Ecore flooring surfaces accommodate choices in fitness-center preferences.
Gone are the days of visiting a hotel fitness facility to find a treadmill, exercise bike, and some free weights in a tiny, cramped room. Today’s business and leisure travelers expect more. The latest hospitality fitness trend is to offer customers a full-scale gym and wellness center that provides choices. The reason: Today’s travelers desire a customized approach to staying fit when they are away from home. With lots of competition in the hospitality space, hotel owners are vying to keep their customers satisfied. As a result, Marriott International Inc., Bethesda, MD, decided to re-think their fitness center strategy for the company’s 12 brands and 4,400 properties in 87 countries and territories around the globe.
“We are now addressing a new generation, specifically, millennials,” said Dan McGlasson Jr., facility equipment specialist for Marriott Fitness at Marriott International. “They are less into selectorize machines. They want to be moving and having fun and doing more CrossFit-type exercises. How can we evolve and stay ahead of the curve?” Marriott decided to upgrade its existing 2,500-sq.-ft. fitness center, located at its corporate campus. “This space serves two purposes,” said McGlasson. “A functional fitness center to serve the needs of Marriott corporate headquarters, and a showcase to bring through different groups and decision makers for the [Marriott] brands, so they can see the latest and greatest in equipment, lighting, artwork, technology, and flooring,” and select what they want for their facility.
The fitness trend McGlasson has observed in the hospitality industry is occurring on a national level across other markets too. According to the American College of Sports Medicine’s worldwide survey of fitness trends for 2016, in 2014, high-intensity interval training took over the number one spot, which was previously long held by educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals.
Those trends also are reflected in the renovation of Spooky Nook Sports, Mannheim, PA. “The focus is now on strength and conditioning—jumping, sprinting, throwing, crawling; things you would find in a collegiate or professional strength and conditioning program,” said Jim Launer, MS and managing director of athletic operations. Spooky Nook made a conscious effort to address this need for its members by renovating an existing area that formerly housed six tennis courts, into a new, functional training space. This area includes a 200-meter indoor running track, sled lane, weight-lifting area, turf field, one basketball and three pickle-ball courts, so fitness club members can perform circuits and drills when it works for them.
Marriott’s corporate gym was also a retrofit, and the newly renovated, twice-as-large, 5,000-sq.-ft. space is broken into five zones: a traditional aerobic-equipment space, functional training space, traditional free-weight and training area, turf lane, and welcoming area. Each Marriott brand can then select zones/fitness elements they want to incorporate into their hospitality environment.
With a focus now on functional training and customers using their bodies and weights to perform exercises, the surfaces underneath their feet are more significant than ever before. Whereas fitness-center flooring was often an afterthought in the past, this surface is now of paramount importance. “The floor needs to be able to handle heavy weight drops, ropes, medicine-ball slams, and jumping,” said Launer. “The right floor will be able to withstand all of these things, while providing a surface that is comfortable, ergonomically sound, and quiet.”
Spooky Nook and Marriott specified Ecore, Lancaster, PA, surfacing. “We’ve worked very well together over the years,” said McGlasson. “It wasn’t just about a program and pricing. We want to partner with companies on products that make all of us better.” Spooky Nook first started working with Ecore in 2012 and has the company’s flooring throughout its $25-million complex. “Our customers expect us to provide them with the best surfaces possible,” said Launer. “It is our job to find that and to have surfaces that look and perform a certain way that motivates them.”
Ecore surfacing features istru technology, a patented process whereby virtually any wear layer can be fusion bonded to a recycled-rubber backing. This includes rubber, carpet, turf, and vinyl products. Because rubber is incorporated into each product, the surfaces provide safety, ergonomic, and acoustic benefits.
Owners and facility managers of large hotels, small community fitness centers, or something in between should consider how to incorporate a functional-training and a wellness-center experience into their service offering. Whether retrofitting an existing space or building something brand new, the surface selection that is made should be thoughtful, so customers are protected, happy, and, more importantly, keep coming back.