Monday, July 6, 2015

Minnesota Sensei floors competition in Karate and Yoga

USA Karate sensei David Younglove takes a break from training action to instruct his students while sitting on Greatmats Karate flooring at his dojo in Rosemount, Minn. Folded against the wall is a Greatmats crash pad for use under his training rings and rope climbing area.
By Brett Hart
There's no doubt about it, 32-year martial arts veteran David Younglove knows the importance of a proper foundation.
Beginning his training as a martial artist back in 1983, Mr. Younglove earned his first blackbelt and began teaching Karate by the age of 17. A Minnesota state champion, Mr. Younglove joined the U.S. Marine Corp in the early 1990s where he trained Thailand Marines in hand-to-hand combat.
“We taught on just carpet over cement in those days and if you fell, it was just terrible,” Mr. Younglove said. “The first generation of mats... we put in martial arts schools were just terrible. They were very hard. They were very grippy on the feet.”
Despite these less-than-ideal training surfaces, Mr. Younglove continued to pursue his passion for martial arts and, from 2012 to 2014, he was the top-ranked North Central Karate Association (NCKA) competitor in traditional form for 40-49 year olds.
In July of last year, this sixth-degree blackbelt finally found the perfect martial arts flooring on Greatmats.com1 inch thick foam karate mats. These 1x1 meter interlocking foam tiles, designed to look like wood floors, have a leather-like, waterproof surface that provides both proper stability and cushion.
“I've tried many of the others in all of our different schools – and (talked to) other owners,” Mr. Younglove said. “These are by far and large the best that I've found.”
“I went to different martial arts owners and worked out on their floors. I looked at the Swains; I looked at the Zebra mats and all the different ones, and I got some samples.”
After inspecting a free sample of the Greatmats Karate Mats, Mr. Younglove purchased three tiles and snapped them together for a test.
“(I) just did a few moves on them and decided by far and large, it had the most support, but also had the most cushion at the same time,” Mr. Younglove said. “It works out great.”
In fact, he liked them so much that he not only purchased them as his dojo flooring at USA Karate in Rosemount, Minn., but also for his yoga studio in the same building.
As an added safety feature to Mr.
Younglove's USA Karate studio,
he also utilizes a Greatmats
Skill Cushion Mat underneath his
 training rings and rope climbing area.
“I have a dual studio,” Mr. Younglove said. “We incorporate a full yoga program with our full martial arts program. At this facility we have two classrooms. Kids can be taking karate class and mom can be taking yoga class simultaneously. I put it in the yoga side and, to my knowledge, we're the only yoga studio that has a padded floor. We're constantly on our knees and on our elbows and a lot of our population is 40 and over. We have some 70 year olds taking class. It is very gentle on the joints. It also really challenges your balance.”
Mr. Younglove noted that it took about six months of regular use to fully break in the flooring, which was a bit slippery to start, but it was well worth the patience, knowing that he offers yet another tool in helping his students build the best foundation in self-esteem with a positive and safe learning environment.




Monday, June 29, 2015

K-9 Academy beats Mother Nature with patio tiles and foam mats

These soft and durable dog agility mats provide excellent shock absorption, making it easy on dogs' bones and joints during times of high activity levels.     
By Brett Hart
Fighting the elements isn't always the easiest thing to do in Minnesota. That's why Josiah Neuman, owner and training director of the nation's leading dog boot camp, designed a premiere 3,600 square foot climate-controlled all-weather training area when he moved his 20-acre St. Peter training facility, Neuman K-9 Academy, onto 10 acres of pristine wilderness in Hugo, Minn., in late 2011.
“I've been training dogs professionally since 2007 (when he became a Certified Master Trainer),” Josiah said. “We've had about 1,000 dogs go through the course. Dogs come from all over. This year, we've had dogs return to their owners in Switzerland, Brazil and Canada (as well as all over the U.S.). We get them from all over the place specifically for the boot camp.”
At the time of the move, the new property had a pole shed in disrepair, which Josiah and his staff envisioned as the location of the indoor training area.
“Clients want their dogs to have first class accommodations,” Josiah said. “We do train outside as well, but it's nice to have an atmosphere like this where you can walk in and focus on the dog and training and not the elements.”
After several months of intense restoration and remodeling work, the final hurdle of the project was selecting a durable floor that would stay dry while also providing a safe and comfortable surface for dogs.
“We were really going back and forth on how to treat the concrete floors previous to installing any sort of flooring, because we knew it (the concrete) would sweat,” Josiah said. “We put a lot of time and effort into researching different flooring options. It was import to us to have space that is climate controlled.”
Neuman K-9 Academy uses Greatmats
patio outdoor tile as subfloor underneath
its foam dog agility mats to ensure
no moisture will get trapped under
its soft and safe training flooring.
In July of 2012, the staff at Neuman K-9 Academy decided blaze a new trail in K-9 flooring with an alternative use for Patio Outdoor Tiles they found on a website called Greatmats.com. The Patio Outdoor Tiles, designed for use in wet areas, would serve as a subfloor underneath waterproof interlocking dog agility mats also found at Greatmats.com. Waterproof and slip resistant, the patio tiles are designed to allow water to drain through them and are elevated, permitting air to flow underneath the flooring.
“We put down the PVC as a subfloor because... we didn't want the moisture to be trapped underneath,” Josiah said. “It just made more sense to use a product like the PVC floor that would be designed for getting wet, airflow, things like that.”
Summer Duggan, the assistant training director at Neuman K-9 Academy, added, “It's a firm material, but I think it even adds an extra layer of support and cushioning – as opposed to just having the mats flat on concrete.”
The idea for interlocking dog agility mats as the top surface of the floating floor came upon recommendation of other friends in the professional dog training industry. One training facility in western Wisconsin used these same kind of interlocking dog agility mats, and Josiah was particularly impressed by their performance.
“They've had them for a long time,” Josiah said, noting that they've beaten up the mats and they're still holding up really well.
“We do sport dogs,” Josiah said. “We do bite work. So we'll literally have a dog back tied – agitation; they're gripping; they're clawing; they're pulling. These go through a lot of abuse. One of the biggest considerations with the type of flooring we were going to go with was not only... Is it comfortable for the dogs? Is it safe for them? And then very importantly, what's the longevity of the product going to be like.”

