Best gym mat

Fitness Equipment

Some Olympic athletes use gym mats to practice their gymnastics.

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Which gym mat is best?

Exercises and sports that involve contact with people or hitting the floor hard are reliant upon gym mats, no matter how simple the mats may look. These mats can provide a cushioned, yet sturdy surface when coming in contact with it, and athletes of all levels rely on it frequently.

If you’re looking for a slip-proof and versatile gym mat, the BalanceFrom GoGym All-Purpose Mat is the top choice. 

What to know before you buy a gym mat

Types

Not every mat is built for your specific workouts. Various types of gym mats include crash mats, landing mats, folding panels, foam panels, cartwheel-beam mats and incline mats. Crash mats are one of the thickest and protective types of mats, suitable for high-impact activities. Landing mats are suited for smaller drops and falls, generally having a thickness of less than 2 inches. 

Folding panels are common in many sports practices, as the folding capability allows you to adjust thickness. Many models have hook-and-loop tabs on the a side or two, allowing multiple mats to be connected together to cover more space. Foam panels can be connected to other mats and stack easily and because of their light weight, they are more susceptible to slipping when in use. 

Cartwheel-beam mats are ideal for gymnastics beginners. One side has markings that guide where to place your hands and feet for cartwheels, while the other side has a long strip to help practice balance beam routines. Perfect for beginners, incline mats are specially designed to help guide users to do a basic roll. 

Construction

Gym mats generally consist of the core and cover. The core is the inner part of the mat, consisting of a polyethylene or polyurethane foam filling. Polyurethane is softer, which is more suitable for practicing landings. On the other hand, polyethylene is more firm and will help users stay more in control of their activity on the mat. Some mats use both materials to provide a combination of cushioning and control.

Cleaning

Gym mats will always require frequent cleaning after exercising. Even though you may not see it, the sweat and dirt that comes on the mat can grow bacteria on the surface. It’s best to use a disinfectant wipe to clean the surface after you’re done using it. Failing to clean your mat properly can cause bacteria to grow and can even cause skin infections. 

What to look for in a quality gym mat

Water resistance

If gym mats are not able to dry off small amounts of moisture on their own, they’re more likely to grow bacteria on their surface. Look for good quality vinyl and leather mats that are resistant to water.  

Tear resistance

There are multiple ways that gym mats can have tear or puncture resistance, such as adding extra padding on the exterior layers or reinforcing the stitching in the mats. The tear resistance helps keep you rest assured that you won’t puncture the mat when striking it with your hands or feet. Mats that don’t have some type of tear resistance can become more weakened the more they tears, which can eventually render the mat useless. 

Handles

When using mats that are thicker and meant for high impact movement, such as gymnastics, having a handle on the side makes carrying simpler and easier. Many manufacturers will simply sow the handle on one of the sides, which allows you to fold up the mat and hold it like a briefcase. 

How much you can expect to spend on a gym mat

The prices of gym mats can range from $16-$600, but if you want simple and inexpensive foam panels, they only cost about $16-$18 per panel. Mats with sturdy vinyl covers and firm cushioning can cost from $60-$300, while specialty and crash mats cost from $200-$300. 

Gym mat FAQ

How firm should a gym mat be?

A. The firmness will depend on the specific exercises you want to do. Mats between 1 to 2 inches in thickness are ideal for practicing rolls, cartwheels or providing extra cushion for calisthenics. Mats with polyurethane foam cores or bottom layers tend to have identification load deflection/indentation force deflection numbers, which help measure the firmness of the foam. 

Which cover is better: leather or vinyl?

A. Mats with vinyl covers cost less and are more durable than leather, and vinyl can offer more of an anti-slip feel than leather. However, leather covers feel more comfortable than vinyl, which is why they are also more expensive. 

Can gym mats be stacked up to provide extra protection?

A. Mats can be stacked up on one another to increase cushioning for impacts. However, you may need to readjust the mats after each fall or roll, because one mat may slip out of place out of the stack. 

What are the best gym mats to buy?

Top gym mat

BalanceFrom GoGym All-Purpose Mat

BalanceFrom GoGym All-Purpose Mat

What you need to know: Packed with special features, this gym mat can be used for aerobics, Pilates, gymnastics and more. 

What you’ll love: The moisture resistance allows the mat to dry up quickly, especially after you’ve cleaned it. It’s puncture resistant, making it highly durable and less susceptible to tears. 

What you should consider: The stitching can weaken after frequent use. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top gym mat for the money

Everlast Folding Gym Mat

Everlast Folding Gym Mat

What you need to know: With one of the most reliable brands in the equipment industry, this mat is reliable when you want to do calisthenics and other small workouts. 

What you’ll love: The folding ability and attached handle makes the mat easy to carry when traveling with it. The shell is non-absorbent, so the mat will retain its firmness when in use. 

What you should consider: This is less suitable for practicing gymnastics routines. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

We Sell Mats Folding Exercise Gym Mat

We Sell Mats Folding Exercise Gym Mat

What you need to know: The 2 inch thickness of this mat makes it suitable for intense workouts, while also being light enough to carry. 

What you’ll love: There are a variety of colors and patterns to choose from, allowing you to have a stylish, yet effective mat. The pads in the mat have been tested heavily to make sure that they are safe for children to use. 

What you should consider: The mat may be too firm for some.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Ade Hennis writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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