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How to Choose a Pilates Mat

Updated: Apr 2

Pilates is one of the most accessible ways to improve your strength, flexibility, posture and confidence. It can teach you better bodily awareness while toning and sculpting long lean muscles, all with minimal equipment!


Though some Pilates methods do require a few pieces of specialised equipment, the only truly essential piece you'll need to practise Pilates is a mat and your body!


How to Choose a Pilates Mat
Picking out the right Pilates mat is therefore essential for both beginners and advanced Pilates-enthusiasts alike. It can make the difference between a comfortable and enjoyable class, or a painful and frustrating experience.

Keep reading to find out what differs between the various UK Pilates mat options available and to find out what type of Pilates mat is right for you.


Do You Even Need a Pilates Mat?

The first thing you may be wondering is what specifically sets a Pilates mat apart from other yoga or workout mats. Pilates mats are thicker and firmer than yoga mats, and they're sometimes not as long.


You can shop our eco-friendly Pilates mats here, with currently 30% off (limited time offer).


The thickness is essential as some Pilates moves involve rolling along the spine/ positioning oneself on the hands and knees, perhaps even with added resistance. This can be incredibly uncomfortable without proper support from a thick mat, and the discomfort will cause the student to tense and not properly engage the targeted muscles.


The firmness of Pilates mats is also important since some Pilates movements also involve

weight-bearing on the wrists (plank position) or are done standing up.


It can be difficult to balance standing on a thick and squishy mat, and it's even more problematic to use overly-soft mats with flexed wrists since it can cause wrist pain.


Because of these two factors, you'll need to specifically select a Pilates mat instead of shopping for a general use one.

How to Choose a Pilates Mat
Even within the category of UK Pilates mats there's still quite a bit of choice.

Here are some factors to consider while shopping:


The Materials To Look For

Many affordable Pilates mats are made of foam. This makes them lightweight and easy to transport, but they're prone to quick wear and tear. Those materials tend to flake apart and the edges may stubbornly curl up from being stored rolled up. They also likely won't be firm enough to offer proper support.


For these reasons, it's better to look for a mat made of natural rubber, TPE, PU, or even PVC. PVC is the least green of these options, but it does offer a durable and grippy surface ideal for Pilates.


PU, TPE or natural rubber are the best materials to select, but it's important to note that rubber will be heavy and more difficult to travel with.


How Thick Should It Be?

While Pilates mats should certainly be thicker than yoga mats, there's no exact range of thickness to aim for since everyone has a different personal preference.


The thinnest Pilates mats are usually around 4mm, and thicker ones can go all the way up to 20mm. Thinner ones are of course easier to stow away and carry around, but thick ones offer a more cushioned experience on the joints which some people need.


Do You Need Grip?

Regardless of the style of Pilates you're practising, you'll need a grippy surface. It can be difficult and even dangerous to practise Pilates on a slippery mat, so avoiding foam mats is wise.


Any other material should be sufficient for grip, but if you have a particularly intense practice where you sweat a lot, you may find a PVC mat to be helpful since it offers the most traction. Textured surfaces can also offer additional grip, but they may be harder to clean.


Size Matters

Another basic factor to account for is what size Pilates mat you need. It's preferable to use a mat that's at least as long as you are from head to toes lying down, but smaller mats can alternatively be used if your space or travel requirements don't allow for a full sized mat.


Durability

You'll also want to consider the durability of a Pilates mat before deciding which one is right for you. Most of the very low price-point mats available in the UK aren't very durable.


This may be perfectly fine if you only expect to use it on occasion or aren't willing to invest more at this time, but if you plan on using your mat regularly it's well-worth spending a few extra dollars for something that lasts.


Rubber, PU, PVC and are all very durable materials. TPE is also decently durable, but it can dry out since it has an open cell structure, so you'll want to keep it out of direct sunlight or cold environments.


How Do She's Different Eco Friendly Mats Measure Up?

The mats at She's Different are highly durable, have a non-stick surface, and they're made of eco-friendly PU and natural rubber. They offer a lot of value for their affordable price point, and they'll live up to many years of extensive use.


The She's Different mats are on the thinner side, so they're best for those without joint issues, or else you may one to layer up two mats or use a Pilates knee pad for a more cushioned experience.


How to Choose a Pilates Mat
They also roll up for easy storage and travel, and better yet, they're machine washable! This makes taking care of these beautiful mats incredibly easy.

Key Takeaways

Overall, there's no single perfect mat for everyone. You'll need to consider the amount of cushion you want, what size you can fit in your space, and if you'll be travelling with it or practising from home.


If our eco-friendly She's Different mats fit your needs, we encourage you to take advantage of our limited time 30% off festive offer this holiday season. Give yourself or someone you love with the gift of movement this year.


To learn more about the wonderful world of Pilates, including how to prepare for your first Pilates class, check out our Pilates & fitness blog, and to book a class, head over to our bookings page.


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