If you’re serious about Pilates, then a good mat is a critical tool. In fact, it's one of the only things you truly need to do Pilates. While most studios have the traditional wood and upholstery Pilates mats ready for you, if you plan on doing Pilates at home or while traveling, you probably want something that's easier to move around. A good provides you stability, protects your spine and adds to your practice rather than getting in the way.
Things to Look For in a Good Pilates Mat
There's no one size fits all Pilates mat so we've outlined some things you can consider before making your final decision.
Comfort Comes First
Pilates involves a lot of rolling and lying on your back and sides. A thin mat leaves the pointy parts of your bones exposed and often results in pain which can lead to serious injury in the case of your spine.
For this reason, Pilates mats are typically thicker than your standard yoga mat. A comfortable Pilates mat is generally about 1/2 inch thick if made from medium density foam (some PVC, NBR, TPE) and 1/4 to 1/2 if made from a dense material (some PVC, natural rubber). It provides plenty of cushioning between you and the floor without being cumbersome or getting in the way.
Size of Your Mat and Space
In pilates you need a little breathing room. While your mat doesn’t necessarily have to be huge, I do recommend using a mat that’s larger. Manduka’s Pro mat XL is about 85” for example and makes a great yoga and pilates mat because it’s both thick and dense so it won’t throw your balance in yoga but also provides exceptional cushioning for pilates.
Additionally, consider the size of the space you’re practicing in. If you’re leaving your mat at home and you have the space, you could go even larger (like 4 x 8 feet for example). But if you’re bringing your mat to a crowded class, you’ll probably want to keep it to 85” max.
Will You Slip?
Another consideration is how much you sweat when you’re exercising. If you’re a heavy sweater or your hands and feet tend to sweat a lot, you’ll want something stickier so you don’t slip in practice.
Density of The Mat & Does it Stretch
Some Pilates mats tend to be a little softer and therefore stretch when you put pressure on them. For most this isn’t an issue but it's something to stay aware of since it usually happens when you’re putting pressure on your hands and feet in opposite directions (like you would in downward dog for example). This most likely won’t be an issue for you but if you’ve experienced this before, and found it frustrating, then opt for a denser material.
Is it Easy to Store?
This is not going to be an issue with most Pilates mats because they roll or fold up to fit into small spaces. However, if you’re considering a classic wood framed or extra large mat you may want to take measurements before purchasing.
Advantages and Benefits of a Good Pilates Mat
There’s a number of advantages to owning a good pilates mat. For one, you have the most fundamental tool for pilates and you can practice anywhere you want. Beyond that, a good mat protects your spine and bony parts from getting injured on the hard floor. If you’ve ever tried “rolling like a ball” on a hardwood floor or thin yoga mat, you know exactly what I mean.
Further, your mat provides you with a stable base so that you’re not slipping or sliding on the floor when you’re exercising. And it gives you a space of your own to practice without touching the germ filled floor of a studio.
Benefits of a Pilates Mat:
- Provides a stable base
- Prevents slipping
- Cushions your bony parts and insulates them from the ground underneath you
- Keeps you off the dirty floor
- Gives you a space of your own for practice
Pilates Mat Reviews
There’s so many Pilates and yoga mats for sale that it can take all day to sort the wheat from the chaff. That’s why we’ve gone ahead and taken care of that for you. We’ve narrowed it down to 5 of the best Pilates mats so you can figure out which one meets your needs without spending all day searching or worse, getting a mat that doesn’t work for you.
1. Toplus 6mm TPE Mat
This mat comes in a 6mm (1/4 inch) thick TPE foam that contains no PVC, smell or harmful chemicals. That's great if you're eco-friendly since you don't have to worry about polluting landfills or your body with harsh chemicals.
In regards to size, it comes in a 72 x 24 inch length / width which provides plenty of space for taller individuals but I do wish it came in a wider version. Nevertheless, if you've ever used a standard width yoga mat and been fine, this will be the same width and work just as well.
