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Best gym mat

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, and athletes of all levels rely on them frequently.

If you’re looking for a slip-proof, 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 gym mat is built for your specific workouts. Gym mats include crash mats, landing mats, folding panels, foam panels, cartwheel-beam mats and incline mats.

  • Crash mats are among the thickest and most protective mats, suitable for high-impact activities.
  • Landing mats are suited for smaller drops and falls, generally having a thickness of fewer than 2 inches. 
  • Folding panels are common in many sports, as the folding capability allows you to adjust thickness. Many have hook-and-loop tabs on a side or two, letting multiple mats be connected to cover more space.
  • Foam panels can be connected to other mats and stacked easily. Because of their lightweight, 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.
  • Incline mats are perfect for beginners, 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 mat's inner part, consisting of a polyethylene or polyurethane foam filling.

  • Polyurethane is softer, so it's more suitable for practicing landings.
  • Polyethylene is more firm, helping 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 require frequent cleaning after exercising. Even though you may not see it, the sweat and dirt that get on the mat can grow bacteria on it. Use a disinfectant wipe to clean the surface after you’re done. The bacteria that may grow if you don't clean your mat properly can cause skin infections. 

What to look for in a quality gym mat

Water resistance

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

Tear resistance

There are multiple ways that gym mats can resist tears and punctures, such as reinforcing the stitching or adding extra padding on the outer layers. Tear resistance helps assure that you won’t puncture the mat when striking it with your hands or feet. Mats that don’t have some tear resistance can become weaker the more they tear, which can eventually render them useless. 

Handles

When using mats that are thicker and meant for high-impact movement, such as gymnastics, having a handle makes carrying easier. Many manufacturers sew a handle on one side, which lets you fold up the mat and hold it like a briefcase. 

How much you can expect to spend on a gym mat

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

Gym mat FAQ

How firm should a gym mat be?

A. The firmness depends on the exercises you want to do. Mats 1 to 2 inches thick are ideal for practicing rolls and 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 measure the foam's firmness. 

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 them after each fall or roll, because a mat may slip out of place in the stack. 

What is the best gym mat to buy?

Top gym mat

BalanceFrom GoGym All-Purpose Mat

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

What you’ll love: Moisture resistance lets the mat 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

Gorilla Mats Premium Large Yoga Mat

What you need to know: From one of the most reliable brands in the equipment industry, this mat is tough when you want to do powerful workouts. 

What you’ll love: Made from durable components, this 8-millimeter mat is easy on your knees and joints. It's extra large, measuring 7 feet by 5 feet, giving you a lot of room to move. 

What you should consider: It can be challenging to move by yourself. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

We Sell Mats Folding Exercise Gym Mat

What you need to know: This mat's 2-inch thickness makes it suitable for intense workouts, while also being light enough to carry. 

What you’ll love: There are eight colors and patterns, letting you have a stylish, yet effective mat. The pads in the mat have been tested heavily to make sure 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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