Durability
The K-9 Academy uses the facility 3-4 times per week, specifically for off-leash behavior and training with up to 15 dogs at a time. After nearly 3 years, the flooring has suffered some expected cosmetic blemishes that come along with hard use and abuse. But the mats continue to perform as well as the day they were installed.
Summer said, “We work with different working breeds in different venues in addition to the obedience and the agility, and I'm very impressed with the durability of the product. It gets a lot of mileage. There are lots of dogs running around in here – lots of toenails, and its held up phenomenally well, even in the really high traffic areas.”
“So far, we haven't replaced a single tile,” Josiah added.

Comfort and Safety
Neuman K-9 Academy uses its climate controlled
training facility to ensure its clients have optimal
comfort and safety during the training process.
The new flooring system hasn't disappointed in comfort or safety either.
“When we are doing jumps, we're having dogs clear things and land hard,” Josiah said. “When you are training a sport dog to jump, typically you won't start until they're 12 months of age or older – sometimes even 2 years of age or older - because of their bones developing. With how soft these (tiles) are to land on, we can actually start dogs at a younger age, because it's low impact.”
To get out of the elements at its previous location, Neuman K-9 Academy need to rent space, and the flooring systems varied greatly.
“One place had concrete pavers, which was not good,” Summer said. “There were situations sometimes where dogs would get scraped pads. Other places had a pebbly/rubbery floor - decent traction, but no shock absorption. This is the best!”
As for the water problem from sweaty concrete and foot traffic... There isn't one.
“When people are coming in and out... if there's snow, if it's a rainy day... things dry up really nice,” Josiah said. “We've never had a problem with them.”
With this innovative flooring system, Neuman K-9 Academy is truly top dog.


View a brief video clip of the flooring in use at Neuman K-9 Academy at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMevoL6mHpI

Monday, June 22, 2015

Minimum maintenance entryway a welcome touch at homeless shelter

Greatmats Entrance Linear Tiles still look like new after a year and a half of steady use at Ramsey County Family Service Center in Maplewood, Minn.
By Brett Hart
Appearance, ease of installation and ease of repair are all important aspects when deciding on flooring for high traffic areas – especially to someone in charge of installation and maintenance. Those factors, as well as price and performance specs, guided Ramsey County (Minn.) Building Services Manager Bruce Christofferson to Greatmats Entrance Linear Tiles when deciding on flooring for the entryway of the Ramsey County Family Service Center, located in Maplewood, Minn., back in December of 2013.
Greatmats modular entrance tiles are made from 100 percent recycled materials and come with a three-year limited warranty. The interlocking tile design allows them to easily snap together without any need for adhesives. They are waterproof, UV resistant and feature a non-slip ribbed carpet top surface. It was the modular design of the American-made 1x1 foot by ½ inch tiles, and the ease of installation, that piqued Christofferson's interest.
Operating as a homeless shelter, the Ramsey County Family Service Center is operated 24/7 and temporarily houses as many as 65 adults and children at one time. After a year and a half of heavy use at the facility, the tiles have more than lived up to expectations.
“Many of the building's users use strollers and other carts,” Christofferson said. “The mats have withstood the cart traffic without movement or separation. The carpet has not separated from the backing, even with daily cart traffic. ... The tiles continue to look new.”

