The 8 Best Inflatable Gymnastics Mats
This wiki has been updated 18 times since it was first published in November of 2018. When practicing gymnastics it is important to have a safe, cushioned spot to train on in order to help prevent injuries, especially if you don't quite stick the landing. Traditional foam padded mats are great, as long as you have a bunch of space to store them when not in use, which most people don't. These inflatable models solve that problem. Once deflated they can be hidden away anywhere. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 04, 2020:
We've revamped our options to include a couple of models that are sized for other activities besides tumbling, although we've kept plenty that will help you with that, too. These new additions include the AKSport Airspot and the Dairtrack 5-Piece Set. The Airspot is a round model that's relatively small, which makes it portable but also not quite as versatile as some, thanks to the lack of space. It's helpful for various activities, though, including dance and yoga. The Dairtrack set does indeed come with five pieces: a long mat, three air blocks, and an air roller. You can use these pieces to build your skills as you progress from beginner to more advanced, and even use them in the water, if you so desire.
We've also made sure to include a model from popular manufacturer AirTrack, the AirTrack Zephyr 4. Unlike some cheap, no-name choices, it's made from high-quality materials and is assembled by hand — so you can count on it to go the distance. And, like many top-notch exercise mats, it comes in several colors. You'll find various sizes offered in the Zephyr line, too.
November 16, 2018:
We did our best to identify units that can hold air for days without needing constant reinflating. We also wanted to make sure to only include items that came with reliable air pumps, since an inflatable gymnastics mat is useless if you don't have a way to fill it up with air when it is time to practice.
AirTrack Competition Floor An alternative to a standard spring model, the AirTrack Competition Floor allows for adjustability, so all users can enjoy the firmness level they prefer. Two people can set it up in just under an hour, even though it is amply sized at about 45 feet square. us.airtrackfactory.com
The Benefits Of An Inflatable Gymnastics Mat
Also, while foam mats range in thickness, you cannot adjust their firmness as you can with an inflatable model.
If you are accustomed to practicing on a foam mat, using an inflatable one can be an adjustment at first, but you'll quickly see that it has many benefits. For starters, inflatable mats can provide a bouncier landing surface than foam varieties, which some may prefer. Also, while foam mats range in thickness, you cannot adjust their firmness as you can with an inflatable model. Having a landing surface that you have customized to your needs may minimize the severity and incidents of common gymnastic injuries, such as those to the foot and ankle or the wrist and hand (interestingly, women tend to suffer more of the former and men more of the latter).
Inflatable mats are also quite lightweight when fully inflated, meaning they're easy to move between indoor areas and the outdoors, should nice weather make you want to take your practice outside. If you decide to stack several on top of each other to create obstacles and additional challenges, that's also simple due to their manageable weight. You can also try lining several up in a row to give yourself a supportive surface to do multiple cartwheels or a long handstand walk across.
The fact that these can deflate when not in use will come in handy in many ways, too. They pack down compactly for transport to different training areas, like a nearby park, gym, or any other location athletes may want to work on their cartwheels, tumbles, and more. If you're building your portable gym collection, these can make a great addition. Also, since you can deflate and fold these up, they take up very little space in your home when you're not using them, allowing you to transform that spare room from a gym back into an office in a matter of minutes.
What To Look For In Your Inflatable Mat
There are several features of an inflatable gymnastics mat that will help ensure you have an enjoyable and safe practice. One obvious weak point of the inflatable mat is that, should it be punctured, it's useless. That shouldn't be an issue though if you get one made from durable, puncture-resistant materials. Commercial-grade polyvinyl chloride, a popular form of plastic, is often a good choice. It's semi-flexible, yet also quite rugged, so you can take your mat made from PVC outside without fear of objects on the ground popping it. A leak-proof valve will also be an important feature when it comes to keeping your mat sufficiently inflated, and reinforced seams will lessen the chances of tears. Should damage still occur to your mat, you'll appreciate one that comes with a repair kit so you can fix it up.
Commercial-grade polyvinyl chloride, a popular form of plastic, is often a good choice.
When it comes to getting all of the health benefits gymnastics can offer, like improved bone health, flexibility, balance, and agility, you may want a mat that has features that let you to diversify your workouts. Some inflatable mats are equipped with Velcro sides, allowing you to attach multiple units together and create larger landing spaces for carrying out more tricks. For a practice session that best mimics a competition arena, certain mats feature horizontal lines on one side to give the illusion of horizontal bars, and one long vertical line on the other side that resembles a balance beam. Some are one long, uninterrupted unit, while others consist of two separate inflatable pieces, connected by fabric, giving you the option to use them fully extended longways or fold them in half for a thicker mat.
A few other features will enhance the convenience and fun factor of these mats, like sturdy carrying handles at multiple points for easy relocation, quiet air pumps that won't disturb others in your home, and included bags or backpacks for transport. If you're purchasing these mats for kids — who benefit greatly from practicing gymnastics — fun, bright colors might get them excited about the activity. Always make sure the surface is made from non-slip material to help prevent accidents.
Other Things You Can Do With Your Inflatable Mat
You might find that your inflatable gymnastics mat comes in handy for several activities and purposes. Since many of these mats can float, you can drag them into the water and use them for water exercises. Standing on your mat while it's in the water and remaining upright as it tries to move around is a great way to improve balance. Some people line several floating mats up in a line across a pool, and attempt to run across them for exercise, though this should only be done with extreme caution. That being said, if you prefer lower-impact exercise like yoga, and those typical thin, hard yoga mats are tough on your joints, consider trying your downward dog on an inflatable gymnastics mat. Doing so with it floating in a pool is also a great way to work up to stand-up paddleboard yoga. For safety, you should always ensure that the inflatable mat is far away from the sides of a pool anytime you attempt to stand, run, or perform yoga on it.
The top-quality mats can hold air long enough to give you a good night's rest, so you don't have to purchase an expensive blow-up mattress.
If you don't feel like doing any water aerobics, you can simply lay on your mat while soaking in the sun, eliminating the need to also buy an inflatable lounger. It can provide a nice way to enjoy a pool when you don't want to get wet.
One more unconventional way to make use of your mat is to put it beneath your sleeping bag for camping trips, slumber parties, or other times you need a cushioned surface beneath your body. The top-quality mats can hold air long enough to give you a good night's rest, so you don't have to purchase an expensive blow-up mattress. Plus, unlike traditional sleeping mats, these can be deflated when you get up in the morning and tucked out of sight.