Both the top and bottom of this mat have a nice grip which means your hands won't slip and the mat will remain firmly planted on the floor beneath you. The mat could also be flipped over and work just as well on either side.
The TPE foam is a medium density that's comparable to PVC. If you need something really dense, you may want to consider one of the other options such as the Manduka Pro mat (below). A good feature of this mat is that it doesn't stretch when you place direct pressure on it so you'll feel stable in all poses. And of course, this mat's relatively thin so its easy to roll up and put in a closet.
The only thing I don't love about this mat is that its only 1/4 inch thick. If you have sensitive joints or you're just starting in Pilates, you may consider something thicker/denser as you'll feel the floor beneath you here. However, the thickness/density of the Toplus mat does make it versatile enough to work for both yoga and Pilates.
- 72" long so it works well for taller people
- TPE foam is free from PVC and toxic chemicals making it safe for your body and the environment
- Waterproof surface so you can easily wipe it clean after class
- No latex so its a good option for those with a latex allergy
- Currently offered in 4, 2 tone colors which are very stylish
- Easy to roll up and store in a small space
- Both sides are non slip so it stays in place when you're using it
- Only 1/4 inch thick which may not be enough for beginners / those with sensitive joints
2. SPRI Airex Coronella Exercise Mat
The Airex mat is a standard in many Pilates studios for good reason. It's just over 1/2 inch thick meaning you'll have plenty of cushioning for your bones and spine during practice which makes this a good option for beginners and those with sensitive joints.
The size of the mat is 72 x 23 inches which, again, I don't love the width but that's because I prefer the extra real estate, not always because I need it. If you're fine with a standard sized yoga mat, you'll be good here too.
The light texture on the surface makes it easy to clean but its not necessarily a big factor for improving grip. The material is soft which means that your hands and feet sink in a little when applying pressure. This prevents slipping but the soft material also has some stretch to it. This may not be a big deal for you but its something to be aware of since your mat may stretch when you're applying high pressure in opposite directions.
The only other downside is that, due to its thickness, it wants to come unrolled after you roll it up so you have to either prop it against something, get a strap to keep it rolled, or tuck it in a corner. Other than that its a great mat that many professionals love.
- 72" long so it works great for taller people
- Used by many professional Pilates studios around the nation
- 0.6 Inches thick which provides lots of cushioning for your bony parts and spine
- Light texture on the surface to help prevent slipping
- Closed cell surface and built in antibacterial agent making it sanitary and easy to clean
- Several colors currently offered
- Want's to come unrolled
- Has some stretch which can be frustrating
3. Manduka PRO Black Mat
Manduka makes high quality products all around. I love their PRO mat since its a dense material that works doubly well for both yoga and Pilates - which isn't always the case with other yoga mats. Their Black Magic mat is a 71" x 26" which is more than long enough for tall people. And a great differentiation is that its 26" wide which gives you extra space to move without going off the sides onto the hard/dirty floor.
At 6mm (about 1/4 inch), it doesn't meet the general 1/2 recommended thickness for a Pilates mat. However, since its made from an ultra dense toxin-free PVC material, it provides the same cushioning and feel of a much thicker mat and it won't stretch during use.
The surface of the mat has a slip resistant, fabric like texture which works well for Pilates and most forms of yoga. Manduka does recommend you break the mat in (here's how) which can further enhance the grippability of your mat. I've found that the grip of this mat is excellent but some people have had problems with slipping so if you have extra sweaty hands and feet you may want to get a yoga towel as well.
The only dislikes about the PRO mat are that its much heavier than most weighing between 7.5 and 9.5 lbs. depending on the size you buy. If you don't mind having a heavier mat or you're not traveling far to class, then this will be fine. But if you want a lightweight mat, this probably isn't the one.
