1. Health

Before You Buy a Pilates Exercise Mat

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Updated April 08, 2013

Most Pilates studios have Pilates mats, usually very nice ones, and unlike yoga, Pilates students are rarely expected to bring their own. Of course if you have your own mat, you may very well want to take it to the studio, but the real reason to get a Pilates is mat is for your home workout.

Pilates mats are available in a variety of styles, sizes and colors. Read through the following guide and think about what your needs and preferences really are, before you buy!

Pilates Mats vs Yoga Mats

Pilates and yoga mats are similar in that they are about the same size and used for exercises done on the floor. However, a Pilates mat needs to be thicker than most yoga mats. Because there are so many standing poses in yoga, mats used for yoga have to let the practitioner feel the floor. This is not so important with a Pilates mat. In fact, Pilates mats are thicker so that we are padded from the floor. Believe me, rolling exercises like Seal and Open Leg Rocker are no fun without padding! Also, yoga mats are sticky, designed to prevent slipping - an unlikely hazard with Pilates exercises.

The Size of the Mat

  • A good Pilates mat is at least a half inch thick. I see a lot of thinner mats marketed as Pilates mats, but they are really just yoga cross-over mats.
  • A Pilates mat should also be firm. A mat that is too soft will not support balance and alignment properly.
  • Make sure that the mat is long enough and wide enough. Typical roll up mat lengths are 72" - 86", though I have seen them as short as 56". Widths vary from 21" to 39". There are also folding mats, similar to the kinds of mats found in studios, and those are usually significantly larger, 4' by 8' for example.

Roll Up Pilates Mats

The mats that roll up offer the benefits of being portable and easy to find at stores or online. These mats are usually made of dense foam or rubber. To my mind, the closed cell foam mats are the best. They tend to be thicker and firmer than regular foam mats.

Folding Pilates Mats

Folding Pilates mats are very desirable when you get the higher quality types. They are more expensive than the roll up mats, costing up to $300.00 or a bit more. These are closer to what you find in a studio. The higher quality folding mats are heavier and not quite as portable, though they usually do have carrying straps attached. If you want to outfit a home studio, this is the way to go.
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