I have been a fitness trainer for over 20 years, and my clients often ask whether or not they really need the best exercise mat. My answer is always yes.
Speaking as someone who has worked at a few dozen fitness centers, I can honestly say that you don't want to use those old nasty mats at the gym. I always bring my own. I love my clients, but I don't particularly want to lay in their sweat.
But there are also other reasons that you should get an exercise mat. For one thing, you can carry many of them anywhere. That means that you can workout anywhere. Another super important reason to get a new mat is that it will protect you from injury and make exercising more gentle on your joints.
And the mat won't just protect you. It will also protect your floor.
But how exactly do you choose the best exercise mat?
ProsourceFit Puzzle Exercise Mat
BalanceFrom GoYoga All-Purpose Exercise Mat
HemingWeigh Extra Thick Foam Exercise Mat
Square36 Large Exercise Mat
Yoga Cloud Ultra-Thick Exercise Mat
Toplus Classic Yoga Mat
Choosing the Best Exercise Mat
No matter what kind of exercise you are doing, at some point you will have to move to the floor. So an exercise mat is essential.
Before you choose the best exercise mat for your workout, there are a few things to consider.
First, let's talk about thickness. If you are using it for yoga, for example, you will want a very thin mat.
The best exercise mat for yoga will be about 1/4-inch thick. Mats for traditional exercise will be thicker.
Next, you should decide what size mat you need. Some of the ones on our list are big enough for two people to work out on, while others are made just to fit your body. So pay attention to the length and width measurements.
Another thing to look for is whether or not the mat is portable. Some of the ones on our list easily roll up and can be carried with included straps. Others fold up and can be stored under a bed or in a closet. And there are some that aren't really portable at all.
Finally, take a look at the materials used in each mat. Some of them are latex or rubber, while others are microfiber, PVC, or polyvinylchloride. You can even find some made of cotton, hemp, and bamboo.
Make sure your exercise mat is healthy for you
One thing that you should know about the PVC and the polyvinylchloride mats is that they are very popular because they're flexible, soft and inexpensive.
However, the downside is that they are more difficult to clean and they can use phthalates, which are known as endocrine disruptors, to make the PVC more flexible. Now that doesn't mean that you should avoid these types of mats.
In fact, PVC can be an excellent choice if you're allergic to latex or want to avoid the strong smell of rubber. Just make sure that you look for a mat that is "phthalate free."
Different Types of Exercise Mats
There are basically four different types of exercise mats: yoga mats, pilates mats, traditional fitness mats, and foam mats. All of them are a little different, and you use them for various activities.
Yoga mats are the thinnest, usually measuring around 1/4-inch thick. Pilates mats are slightly thicker.
Traditional fitness mats are the thickest. And the foam mats fall somewhere in the middle.
What are the different mats used for?
Pilates and yoga mats are very similar, and you can use either of them to do pilates and yoga. The main difference between them is that pilates mats are slightly longer and a little bit thicker than yoga mats.
You can use a traditional fitness mat for things like crunches and push-ups. As we've discussed, they are thicker than the other mats. They're also excellent for shock absorption during general exercise.
Foam mats usually come in squares with interlocking edges. These mats are an ideal choice for martial arts and high-intensity training exercises. The thickness of the foam mats absorbs shock and makes high-impact training less harmful to your joints.
What Thickness Should I Look for in the Best Exercise Mat?
As we've discussed, yoga and pilates mats are usually very thin, and general exercise mats are thicker. But the truth is, you should find the thickness that works best for you.
If you like more cushioning, go for a thicker mat, even if you want to use it for yoga. The best exercise mat is the one that makes you the most comfortable. The mats that made our list this year range from 1/4-inch thick to 1-inch thick.
How We Reviewed
This analysis was an independent review of the best exercise mats on the market this year.
In our process, we examined and compared the features, prices, and consumer and professional ratings for each mat. We have no business or financial ties to any of the companies on our list. Our only goal is to help you find the very best exercise mat that will meet your needs.
The Top 6 Best Exercise Mat Options for 2019
In no particular order, here are our favorite six picks for the best exercise mat this year.
1. ProsourceFit Puzzle Exercise Mat
The first best exercise mat option this year is by ProsourceFit. This mat is an excellent choice if you're looking for something to use at home that you won't be carrying to the gym. The non-skid textured puzzle pieces are lightweight, and you can assemble them quickly.
Likewise, they can also be easily disassembled and stored in a closet. Some of the great features of this mat are that it's water-resistant, noise-reducing, and super easy to clean. It also comes in three colors: black, blue, and grey.
Once you put the puzzle pieces together, your 1/2-inch thick mat will measure 24 square feet.
If you want a smaller mat, you just use fewer squares. The individual pieces are 24 inches by 24 inches. ProsourceFit used high-quality, high-density EVA foam for this mat which provides fantastic cushion and support. Another great thing about it is that it contains no toxic chemicals.
The two biggest reasons that the ProsourceFit made our list for the best exercise mat this year are because it's super affordable and gets outstanding consumer and professional reviews.
Amazon customers rate it 4.4 out of 5 stars.
