The foldable gym mat is the original means for instantly transforming any room inside of a home into a training space. Once that mat is unfolded and spread out upon the floor, everyone within eyesight knows that bodies are about to be stretched, flexed and otherwise improved by hook, crook, push-up or plank.
Plenty of my most memorable childhood moments in fitness — well before I had the foggiest idea as to what I was supposed to be doing — took place on foldable exercise mats. These include my very first push-ups and sit-ups, a makeshift Cub Scout jousting competition in our home basement (don’t ask) and also my first concussion when my much older brother donned boxing gloves and popped me in the chin in the ostensible service of teaching me how to defend myself.
So now that we’ve reached an era where there are so many specialized training mats to choose from — including yoga mats, abdominal mats and interlocking protective weight-room mats — what is it that we should be prioritizing when buying a folding gym mat?
Three Things to Look for in Folding Gym Mats
1) Pliancy: Thickness and softness is pretty much the whole ballgame here. In several circumstances, a thick, soft workout mat can be just the thing you need. On the other hand, if what you truly require is a hard, thin mat, having a thick mat can hinder both your concentration and your training.
2) Resilience: Some people require a mat to recline upon for crunches, while others will be practicing full-fledged wrestling takedowns and jiu-jitsu sweeps on them. Aside from the pummeling a mat can take from having weight dropped upon it, the exterior materials also have different tolerances to the cleaning solutions that are applied to them.
3) Adequacy: There are several reasons as to why you might be in the market for a workout mat, but different activities necessitate different attributes. Locating the ideal mat style for your nightly yoga session will be no trouble at all; trying to find the perfect workout mat to adequately accommodate all four of your favorite mat-based hobbies is going to be far more of a challenge.
Now that we’ve laid the groundwork for, well, your groundwork, here are the best folding gym mats on the market…
Best All-Purpose Folding Gym Mat: BalanceFrom GoGym All-Purpose Folding Mat
Why You Should Immediately Unfurl It and Get to Work: The BalanceFrom GoGym All-Purpose Folding Mat is what most people envision when they think about a folding gym mat. If you intend to do any stretching, ground-based calisthenics, tumbling or maybe even a little bit of wrestling or jiu-jitsu, this is among the best multi-use mats you can scoop up that’s also easily stored.
Why You Should Fold It Up and Send It Back: It may be the best all-encompassing option out there, but that doesn’t necessarily make it ideal for everything. If you want to do push-ups or sit-ups, it may be a little too soft and squishy to provide you with the firm surface you’re longing for. Also, if you hope to do any form of tumbling or wrestling that’s going to require safe landings, the mat may be prone to sliding out from beneath you, and its thick surface might still not be adequate to prevent injuries in some circumstances.
The Last Word: If you only plan to own one folding mat for the rest of your life — and you want it to support you adequately in every aspect of training — the BalanceFrom GoGym All-Purpose Folding Mat is the safest choice.
Best Polyurethane Folding Gym Mat: BestMassage Gymnastics Mat
Why You Should Immediately Unfurl It and Get to Work: For some, polyurethane, aka “faux leather,” has a more pleasant feel to it than vinyl. If that’s a factor that you consider when purchasing an all-purpose mat, then the BestMassage Gymnastics Mat may be an excellent option for you.
Why You Should Fold It Up and Send It Back: While this mat may feel more pleasing to the touch than a vinyl one, it still suffers from all of the shortcomings of its vinyl counterpart, including potentially not being nearly specialized enough to satisfy you if you have a specific training purpose in mind. On top of that, polyurethane tends to hold up far less effectively against cleaning solutions than vinyl, so this mat may not endure frequent cleanings.
The Last Word: The best exercise routine is always the one that you’re the most likely to adhere to over time. With that being the case, if you find yourself dreading the feel of vinyl, but craving the touch of polyurethane, that may ultimately matter to the longevity of your training more than you think it does.
Best Individual All-Purpose Folding Gym Mat: We Sell Mats Personal Folding Exercise Mat
Why You Should Immediately Unfurl It and Get to Work: If you need a training surface that has slightly more give to it than a quarter-inch yoga mat, and also something that won’t spread out to a gargantuan length, the We Sell Mats Personal Folding Exercise Mat is nearly two-inches thick, and is still easy to bring to the gym with you — or suitable for times when you don’t need to take up an entire basement floor.
Why You Should Fold It Up and Send It Back: This mat may fold in half, but it’s still more unwieldy than a standard yoga mat. Therefore, if part of the attraction is portability, be certain that you require all of that additional thickness, or you may find yourself unnecessarily carrying around a larger mat than you truly need.
The Last Word: If you’re certain that you don’t require a surface sufficient for both you and a friend to wrestle around upon, but you still require more thickness than you can get out of a yoga mat, the We Sell Mats Personal Folding Exercise Mat is perfect for your apartment floor.
Best Folding Yoga Mat: Feetlu Yoga Mat
Why You Should Immediately Unfurl It and Get to Work: Whether your intention is to perform actual yoga, or you simply want a mat that isn’t too thin or doesn’t have so much give to its texture that your hands and feet sink into it when you do push-ups, the Feetlu Yoga Mat is good for anyone who wants a clean, soft layer between themself and the floor. Plus, it’s neatly segmented, unlike other yoga mats that are designed to be rolled, which ultimately means that it will reliably stack up neatly and spread out flat.
Why You Should Fold It Up and Send It Back: If you intend to perform any activity on a mat that necessitates more than a quarter inch of padding, this mat won’t cut it. It isn’t ample enough to roll around on like a wrestling mat, and the impact from tumbling on it would only be marginally better than landing on the exposed floor.
The Last Word: The Feetlu Yoga Mat should rank high on your list if you’re primarily looking for a shield from the dust and dirt present on the floor while you do push-ups, crunches, leg raises, yoga or other ground-based exercises.
Best Folding Wedge Gym Mat: Giantex Gymnastics Wedge Mat
Why You Should Immediately Unfurl It and Get to Work: The Giantex Gymnastics Wedge Mat is for those who require something truly specialized out of their training mat. It provides its users with a thick, stable, sloped and elevated landing surface that ranges from 4 to 40 inches in thickness. In addition to enhancing the efficacy of some stretches and tumbling exercises, it folds neatly into a cube that can provide a portable, 18-inch platform for box jumps, step-up lunges or elevated push-ups.
Why You Should Fold It Up and Send It Back: For all that elevation, it doesn’t have an extended, flat surface for you to stretch on. Not to mention, if you don’t need a mat to fulfill multiple specialized purposes, you can buy a flat mat and then purchase another implement to use as your elevated workout surface.
The Last Word: If you need a mat that’s capable of being stacked up into a box configuration so that you can elevate your feet for moves requiring that added elevation, look no further than the Giantex Gymnastics Wedge Mat.