Types of Exercise Mats & Their Functions
Exercise mats, specifically fitness and yoga mats, are often a staple in many workout routines. Not only are they extremely practical for safety and comfort reasons, they are affordable and can help you achieve a full body workout.
When deciding what mat to purchase, it’s important to remember that the type of mat you buy does matter! All mats are not created equal, and for good reasons.
Often times people use their yoga mats and fitness mats interchangeably, or ask the question “can I just use my yoga mat?”. 99% of the time, the answer is no. The guide below will help you understand the differences between the two types of mats, and why it is important to select the correct one.
Yoga Mats vs. Fitness Mats
Yoga mats are typically the thinnest of all exercise mats. They are generally 1/8th to 1/4th of an inch thick, but can be as thin as 1/16th of an inch. The thickness of the mat is important to help you feel connected to the floor. Think about doing your vrksa, also known as "tree pose", on a thick mat and how difficult it would be to find your center and remain in balance!
Another key feature of yoga mats is their stickiness. The mat must have the ability to stay in place as the user is performing poses and stretches in order to avoid injury. To do this they are often made of PVC, cotton, mesh, or rubber.
Fitness mats are much more versatile than yoga mats. They can be used for a variety of exercises including abdominal workouts, and stretches. Fitness mats are also the thicker of the 2, starting at ½ of an inch thick and going all the way up to 1 to 2 inches thick. This extra thickness is essential to your comfort while doing exercise like abdominal crunches. The width of the fitness mat also allows for higher impact workouts without causing damage to the mat, whereas jumping on a yoga mat with gym shoes on would lend to a very short life of your yoga mat!