Exercise mats come in different shapes and sizes to suit different types of workouts. Here are some of the different types of exercise mats and the fitness programs that require them.
1. Pilates Mats
Pilates mats are similar to yoga mats, though they're often longer and thicker. Pilates mats are made with closed-cell construction, usually from TPE (Thermal Plastic Elastomer). Pilates mats are firm and should offer at least half an inch of padding. Unlike yoga mats, Pilates mats aren't very sticky, and you should be able to wipe them clean easily after use.
2. Yoga Mats
Yoga mats are thinner than Pilates mats, since they're intended for lower impact exercises. Yoga mats can be manufactured from a variety of different materials, including:
- closed cell PVC
Yoga mats are sticky and capable of clinging firmly to a hard floor surface. They're designed to provide cushioning for yoga exercises and to keep the yoga practitioner from slipping and sustaining injury. Yoga mats are easy to clean with soap and water.
3. Fitness Mats
Fitness mats are thick and large. They're generally at least half an inch thick and about five feet long. They're used for crunches and stretching exercises, or any other general exercise you prefer; they can absorb some amount of impact shock and provide cushioning between you and the floor during general exercise. They're made from closed cell PVC and usually also have an easy to clean vinyl cover.
4. Professional Fitness Mats
Professional fitness exercise mats may be one or two inches thick, and are used in gymnastics and other professional sports scenarios, since they're thick enough to absorb almost any shock that might damage the knees, ankles, neck or spine. These mats are large and bulky and even folding professional mats are difficult to store. They're usually present in gyms and fitness classes. They can be made either from standard or extra dense foam, and are usually protected by an easy to clean vinyl cover.
5. Foam Mats
Foam mats are usually two feet square, with interlocking edges, and they're about five inches thick. These mats are used to provide cushioning in martial arts classes. They're also a good choice for those who perform high intensity training exercises. The thickness of these foam mats absorbs impact shock and makes high intensity training easier and less harmful to the joints.
6. Floor Protectors
Floor protector exercise mats are about a quarter of an inch thick and can be over eight feet long and three feet wide. You don't get down on these mats to perform exercises; instead, you put them under your fitness equipment to protect the floor from damage. They should be nonslip to keep your fitness equipment steady and stable while you're using it. They're a great idea for protecting your floor if you use an exercise bike, a rowing machine or a treadmill, and they can also protect your floor while you're using free weights or any other type of weight lifting equipment.