When designing any fitness space, gym flooring is an essential element that can truly make or break an exercise regimen, yet it is very often treated as an afterthought.

Gym flooring impacts not only aesthetics, acoustics, and comfort, but it also has a direct impact on the performance of the user, providing stability and support to protect from injury. During functional training, participants perform dynamic movements and exercises with a myriad of equipment and body weight, making the surface underneath their feet critical inclusion.

“We treat the importance of flooring like we do the importance of equipment,” says Lauren Holle, FitnessDesignGroup Director of Design. “The right flooring choice is essential to the success of every fitness space and has the ability to positively, or negatively, impact an individual’s experience and safety in that space.”

When designing a fitness space, operators, architects, and designers should keep in mind the following considerations when it comes to flooring:

Fitness design rendering showing different types of gym flooring in design

Activity and Energy Zones

Fitness facility flooring must withstand a variety of modalities and activities including heavyweight drops, battle ropes, medicine ball slams and repeated jumping, all while providing a comfortable, ergonomically sound, and noise-mitigating environment.

The type of activities that will be performed within different areas of the space need to be deeply considered, and the facility operator can work with a Functional Design Specialist to get a keen sense and thorough knowledge of which flooring materials and finish options are best suited for these different activities.

“There are certain floor finishes that can be used in one area of the gym but maybe a horrible selection in others,” says Holle. “For example, while the entry and lower energy zone areas may support a broad range of finish options, the high-energy zones that facilitate functional or strength training need to feature a high-performance material that provides support.”

Cardio vibration waves stemming from the use of treadmills for instance are another consideration, and performance flooring works best for those areas as well.

Facilitating Safety and Performance 

Proper flooring should support and protect the user’s body and facilitate top performance by helping to diminish fatigue, minimize discomfort and enable participants to perform at their highest levels longer and more efficiently. The right flooring also enhances the athlete’s performance by absorbing force and providing a return of energy through innovative engineering and design.


Sound absorption and acoustics are key, especially if the space is not on a ground floor or has adjacent offices or units.

A space full of athletes performing dynamic movements and lifting heavy weights can become noisy and irritating, which is not the best environment for a satisfying workout. Using a flooring surface that absorbs energy, vibration waves, and sound can greatly reduce the ambient noise and create a more pleasant experience for the user and those around this space while increasing the longevity of the flooring and fitness equipment.


The use of environmentally conscious and sustainable materials, such as recycled rubber, bamboo, and cork can render high-quality products for modern flooring demands without leaving a detrimental carbon footprint on the environment. These types of materials, when utilized properly, can also increase performance and durability while greatly reducing maintenance costs over time.

Aesthetics and Design  

Flooring can be used to celebrate and draw certain attention to a specific zone in the gym, making it a great tool for aesthetics as well. Flooring can also help communicate the overall zoning breakdown of a large space, designating, for example, where the strength zone ends and the functional or group training area begins.

“Don’t forget about transitions,” Holle says. “Transitions need to be as seamless as possible to provide a refined aesthetic but more importantly, they need to be safe. If you have employed a Functional Designer that’s involved in the full design process, adjustments and adaptations can be made to achieve both if necessary.”

For example, Holle says “It may be preferred to use a thicker flooring material in the strength zone and a thinner flooring in an entry or recovery zone, so depending upon the building environment, there are options to think through. Consider depressing the slab in the strength zone or wherever there is a need for thicker flooring, use an underlayment in the entry or recovery zone to align with the thicker flooring in other zones, or gradually grade/ramp up to provide the best result. All that to be said, the best solution is highly situational and client specific.”

Designing a facility that best supports user experience and success, while offering pleasing acoustics and aesthetics includes making the right flooring choices.