With so many different exercise disciplines to choose from such as, cardio, free-weights, yoga, etc. there is an abundance of home exercise mats and yoga mats available in the market, which can drive a lot of confusion when trying to select one. In this article, we will review the old dogs in the market (large exercise mats and yoga mats) and how they compared against the new mat around the block, the hybrid mat. This guide will help you select the best exercise mat for home and outdoor activities.
PS: See our infographic chart at the end of this article for a quick summary of all mats and features.
What Are Exercise Mats:
Design primarily for bodyweight exercises, these mats tend to be thicker (1-3 inches) and less dense (sponge/foam alike). Because of this, they protect floors from scratches and wear from the repetitive motion of floor workouts. They also focus on providing the user with enough cushion, especially necessary for floor exercises such as abs and planks, as well as providing joint protection. Although large exercise mats are the most common, you can find them in all sizes.
However, because of their cushion focus, they often miss out on providing good support, which means they will affect balance and proper body alignment. For this reason, they should be avoided for Yoga practices. Additionally, they should never be used with shoes on, as their foam materials tend to be easily damaged.
What Are Yoga Mats:
Created with Yoga as the main focus, these mats tend to be ¼ inch thin or lower, and are often much firmer than exercise mats, in order to provide additional support. They also tend to be smaller and lightweight such that users can take them anywhere. This can be a con, as many people are often left wanting a large yoga mat that would cover more of their floors are carpet. Among their main characteristics, there is grip and non-slip, making them ideal for barefoot practices, especially when the body starts breaking a sweat.
Just like exercise mats, their main benefits drive their major cons which include: very little to no cushion, no noise or impact absorption, and it is also not recommended to utilize shoes on them as they are easily scratched and ripped.
We should also mention that there is a third type of mat, often called “Gym mats” which refer to thick, large, firm, heavy mats designed to be used with shoes on and weights. These are the kind of mats you would find as flooring at a gym. Their main benefit is that they reduce noise and impact from weights and bodyweight exercises, while also allowing the use of shoes and not wearing down as easily. Of course, the main issue with them is that they tend to be very heavy (40 to 50 pounds and over), may have a strong rubber smell (tire-like smell), and have no cushion as they are focused on support.
The Solution: Hybrid Mats!
The new mat on the market that is an exercise mat, a yoga mat, and a gym mat all-in-one. While most companies are focused on providing either option, FIT FIERA wanted to bridge the gap and offer a single mat that excels at everything. “Our mats offer a durable surface that can be used with shoes for explosive workouts, and is also gentle enough that can be used barefoot for yoga practices.” They accomplished this while maintaining the best characteristics of all types of mats: large area, light-weight, free weights resistant, a balance between cushion and stability, and of course high-grip.
Specially designed for home and outdoor workouts, the mats have the large area of a gym mat, coming at 6 by 4 feet (twice the width of a yoga mat), and at only 14 pounds (1/3 of the weight) making them easy to roll and store between exercises. They can also be used with free weights like dumbbells and kettlebells as they are ¼ inch thick and made of a durable polymer material.
These mats provide a great balance between cushion and support making them great for Yoga practices and floor exercises. This also brings the added benefit of no joint pain on your knees from highly dynamic exercises and a good amount of noise reduction. This last one will keep your neighbors happy.
Lastly, the top surface is coated with an anti-slip material to provide grip on dry and sweaty practices, including hot yoga.
If you are in the market for the best large yoga mat or large exercise mat, you have to check these hybrid mats out.