What's the best flooring for CrossFit?
Which features make gym flooring fit CrossFit needs best?
As the benefits of non-repetitive exercises and motions become better known, many fitness centers are beginning to focus on CrossFit style training. While there are set exercise routines that must take place to train in this method, there are still some commonalities among cross fitness exercises that make flooring an important tool in your training.
Most cross fitness exercise areas are equipped with a dense rubber flooring material. Thickness, texture, firmness and tile/mat/roll size of the rubber, however, varies greatly from center to center. Here, we'll break down the pros and cons of each of those categories.
Most cross fitness floors use rubber flooring ranging from 1/4 to 3/4 inches thick. Generally speaking, the thinner the rubber, the less expensive and lighter weight it will be. However, thinner and lighter rubber floors will not absorb nearly as much shock as the thicker varieties and may have more tendency to curl or shift, creating potential hazards.
While most rubber floors are quite dense and hard, they still provide a certain level of impact resistance which is good for the floor beneath the rubber and the bones and joints of athletes. The thicker the rubber, the better it will protect both, especially during exercises where jumping or weight dropping is involved. In many cases, dropping weights, especially from overhead is safer for the athletes than trying to lower them.
Generally speaking, the smoother the surface of rubber cross fitness flooring the better. Many exercises involve contact between bare skin - especially hands and chest - and the floor. Overly textured surfaces can cause the exercises to become uncomfortable and possibly cause floor burns.
In most cases, the firmer and the flatter the floor the better to ensure consistent footing. A small amount of cushion in the floor is handy for jumping exercises, but most movements involve pushing against the floor with a great need for maximum output. The more cushion the floor provides, the less efficient the movement becomes. Noticeable cushion is generally too much.
Rubber Tiles, Mats, Rolls
No matter which form of rubber flooring you choose, it is important to make sure all tiles, mats, or rolls fit tightly together and can be secured to avoid separation.
In most cases rubber flooring rolls are the least expensive option for cross fitness gym flooring - especially in large spaces. The rolls cut down on the number of seams and potential tripping hazards and are commonly used to create lanes for competitions. The the downside of rubber rolls is that the rolls are very heavy and often require multiple people to install. They also are more difficult to find in thicknesses greater than 1/2 inch. For thicker rolled rubber floors, it may be necessary to roll out multiple layers.
Rubber mats are commonly offered in 4 foot widths and 6-8 foot lengths. These mats give you a broader range of of thicknesses - typically 1/4 to 3/4 inch. They can feature either straight or interlocking edges and offer more versatility than rolls. Rubber cross fitness mats can be used independently or combined to cover larger areas.
Rubber mats are commonly used under barbells for olympic lifts where heavy weights will be dropped from overhead. Depending on the thickness and density of the mats, they may be able to be installed by a single person with a reasonable amount of effort, but in most cases, a two or more person installation team is recommended. There will be a fair amount of seams if installed in large areas.
Rubber gym tiles provide the greatest versatility and, in most cases, can be installed by one person. One of the biggest differences between rubber tiles and other rubber cross fitness flooring options is the thickness options. With the smaller, 2- or 3-foot squares, it opens the door for much greater thickness. Some rubber tiles exceed are more than 2 inches of thickness.
Nearly all of these tiles will interlock in some form, keeping them from separating. The most common method is puzzle style interlocks, but for higher end rubber tiles, the locks are hidden. This rubber flooring also creates less waste in wall-to-wall installations than larger mats and rolls and can offer a much larger variety of design and color options. The disadvantages of rubber tiles are that there are more seams and they are generally more expensive per square foot than rubber rolls or mats.
There are also numerous valuable flooring accessories for your cross fitness training, whether it is for learning new techniques, adding safety features and merely comfort. One of the most popular cushioned accessories is folding gym mats. Generally used for gymnastics, tumbling or martial arts, the versatility of folding mats lend well to aiding providing varying heights to assist in learning drills such as candlesticks or offering a more comfortable surface for your sit-ups or handstand pushups.
Whether you are a gym owner, trainer, competitor or recreational cross fitness athlete, the right rubber flooring will be your friend.