What You Need to Know About the Differences Between a Fitness Mat and a Yoga Mat

There seem to be many terms for different types of yoga mats that can be used for exercise. Are they called fitness mats, ab mats, or does everyone refer to them as yoga mats? If they are different, what are the key differences? In this post, we will look at the critical differences between yoga mats and fitness mats. But first, we need to establish what makes a fitness mat and a yoga mat.

What is a fitness mat

In general, fitness mats are used by gym-goers and fitness enthusiasts whenever they need to get on the ground and do some ground workouts. A general-purpose fitness mat is designed to provide cushioning whenever you are doing exercises on the ground. This can include exercises on your core, such as crunches, planks, and leg extensions. These mats are generally a little thicker than the general yoga mat because they are designed to cushion the lower back and spine. This protects these areas from added pressure when performing these exercises. These mats can come as an extended version or a short version. In gyms and other personal training studios, you will find the shorter mats used in conjunction with stretching and core workout areas. The longer mats you will generally find within group training classes or occasionally within pilates classes. In most cases, these fitness mats are not durable enough for people to stand on to perform a workout.

What is a yoga mat

Yoga mats are, in general, much thinner than other forms of mats, especially fitness mats. Yoga mats are designed like this because they are not so much focused on providing cushioning and are more designed for helping yoga practitioners stay stable during a session. However, there are some slightly thicker yoga mats available on the market. These thicker mats may be used for different styles of yoga, which need more cushioning due to more extended periods of deep breathing and meditation or if they are designed for practicing yoga outdoors.

When it comes to yoga mats (especially yoga mats for beginners), it is good to keep in mind that they are designed specifically for yoga practice, and they can vary on the needs of the type of yoga you practice.

The differences between yoga mats & fitness mats

Size & Thickness

The thickness of the material the mat is made out of is a crucial difference between a fitness mat and a yoga mat. As mentioned above, fitness mats are generally much thicker and design than yoga mats. This is because, in most cases, fitness mats' primary purpose is to provide support and cushioning for ground-based workouts. While yoga mats are designed to be much thinner, so it is easier for yoga practitioners to feel grounded and keep their balance during more challenging poses and lunges. All yoga mats are generally the same length, except for yoga mats designed for children, which are shorter in their range. However, fitness mats can be either longer, similar to a yoga mat, or shorter in length, maybe just over half the standard length of a yoga mat. The shorter fitness mats are mostly used stretching and ab & core workouts. While in some cases the longer mats are used in group training classes for each participant to conduct the group workout on their fitness mat.

Storage 

Fitness mats and yoga mats are, in general, stored differently as well. Yoga mats are most commonly owned by each private person participating in the yoga practice. Because of this, most mats used for yoga are rolled up to make it easier to transport. This is why it is much more common for travelers to travel with yoga mats than fitness mats because they are much easier to store. While fitness mats are most commonly hung up on hangers throughout gyms. It is prevalent for fitness mats to come with inbuilt holes so they can be hung up.

Material 

The material the mats are made out of in general differ as well. Yoga mats are more and more becoming focused on making their mats out of environmentally friendly or "eco-friendly" materials. While fitness mats are in general made out of PVC, TPE, and EVA, which are not so user friendly.

When it comes to which mat you should choose, it really depends on which activities you are looking at doing. If the mat were a more all-purpose mat for general fitness activities, we would recommend selecting a fitness mat over a yoga mat. Yoga mats are more specifically designed for holding stability and easier transportation, while fitness mats are designed for more support and cushioning and ground-based workouts. If price plays a crucial role in selecting which mat you will purchase, both options have cheaper alternatives, so it is based on what your needs will be. On the other hand, if you are looking towards more high-quality exercise mats, than there are high priced alternatives for both as well. So to keep this as simple as possible, if you are practicing yoga, we would recommend a yoga mat, if you are looking at more extensive workouts than a fitness mat will be just fine.