How Do I Choose the Best Workout Mat?

C. Mitchell

The best way to choose a workout mat is to find a product that is optimized for the kinds of exercises you think you will be performing the most. Workout mats for sit-ups and stretches are often made of thick foam, while exercises like Pilates and yoga that require more movement are better with thinner, narrower mats. Even within styles, mats come in a variety of colors, patterns, and textures. Do a bit of research to find the product that will best complement your regimen.

A thin mat is good for yoga or Pilates.
A thin mat is good for yoga or Pilates.

One of the first things that you will need to do when looking to buy a workout mat is to learn something about the many different kinds of mats that are available. Some mats are large and are designed to be stored either in a gym or folded against a wall when not in use. This kind of mat is common in tumbling exercises or in conjunction with seated stretches and exercises.

The yoga mat an individual needs is based on which kind of yoga exercises they will be doing.
The yoga mat an individual needs is based on which kind of yoga exercises they will be doing.

Other exercise mats are much more portable, often rolling up to fit comfortably in a gym bag or backseat. A yoga mat and a Pilates mat both fit into this category. These mats are designed for use by just one person and are usually quite narrow.

Deciding on the type of mat you are after is far from the end of your search. Many different kinds of mats exist in each category. If you can, talk to the instructor of your class or a fitness expert in your community to ask for recommendations for your particular exercise. Different styles of yoga require sticky mats, ultra-thin mats, and padded mats, for instance. Similarly, an experienced gymnast may be able to make do with a standard tumbling mat, while a beginner may need a thicker, more cushioned landing at first.

Taking stock of your exercise space and size constraints is also important. If you are primarily working out on a hardwood or cement floor, a thicker workout mat will provide better cushioning for your joints. You might also consider installing mat-style flooring if you spend most of your time in a home gym. Many sports clubs purchase wall-to-wall workout mats capable of covering the entire floor of rooms used for regular exercise and workout equipment. On carpet or outdoors on grass, you may need a workout mat with a more fixed form to keep yourself steady.

Of course, aesthetics will undoubtedly also play into your decision. The best workout mat for you is a mat that you will enjoy using time and time again for your work out, which sometimes hinges at least in part upon appearance. Mats come in a variety of colors and patterns. Pick one that suits your personality or is in a hue that you find pleasing.

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Discussion Comments


@ocelot60- Thanks for the tip. I have been doing stretching exercises on the floor, and have not been very comfortable. I think a thick exercise mat will be best for me. However, I also have to consider space, because I have a small area for exercising. Do these types of mats come in a variety of sizes?


When selecting a workout mat, it is also important to think about how thick you want it to be based on the types of exercises you plan to do.

If you are going to be on the floor a lot, a thicker mat will give you more cushioning. On the other hand, if you are planning to do exercises in which you will be on your feet a lot, a thick mat may not be best for you. A thinner mat will make the floor more comfortable while you do your exercises, but won't interfere with your balance.

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