During the department’s last major renovation in 2014, University of Colorado-Boulder (CU Boulder) Recreation Services converted 14,000 square feet of gym space into indoor synthetic turf.
Dan Rummel, the associate director of Facilities and Risk Management, said the new addition has since been very popular with students.
“At least for us in Boulder, we wanted to provide a space for users to use a turf field year-round,” said Rummel. “We wanted to provide more opportunities for our students and user groups. After 2 p.m. each day, the space is full.”
Elsewhere at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), the Recreation Wellness Center received a full renovation to its weight room facility in September 2021. This included a new turf section for special workouts.
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Steve Kudika, the assistant director of Fitness and Wellness, said the response from students has also been very strong.
“People just love turf for some reason,” said Kudika. “It’s a space people are drawn to for stretching and any floor work they have in their workout that day. Like other areas in the weight room space, they can get several elements in their workout done on the turf.”
Rummel said their synthetic turf area is seeing so much traffic they have a program called Turf Fit. Visitors can schedule drop-in times to complete their own workout in the space.
“For Turf Fit, we have sleds you can push and pull, box jumps of various sizes, agility ladders, parachutes for sprinting, farmers carry handles, kettlebells, ropes, and sandbags,” said Rummel. “We pull these out of the closet and leave them on the turf for people to use as they please.”
In fact, Rummel said Recreation Services was recently in the process of converting one squash and two racquetball courts into a fitness/weight space. One of the racquetball courts is being converted into another synthetic turf space to provide more room for patrons.
Rummel said the turf and the rest of the flooring in CU Boulder’s Recreation Center’s weight/strength space is supplied by PLAE.
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While CU Boulder is reaping the benefits from providing these options, it doesn’t come without additional care and oversight.
Rummel said preventative maintenance is extremely important to keep any turf area safe and properly functioning for years to come. This includes a yearly GMAX test which measures the ability of the surface to absorb the shock — or kinetic energy — from a collision.
“If you maintain them correctly you should be able to get at least 10 years from them,” said Rummel. “We maintain our spaces by keeping them clean, brushing the field and running a UV disinfecting machine over it monthly. You always want to review and follow the manufacturer’s warranties and recommended care.”
Kudika also said to adopt manufacturer specifics for upkeep and best practices. UTSA Campus Rec vacuums its turf space once a day and disinfects twice a day. The section measures 15 feet by 70 feet and came from Sports Pro Surfacing. Students are using the space for sled use and any walking exercise with weights like kettlebells, dumbbells and sandbags.
Kudika added due to fitness trends causing workouts to be increasingly functional, turf flooring is becoming more and more prevalent. Therefore, more open space is necessary to allow users to take up a greater footprint during their workouts.
“Turf has been trending up for some time now as it can be an excellent surface for functional use,” said Kudika. “As the field trends to functional workouts, so will the equipment and flooring.”