The 3 Best Pilates Mats to Buy in 2021

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Most dedicated Pilates studios have Pilates mats which are crafted from wood bases and upholstered artfully. Unlike yoga, in such studios, Pilates students do not arrive at workout with their own mats. So what do Pilates practitioners do when they want to work out away from the studio? A yoga mat? Not quite. They use at home exercise mats that are specifically suited for Pilates

A Pilates exercise mat is your most basic piece of Pilates equipment. Having a workout mat that you like will go a long way toward ensuring you stick with a consistent home workout program. If you do need to take a mat to your studio, it becomes important to have one that travels well. These Pilates mat reviews will help you get a sense of the variety of portable workout mats that are available. 

Before you load up your shopping cart, read on to find out what styles, specifications, and materials are appropriate for a Pilates workout. If possible, test-drive a mat before making a commitment.

Here are the best Pilates exercise mats on the market, for workouts at home or at the studio.

The Reversible Eco Conscious Mat

Eco Pilates and Yoga mat from Gaiam. Credit: http://www.gaiam.com/yoga-mats/

This reversible, latex free, non-toxic Pilates mat is made by Gaiam. The eco-conscious factor is the selling point, along with the price which is good for an eco mat. On the other hand, it is thin and it is not the sturdiest workout mat on the studio floor. But if you have sensitivities to latex and chemicals in other mats, you may want to try this one. Plus, the thinness allows you to use this mat for yoga as well.

The Aeromat from Balanced Body

The AeroMat by Balanced Body. Credit: http://www.amazon.com/Aeromat-Fitness-Mats-Black/

This is currently my favorite portable Pilates mat. It's a nice, thick mat that offers good protection for rolling exercises even on a hard floor, yet isn't too squishy. This mat has a basic closed cell workout mat construction. However, I did not a have any fumes issue with this mat. It aired out as quickly as an eco mat. Size: 72" x 23" x 5/8" 

STOTT Pilates Express Mat

Stott Pilates Express Mat. Credit: http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/product

A plus for this mat is that the velcro straps are part of the mat so you can roll it up and take it anywhere easily. It is a thick mat, similar to the Aeromat above, but maybe a little less dense. For me, the downside of this mat is that it produced toxic-smelling fumes for two months after I bought it. I kept it in the garage. Now it has aired out completely and is a fine, medium-grade thick mat. Size: 70" x 21.75" x .375"

Yoga Mats vs. Pilates Mats

Pilates and yoga mats are similar in size, but otherwise have very different features that reflect some of the differences in the practices.

Pilates Mat
  • Thicker (3/8" to 1/2" thick)

  • Slicker surface

  • May be larger

Yoga Mat
  • Thinner (1/8" thick)

  • Sticky surface

  • Standard size (2' x 6')

What to Look for in a Pilates Mat

Density

For Pilates, it is imperative that the mat is thicker and/or denser than a yoga mat. Yoga employs many more standing exercises which require a thin mat that supports better proprioception and balance. Pilates, on the other hand, uses the mat for a larger volume of exercises on your back and your stomach. Pilates also requires students to perform a significant amount of spinal rolling exercises. Try those on a thin yoga mat and you'll say one word. Ouch! 

Some newer materials are successfully combining density and cushioning in a lower profile, thinner mat (three-eighths of an inch). What's most important is that you physically test the mat. You have two options with respect to density. One is a thick, dense mat that provides enough cushioning for your spine in a very firm mat. But you can also choose a gymnast mat which is much thicker, yet far less firm. The softness of a gymnastics mat means you'll get less support and that can actually provide a bigger challenge to the body. 

Select a mat that is dense enough to pad your spine but offers cushioning according to your preference. Firm mats have their place, but softer mats are also very useful for Pilates at home. 

Finish

Yoga mats also make use of a sticky finish which helps prevent slipping in poses that require balance. Pilates exercises don't rely on this feature and many exercises benefit from a slicker surface area. ​​

Size

Standard yoga mats are roughly two feet wide by six feet long. A full Pilates mat routine can certainly be accomplished on a yoga mat of this size. However, as your practice advances, you may have more options on a slightly wider mat. If space is not a limiting factor, search for an old school gymnasium mat where you can stretch out and use the full surface available.

Select a mat that suits your personal space. If possible, a variety of industrial-size fitness mats are available in many sizes. A four-foot by eight-foot mat is perfectly viable for a home Pilates mat. 

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I do Pilates without a mat?

    You should always use a mat for your own protection. If necessary, you could perform Pilates on a soft, giving floor. Carpet is uneven and you can get fibers in your hair.

    If you want the best Pilates mat, consider purchasing one from a specialty Pilates manufacturer. They sell to individuals as well as studios. Studio-style mats have options for accessories like wooden dowels for your hands and small boxes and straps that hook on for your feet. Price out your favorite, customize your color and wait for the huge crate to ship your mat directly to you.
    Professionals outfit their studios from a few key suppliers including Gratz Pilates, Pilates Designs by Basil, Balanced Body, and Peak Pilates. You can also find plenty of used Pilates equipment online if you take some time to investigate.

  • How do you clean a Pilates mat?

    You don't need anything fancy to clean a Pilates mat. Combine a few drops of basic dish soap with warm water. Then add the liquid to a spray bottle and spray the mat down, scrubbing firmly but not too hard. Dry with a towel. Flip the mat over and repeat. Hang the mat over your shower door or shower curtain bar to air dry.

  • How thick should a Pilates mat be?

    A Pilates mat should measure more than six millimeters (one-quarter inch) in thickness. You need a Pilates mat to be thicker than a yoga mat to cushion your spine in floor exercises.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

Marguerite Ogle, MS, RYT, is a writer and Pilates instructor with more than 35 years of experience. She has a demonstrated history of working in the health, wellness, and fitness industries, and she is an experienced natural wellness and life coach.

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At Verywell Fit, our Expert writers are committed to researching and writing thoughtful and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your life and your family. If you like what we do, you can support us through our chosen links, which earn us a commission. Learn more about our review process.

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