Feature Article - April 2020
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What's Under Foot?

Making Smart Sports & Fitness Flooring Choices

By Joe Bush


Long's facility is 85,000 square feet she said, and is "part fitness/rec center, part events center, part community center, part study hall."

"We want a surface that can accommodate different types of sporting or fitness activities as well as special events, where people might wear high heels or have food," she said. "The need to evolve and remain versatile is at an all-time high."

Long said the center also needs surfaces that help maximize its square footage through the differences in appearance and feel, meaning the surfaces drive behavior, such as where weight lifting takes place, or where folks use fitness equipment.

"Our facility has lots of lounge space, and specific areas for wellness," said Long. "We need to be able to distinguish the areas where dynamic and loud activity takes place and the areas where quiet activity takes place."

Finally, the surfaces must be easy to clean.

"Cleaning sports surfaces is always challenging," she said. "Some surfaces look dirty again moments after scrubbing. We look for surfaces that maintain the aesthetic of our facility and allow us to perform deep cleaning and disinfecting on a regular basis."

Bill Callender, associate director of recreation services for Oregon State University, also stresses maintenance and cleanliness when discussing surfaces. Among the three facilities he oversees that use sports surfacing are tennis courts, a gym, a fieldhouse, indoor and outdoor synthetic turf, indoor and outdoor tracks, cardio equipment rooms, spaces for high impact interval training and functional fitness and cycling, and multipurpose rooms.

Callender keeps all his surfacing needs under control with what he calls the Total Cost of Ownership.

"Once you have identified the obvious components of activity appropriateness and safety, the concept of Total Cost of Ownership should be the driving force," he said. "This is when you consider the direct cost and indirect costs that occur over the life of the material.

"It appears most effort is put into selecting the appropriate product for the space but not as much understanding or support is directed to the day-to-day operations, cleaning and maintenance of the surface. The organization needs to have appropriate staff, equipment, training and finances for support. A renewal and replacement plan is also crucial in helping reinforce how assets are depreciating and when we need to maintain and fund appropriately."

Callender said there are a few keys to surfacing success in roles such as his. Networking through organizations like the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association tops the list, he said, because it can create access and straighten the learning curve. He also said managers need to clearly define and understand the space use, and engage stakeholders and have clearly defined roles of how they are involved in the process.

"The most overlooked stakeholders are typically the custodial or building services team that maintain the spaces," said Callender. RM