Most people love this mat, but some complained that the pieces could come apart while you're doing specific high-impact exercises. You can avoid that problem by using some tape or glue on the underside of the mat. Another potential problem with this one is that it isn't portable.
However, if you're looking for a mat for your basement or garage that you won't be moving around too much, this is an excellent option.
2. BalanceFrom GoYoga All-Purpose Exercise Mat
3. HemingWeigh Extra Thick Foam Exercise Mat
HemingWeigh makes another of our best exercise mat picks this year. HemingWeigh boasts that this is one of the thickest exercise mats on the market with a thickness of 5/8 inch. Like the BalanceFrom mat, this one has a two-sided non-slip surface. You can also roll it up and carry it with you anywhere by the included strap. This mat is slightly smaller than the BalanceFrom mat, measuring 70 inches by 23 inches. Another plus for this mat is that it is water-resistant and super easy to clean.
Like our other top picks for the best exercise mat this year, this one gets outstanding reviews. Amazon customers rate it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Most people rave about this mat. In fact, out of nearly 2,000 reviews, a whopping 72 percent of them gave it 5 out of 5 stars.
Many customers commented on the thickness and superior quality of this mat. It's also more durable than most of the other exercise mats on the market. One complaint about it is that people unknowingly purchased knock-off mats that were inferior to the real thing. You can avoid that problem by only buying directly from the manufacturer or Amazon, no third parties.
4. Square36 Large Exercise Mat
Another contender for the best exercise mat this year is the Square36 mat. It is extra large, measuring eight feet by six feet, with a 1/4-inch of thickness. Because it's so thin, it would be great for pilates or yoga.
But this mat can be used for so much more. Square36 calls this mat their "cardio mat" because it's excellent for so many different home workouts. You can use this mat for aerobics, MMA, HIIT, P90X, plyometrics, and so much more. Another great thing about it is that it comes with a lifetime warranty.
On top of that, it also comes with a storage bag and storage straps. You can easily roll this mat up and store it away, but because of the large size, it may not be ideal for carrying to the gym every day.
Of all of the best exercise mat options on our list this year, the Square36 mat is the most expensive, costing from $ to $. But you can't beat the consumer and professional reviews on this one. Amazon customers rate it 4.7 out of 5 stars.
The vast majority of people rave about this mat. People especially love the enormous size of it. Another frequent comment is that it has no smell at all. The only real downside of this one is that it is heavy. It weighs 28 pounds, so you can see that it's not ideal for travel. But if you plan to leave the mat in place this one is hard to beat.
5. Yoga Cloud Ultra-Thick Exercise Mat
As we talked about today, yoga mats are usually very thin. But not all of them. If you prefer a thicker mat for yoga or just general exercise, then this one might be right up your alley. It's four times more abundant than ordinary yoga mats, measuring a full inch of thickness. This high-density foam mat has a non-slip, moisture-resistant surface, and it comes in a wide variety of bright colors.
The Yoga Cloud mat measures 72 inches long by 24 inches wide, so it will fit most bodies. Another great thing about it is that it is very lightweight and can be rolled up and carried by the included straps.
This mat is a little more expensive than some of the other best exercise mat options on our list, but it's still very affordable, costing from $ to $. And it gets some of the best consumer and professional reviews around. Amazon customers rate it 4.8 out of 5 stars. Out of nearly 500 ratings, a whopping 88 percent of them gave this mat 5 out of 5 stars.
Nearly everyone loves this mat. Some people commented that it feels similar to a wrestling mat. It's tough to find a bad review for this one, but a few complained about the smell of it when it is new.
6. Toplus Classic Yoga Mat
Our final contender for the best exercise mat this year comes from Toplus. The thing we love most about this one is that it's gorgeous. The unique, beautiful colors will undoubtedly keep you motivated through your workout. But it's not just a pretty face. This Toplus mat also features a gravel texture with a sticky non-slip surface which will give you superior grip and traction.
This mat is quite thin at just 1/4 inch. And it measures 68 inches by 24 inches. It's also extremely portable. You just roll it up and carry it with the included strap. The Toplus mat weighs a bit more than some of the other best exercise mat picks on our list this year, but it's still lightweight at a little over three pounds.
This mat costs from $ to $, depending on where you buy it. It also gets killer consumer and professional reviews. Amazon customers rate it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
People love this mat, especially because it's non-toxic and odorless. It's also 6P Free, free of the phthalates DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP, and DNOP, making it one of the healthiest choices on our list. As if all of that isn't great enough, it's also good for the environment because it comes entirely from recycled materials. It's difficult to find any negative reviews for this mat, but a few people complained that when they sweat a lot, they had some slippage with their hands and feet.
It All Boils Down to This
There you have it! We love all six of these exercise mats this year, but if you twisted my arm and asked for my overall favorite, I'd probably say the Toplus yoga mat because it's gorgeous. I also love that it's environmentally friendly. A close second is the Yoga Cloud extra-thick mat, which you can use for yoga or any general exercise. Speaking from personal experience, the Yoga Cloud mat is also a favorite for cat naps.
We want to hear from you too! Tell us in the comments section below what you think about our picks for the best exercise mat this year. And let us know if we left your favorite off of our list.
Now, who's ready to go workout?