With less time spent on maintenance, the staff at the family service center is able to focus better on helping Ramsey County families find employment and transition into stable housing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Why the fuss over stall flooring? How comfortable are you sleeping in your bathroom?

Proper stall flooring can keep your horse happy, healthy and ready to serve.
Sure, you can get by with topsoil, clay, sand, concrete or even asphalt as the flooring surface for your horse stalls. But don't you think your equine companion deserves better? You want your horses in the right state of mind and physical condition when you ask them to carry you down the trail, in a competition or even in a parade. Making them comfortable (and healthy) in the barn can make a world of difference, and it starts with good flooring – in their stalls and even aisles and wash bays.
An ideal horse stall floor should be durable, easy on the horses' feet and legs, dry, odor resistant, skid resistant, low maintenance and easy to clean.

When you consider that a 1,000 pound horse produces more than 30 pounds of feces and almost 2 ½ gallons of urine each day, “dry and clean” can be tricky to maintain. That's where proper drainage and floor surfacing can play a big role. Water resistant or waterproof floors must be sloped to allow for drainage, and bedding is often used to soak up the rest of the urine. Porous floors allow the urine to seep away through a sand, gravel or crushed stone foundation.

Rubber or plastic grid mats, while expensive, provide all of the necessary requirements when used in conjunction with a compacted subfloor and topped with another material such as soil. This combination allows for drainage, prevents damage and wear from pawing and will not retain bacteria-laden odors that can cause respiratory problems in horses.

Rubber horse stall mats should be textured on top for grip
and grooved on the bottom to prevent moisture from
becoming trapped.
Impervious stall flooring
If you don't have the funds to create this complex, but highly effective, stall flooring system, rubber stall mats may just be your answer. Solid rubber mats are extremely durable and can reduce or even eliminate the need for bedding to provide cushion. They also provide solid footing, a long life span, low maintenance and easy cleaning. Installed over an even, compact surface, rubber horse stall mats should be textured on top for grip and grooved on the bottom to prevent moisture from becoming trapped. They can have straight or interlocking edges, but keep in mind that straight-edged mats may be difficult to keep in place and may need to be anchored to the floor. Rubber stall mats are easy to clean, but take care not to damage the surface if using a pitch fork.
Rubber stall mats with interlocking edges help prevent
shifting of the stall flooring, even in temporary installations.
Other solid surfaces, such as concrete or asphalt are durable, low maintenance, easy to clean and disinfect and will not retain odors. However, they are hard on the horses legs, can retain moisture and may discourage laying down, therefore, increasing the need for bedding or rubber matting. Improper installation can cause cracking, chipping and sanitation problems due to urine getting trapped in surface irregularities. They do add a unique benefit in that, in good condition, they are rodent proof.

Porous stall flooring
Porous flooring materials such as topsoil, clay and sand are easy on the legs and are non slip, but lack durability and can be hard to clean, disinfect and maintain. Each of these flooring solutions need to be replaced frequently, offsetting the initial benefit of low pricing. While topsoil and sand can absorb wetness, clay is questionable in that category. Although topsoil and clay do absorb moisture, they can also retain it too long and may freeze hard during the winter. Sand and clay both serve as noise buffers but vary greatly on their effects on horse feet. Clay keeps hooves moist while sand has a drying effect.
Two other common flooring options for horse stalls are wood and a road base mix. Wood is easy on the legs and warm to lie upon. Rough wood has good traction but can become slippery when wet. It also has a high initial expense, can be prone to insect and rodent damage and must be checked often for signs of wear. Wood absorbs odors and bacteria and is difficult to clean due to its porosity.
Road base mixes vary greatly in size of particles, but are generally made primarily of limestone or granite – the smaller the rocks the better. It is easily leveled and compacted and provides good drainage, but can become hard and unforgiving much like concrete.

Aisle flooring
Rubber paving bricks offer unique aesthetic value as well as
shock absorption and dust and bacteria control.
Your horses' comfort and safety doesn't stop at the stall. It extends to the barn alleys and wash areas and, depending on the layout of your barn, may even include the feed and tack rooms. Much like the stalls, aisles should be durable, dry, skidproof and easy to clean. Wide aisles used for exercising horses should have a sandy footing much like that of a riding arena. Smaller aisles, where horses are simply walked to and from their stalls should be treated much like the stalls themselves. The exception is, alleyway floors should always redirect water instead of absorbing. Sloping is critical and drains are recommended along the sides. Once again, grid mats are a top choice if you can afford it.
Another strong option for aisles are rubber paving bricks, which provide excellent shock absorption and make it easy to control dust and bacteria at a much lower cost than traditional bricks which can harbor bacteria. While the aesthetic value of bricks is hard to beat, soil upheaval and/or poor installation of any brick surface can result in a uneven surface and tripping hazards. Solid rubber or rolled rubber mats eliminate the concern over uneven surfaces, assuming they are installed over a properly-leveled and compacted surface. All other forms of flooring leave holes in one or more of the essential components of a proper horse barn aisle.

