Kinds of Gym Mats For Pilates and Yoga
You may be a yoga freak with knowledge in a variety of yoga postures or a circuit training fan interested in strength building and muscular endurance. The type of gym mats for pilates and yoga are the same. It all depends on the practitioner.
Whatever the case may be, there is an exercise mat for everyone. Though a very versatile training accessory, every mat is not made for every kind of exercise. There are three factors to consider while choosing one, viz. comfort, size and durability.
- Fitting comfort
The level of comfort you seek in your fitness mat or gym mats will depend primarily on your frequency of training. The more your frequency of training is, the more comfort that is mat thickness, you would need.
The kind of activities you will be using your mat for also determines the thickness of your mat. You may be doing gentle workouts, like stretching or Pilates, for which you are barefoot and often encounter the floor. In such a case you should go for a soft mat that is at least 5mm thick – it offers more comfort and protection from the floor.
The size of your fitness mat also determines your level of comfort during the workout. Other than taking your height into consideration when choosing gym matting, you should also think about the activities you will be performing. If your fitness regimen includes exercises requiring frequent contact with the floor, you will require a longer mat than you would if you are mostly kneeling or seated.
The frequency with which you train will determine the kind of durability to wear you seek from your mat. If you use it regularly or intensively, choosing one with a protective coating is better as it offers resistance to wear from sports shoes.
Types of mats
With the above three criteria in mind, you can now go about exploring the types of mats available.
The yoga mat is the thinnest mat available, with thicknesses ranging from 0.3 to 0.6 cm. It is aimed at increasing traction for the practitioner and is meant to be carried around easily. There are many forms of yoga, and yoga mats have been designed to adapt to these changing styles.
For example, to allow for flexibility and added grip, standard yoga mats are made of PVC. But if you are into hot yoga, it is better to go for a mat with a towel-style surface that absorbs sweat and prevents slipping. Yoga mats are also made of natural or biodegradable materials like cotton or hemp. Though yoga mats are seldom shared among people, you should make sure to clean yours regularly. Simple soap and water cleaning are enough.
Pilate mats and yoga mats are often the same mat. Sometimes pilates practitioners might opt for slightly thicker mats. They are meant to cushion the body and provide excellent grip. They are usually made from TPE (Thermal Plastic Elastomer) which is a closed-cell foam structure. Some of them have a bottom surface with grip and a sliding top which enables smoother Pilates move transitions. Unlike yoga mats, Pilates mats are often shared and that is why they should lend themselves to easy cleaning.
General-purpose exercise mats
General-purpose mats are ubiquitous across gyms but are also great for home use. These mats which are short but thick, aim to cushion the body during the workout. It is ideal for floor-based workouts such as planks, Russian twists, and sit-ups.
There are three kinds of general-purpose exercise mats:
These have foam cores with vinyl covers. They are hardy and easily wiped clean and are good for repeated use.
These are made from Thermoplastic Elastomer and are comfortable and strong. They are also very environment friendly as the material is recyclable. Though it offers a soft and comfortable feel, its elastic properties allow the mat to regain its original shape after use.
EVA foam mats are affordable and lightweight. But you should be cautious about your feet while using them as they are not built to withstand the abrasion which might be caused by trainers. The soft surface of these mats may be torn by rough soles.
Floor protecting exercise mats
These mats are stationary in that they remain fixed in an area designated for exercise. They are high-density EVA foam mats meant for absorbing shock, cutting down noise and protecting the floor underneath. Some can be over eight feet long and three feet wide.
Occasionally they are a ‘jigsaw’ style in construction and that is why they are also known as puzzle mats. They should not be confused with specialist rubber fitness floor tiles. They are not built for withstanding the weight of dropping dumbbells and barbells, but for providing an ideal surface for circuits, stretching and functional exercises.
Professional fitness mats
They may be one or two inches thick and find use in gymnastics and other professional sports. Having enough thickness to absorb almost any impact that might damage vital body parts. They are big and bulky, and though some are foldable, they are difficult to store. Usually made from standard or extra-dense foam, they can be protected by vinyl covers.