Hammarsdale based Mathe Group & Van Dyck damps down the sound in London gyms

Hammarsdale based Mathe Group & Van Dyck damps down the sound in London gyms
The acoustic flooring is manufactured in a dark and green finish.

The sound of a heavy barbell hitting the ground or a kettlebell or medicine ball slamming onto a floor, the thump in a gym and bodyweight training and the drone of dance tracks and screeching trainers during fitness and spinning classes have created a whole new class of noise pollution.

Add vibrations from equipment and weight drops that infiltrate into the structures of buildings and you realise why, in cities like London, where high rise buildings are the norm and gyms share spaces with residents and other businesses, legislation to control acoustics has been tightened in recent years.

Radial Tyre Recycler

Mathe Group & Van Dyck, South Africa’s largest radial truck recycler and only molding company that produces rubber flooring products from the resulting rubber crumb, has turned this into a growing export opportunity, according to CEO, Dr Mehran Zarrebini.

In the humble industrial hub of Hammarsdale, just outside of Durban, over 4 000 sq/m of acoustic rubber tiles are produced each month for gyms in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

A partnership with UK company, Instafloor, which dates to 2006, has seen the development of a complex acoustic flooring system specifically designed for fitness studios and gyms. This not only solves acoustic issues but also deals with the loadings of fitness equipment and the impact from free weights.

Acoustic subfloor System

It relies on an acoustic subfloor system that has been specially developed and tested. It is proven to exceeding UK building regulations for airborne and impact sound caused by exercise equipment and activity.

The floor rests on Acoustic Cradles, made from recycled local rubber crumb. This versatile cradle system can be adjusted to ensure a level floor at the required height, overcoming any uneven areas in the structural floor and avoiding the need for messy levelling screeds. The completed system has the added advantage of creating an underfloor void for installing services such as underfloor heating.

“Our Hammarsdale facility is a pivotal export hub with many of our manufactured products being distributed internationally. Collaborative efforts with Instafloor SA and Instafloor UK are instrumental in the sales and marketing of our acoustic flooring solutions, highlighting our global reach and the international demand for our products,” says Dr Zarrebini.

He explains that Mathe Group’s acoustic flooring offering also includes shock pads that are used for heavy lifting areas. Acoustic tiles are placed over these shock pads and in other areas across each gym.

Shock pads are manufactured using waste products from tyre retreaders which are sieved to separate out fibres of the correct length. Acoustic cradles and underlays are made using a similar process that relies on polyurethane and rubber crumb from recycled radial truck tyres produced on site.

The South African Gym Market

He says that, currently, the less sophisticated South African gym market has not evolved to the point where acoustic equipment is prioritized. Upper end gyms are purchasing shock pads for weight areas whilst most others are just using rubber tiles for heavy traffic areas at this point.

However, Dr Zarrebini believes that, as more and more gyms are located in mixed use residential buildings and in hotels and resorts, there will be greater emphasis on containing noise.

“We are working closely with our partner, Instafloor, in the UK where they have done all the testing and have the relevant literature. We can adapt that for use in South Africa,” he says.

According to Dr Zarrebini, the UK is a particularly strong market for Van Dyck with containers regularly leaving via Durban harbour. A shared language and timeline, together with a reputation for good customer service and the ability to order smaller volumes are plusses.

“The beauty of this product is that customers can consolidate different products into one container. They can buy the cradles, shock pads and tiles and also our acoustic underlay product and pack everything in a single container for export. If they were buying from China or other S East Asian countries, they would need to purchase a container load of each product,” he adds.

In addition to selling to the UK, Van Dyck has also sold acoustic gym products into Africa, having completed large installations in Botswana and Mauritius as well as in the Seychelles. The company is also regularly fielding enquiries from Dubai and is investigating introducing this product into the Middle East.

Should that happen and demand escalate, Dr Zarrebini says Van Dyck can more than double its capacity as it already has a second manufacturing line waiting in the wings for commissioning at its Hammarsdale facility.