Wash bay flooring should provide a waterproof,
non-skid surface that allows water to drain away.
Wash bay flooring 
When considering flooring for your equine wash bays, make sure the floor does not get slippery when wet and is impervious to water. Drains and grates are essential. The best wash bay flooring materials are rough concrete, textured rubber mats over concrete, and sealed, large aggregate asphalt. Again, the floor should be sloped toward a drain that is away from where the horse will be standing as drain covers may cause a safety concern.

When it comes to horse stall flooring, you get what you pay for. A little extra investment in time and materials up front can make for a happy and healthy relationship for years to come between you and your horse.


Friday, June 5, 2015

Why should I care which plastic is used in my floors?

Plastics used in flooring and matting go by several different acronyms – PE, PP, PVC, LDPE, MDPE, HDPE, PEX. What does it all mean? And why should I care?

There are three commonly-used thermoplastics in the flooring industry. (Thermoplastics become soft and moldable upon heating and solidify again when cooled.) The three most commonly produced thermoplastics are polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Each of those thermoplastics also have variations that affect their intended use. Here's how it works.

Waterproof PVC makes a good material for outdoor patio tiles.
PVC flooring is best used for outdoor applications.
Polyvinyl Chloride
PVC can be rigid (RPVC) or flexible. RPVC is usually used for piping, doors, windows, bank cards and non-food packaging, but it can be brittle. With the addition of phthalates (chemicals used to soften plastics), RPVC becomes softer and more flexible, making it suitable to replace rubber in many instances which is where it becomes useful in flooring. PVC flooring is inexpensive and versatile. Chlorinated PVC is resistant to fire, oils and many chemicals. It can also withstand extreme environmental conditions. In the flooring industry, PVC is popular due to its ability to prevent dirt buildup and fend off breeding of microbes in areas that need to be kept sterile. Its waterproof properties make it a popular material for outdoor patio tiles and sports courts.
Note: There is some concern over phthalates' health effects on humans as some studies have shown certain phthalate exposures to coincide with changes in hormone levels and increased birth defects in rodents. Phthalates typically do not persist in outdoor environments due to biodegradation, photodegradation and anaerobic degradation.
Polypropylene is good for garage floor tiles due to its resistance to high heats and chemicals.
Polypropylene flooring is highly resistant to heat
 and chemicals.

Polypropylene
PP is free of bisphenol A (BPA), a common chemical in use for making plastics since the 1960s that has been found to seep into food or beverages, causing concern over possible health effects on the brain and prostate glands. PP is lightweight, strong and flexible and resistant to high heat – up to 200 degrees Celsius. It is also resistant to corrosion, chemicals and moisture. Polypropylene has a wide variety of uses, including packaging, thermal underwear, carpeting, laboratory equipment and automotive components. In the flooring industry, PP is often used for garage floor tiles, due to durability and load rating properties.





Polyethylene
Gymnastics mats use cross-linked polyethylene foam.
Polyethylene is used to make shock absorbent foam.
PE is the most common plastic and comes in several different densities. Medium and high density polyethylene (MDPE and HDPE) have a melting point range of between 120 and 180 degrees Celsius. Low density polyethylene (LDPE) melts between 105 and 115 degrees Celsius. LDPE, MDPE and HDPE are all resistant to strong acids and bases as well as gentle oxidants and reducing agents.
One third of all toys are manufactured from HDPE which has high tensile strength. Cross-linked Polyethylene (PEX) foam used in gymnastics mats generally uses HDPE and provides a firm and strong closed-cell material. This material does well rebounding to its original shape, providing bounce, cushion and/or shock absorption.
MDPE has good shock absorption and is more resistant to notching and stress cracking than HDPE. MDPE is often used for gas pipes, bags and packaging film.
LDPE is more likely to deform under tensile stress. It is commonly used for both rigid containers and plastic films.

As you can see, there are both good and bad sides to each kind of plastic, making it important to think carefully about how and where these materials should and will be used.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Win 20 Free Home MMA BJJ Mats, a $242 value, in the Greatmats Video Contest!

Post a video of your best martial arts moves to Facebook. Include ‪#‎GreatmatsMMA‬ and tag Greatmats in your post to be entered to win 20 Home MMA BJJ Mats (+ free shipping in the continental U.S.) - http://www.greatmats.com/products/home-grappling-mats.php.
Make sure to Like Greatmats before you tag us.
Get an additional 5% off any Home MMA BJJ 2x2 ft floor tiles with the coupon code MMAVIDEO during the month of June. Contest ends June 30.