact energy) of 53.5 percent. It a safe floor because it is slip resistant and protects lifters from rebounding bar and weight drops.

Results

When it comes to acoustics, the engineered rubber flooring is an ideal solution for weightlifting applications because the surface can manage the energy of the impact of the weights hitting the floor. The result is a quieter space.

“We tested a variety of products and found the product to be the best in regard to sound and vibration dampening,” Collins says. “We are extremely happy with the outcome of the space.”

A large expansion of the Louisville Recreation and Senior Center called for a number of athletic flooring specifications that blended together into a coordinated design scheme.

Case Study: Louisville Recreation and Senior Center

When a $28-million expansion of the Louisville Recreation and Senior Center was being planned, the choice of new flooring for various applications was a major point of discussion.

Built in 1990, the center is a public hub for seniors, preschoolers, and fitness enthusiasts. It is dedicated to supporting physical, mental, and social wellness for the city’s residents, including providing services for members ranging from 3 months old to more than 100 years old.

“Our motto is ‘There is something for everyone’,” says Kathy Martin, superintendent of recreation and senior care services. “We are one of the busiest recreation centers in Colorado, and our mission is to provide opportunities for social engagement that supports both physical and mental well-being.”

As the community grew, so did the need for more space and equipment. Following a feasibility study in 2016, a major construction project took place and was completed in 2019.

Renovations included the addition of a second floor with a weight room and expanded cardio areas, a second lap pool, a leisure pool, a splash pad, a daycare facility, and indoor turf field and playground.

Challenge

The recreation center’s renovations also called for a first-floor daycare center, but design plans situated the cardio area and weight room directly above the daycare. Due to this layout, the design required flooring with high sound-mitigation properties to make these fitness areas less intrusive to the toddlers and staff below.

Additionally, the expanded pool space needed flooring that was extremely slip resistant for lifeguards, guests, and members. In addition to meeting a variety of performance requirements, the flooring also needed to support way finding and the aesthetic vision of the design team.

“We had to be sure we satisfied the needs of the community while also adhering to performance and safety requirements,” says Miranda Dooley, interior designer III, Perkins and Will.

Solution

The massive expansion required a variety of surfaces with enhanced acoustic, slip-resistant, and low-maintenance properties. Having worked with the flooring manufacturer on previous construction projects, Perkins and Will specified the company’s flooring for the needs of the center.

In the weight room, an engineered rubber flooring was selected for its extreme durability and superior sound mitigation. The surface diminishes shock by absorbing the impact from weights being released onto it. The large installation of more than 1,200 linear feet of engineered rubber flooring required collaboration between the designers and the company.

Installed in the cardio area was a multilayer surface that features a proprietary technology that balances the distribution of force reduction and energy restitution, resulting in less impact on knees and joints of runners and walkers. Engineered rubber roles and tiles were used in areas such a hallways and circuit training zones that required a durable, affordable surface. Finally, a vinyl safety flooring engineered with slip-resistant particles and a raised embossment for added slip resistance was installed in the pool area.

Results

The newly renovated 103,000-square-foot recreation center serves as a centerpiece of the Louisville community, offering a wide range of amenities and activities. The lifeguard staff appreciates the high slip-resistant properties of the safety surface around the pool, in changing rooms, and in the pool party area.

In addition, cardio and weight areas with sound-mitigating properties are not disruptive to the preschool rooms below.

“I have no doubts in the performance of this flooring,” Dooley says. “The flooring company was able to mix the specifications we needed for a wide variety of activities while incorporating congruent finish options, making it look like one seamless application.”

Conclusion

As we have seen, flooring choices for sports, fitness, and recreation applications go way beyond price and color. The stakes are high in facilities where weights are lifted and dropped, where bodies are stressed to their limits, and where wellness is the goal. The COVID-19 pandemic made clear that physical wellness may be critical for survival, and the fitness and wellness industries are booming.

Architects, designers, project managers, and other specifiers need to be well-versed in the benefits that advanced performance flooring can bring in terms of safety, ergonomics, and acoustics. With the right flooring, everyone using the facility can be given their best chance to advance their own fitness with more safety, less bodily stress, and better acoustics. The flooring specification can make a world of difference.

End Notes

1Sports Equipment Market Analysis Report By Product (Ball Games, Ball Over Net Games, Fitness/Strength Equipment, Athletic Training Equipment), By Distribution Channel, And Segment Forecasts, 2018–2025.” Grand View Research. July 2018. Web. 7 April 2021.

2Safety Tips: Sports.” Safe Kids Worldwide. Web. 7 April 2021.

3Safety Tips: Falls.” Safe Kids Worldwide. Web. 7 April 2021.

Kathy Price-Robinson writes about building and design. Her remodeling series “Pardon Our Dust” ran 12 years in the Los Angeles Times. She specializes in buildings that are durable and resilient to climate disruptions, as well as products and designs that provide shade in hot climates. www.kathyprice.com

 

Ecore USA At Ecore, we are driven by this question: Can a floor do more? We believe the answer is YES! We are building our company and the products we offer based on the simple notion that floors should elevate beyond current expectations. We engineer performance well beyond industry standards related to acoustics, ergonomics, and safety.

 

[ Page 5 of 5 ]       
Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in May 2021


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