- Guaranteed for life - if anything happens, just send it back and they'll replace it
- Dense material that shouldn't ever stretch or tear
- Several great styles currently available
- Extra long and wide to help you stay cushioned and off the floor in any position
- Closed cell surface for easy cleaning
- Non-toxic, emissions-free manufacturing process
- Latex free so its a good choice if you have latex allergies
- Its a heavy mat
- At the time of writing, its a moderately expensive mat
4. Sivan Health 1/2 Inch Pilates Mat
The Sivan Health mat is a good option if you're just starting out and you're not sure if you'll like Pilates. It's (at the time of this writing) affordably priced so you're out very little money if you decide Pilates is not for you. What I like about this mat is that it's a thick, memory foam like material which is good if you like a slightly softer mat.
Its currently offered in a 71 x 24 inch size which accommodates taller people but doesn't offer any upgrades on width. The downside of this mat is that the softer material (NBR) does stretch and have some give in positions where you're putting opposing pressure on your hands and feet. This makes it a good mat for Pilates but not the best choice for yoga.
The mat itself is very lightweight at about 2 lbs which makes it easy to carry to and from class. Since it's a thicker mat, it does want to unroll when rolled up but you can easily set it against something or store it in your closet until the next use. Overall its a great beginners Pilates mat.
- Thick NBR makes for a softer/squishier feel and helps prevent pressure on your joints
- 71" long to accommodate taller individuals
- At the time of this writing, its very affordably priced
- Currently 8 colors to choose from
- Some people have had problems with the mat tearing in yoga
- Does stretch in some positions
5. STOTT Pilates Deluxe Pilates Mat
The Stott Pilates mat is a quality choice for beginners and advanced practitioners. Its just over 1/2 inch thick (15mm) and made from NBR so it provides plenty of protection for your spine and other bony parts. The dimensions of the mat are 72 x 24 inches making it long enough for taller people and the same width of normal yoga/Pilates mats.
On the surface, there's a gentle ribbed texture which is designed to prevent slipping and works well for Pilates. Additionally, the NBR is soft and indents when you apply pressure which also aids grip so you shouldn't experience any slipping or sticking when changing position.
NBR is not as dense as something like a compact PVC or natural rubber but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The Stott mat is thick and the foam softly wraps around you while giving you lots of protection from the hard floor. This is nice in Pilates and as a general exercise mat (but for yoga this give would interfere with balance).
Even though the mat is thick, it rolls up and its easy to store in a closet or under the bed. The only dislikes about the mat are that it tends to indent rather easily. Other than that this is a wonderful mat for Pilates and exercise.
- Thick NBR that doesn't smell and its lightweight at only 3.5 lbs
- 72 x 24 inches long/wide giving plenty of length for taller people
- Just over 1/2 inch thick providing lots of protection for your spine and bony parts
- Free from Phalates
- Closed cell surface that's easy to wipe clean
While each mat on this list could work well for you, we have a few favorites in mind.
1. Manduka Pro - Black Magic
Manduka wins best overall since its so versatile and guaranteed for life. The material is super dense which means it works equally well for Pilates and yoga (since it doesn't stretch under pressure). The cushioning it provides is great, its non-slip and easy to store.
And while its a heavy mat and (at the time of this writing) more expensive than some of the other mats, its like having two mats in one. It's also guaranteed for life so you never have to buy another mat if you don't want to. In regards to the heavy weight, its worth it. You can feel the quality when you pick it up and if you get a decent strap or yoga bag, you'll should have no problems transporting it to and from class.
Our favorite mat specifically for Pilates is the STOTT Deluxe Pilates mat. Its made from an extra thick NBR which provides lots of cushioning, weighs only 3.5 lbs so its easy to transport and features a closed cell, easy to clean surface. And while its easy to indent, it doesn't harm the integrity of the mat so it's a strong choice if you want a dedicated Pilates/exercise mat.
And finally, our favorite value mat for the practitioner on a budget is the Toplus 6mm TPE mat. At the time of this writing, its an affordable option that works well for Pilates and it can hold its own in light yoga as well. The downside of this mat is mainly that its 1/4 inch thick, medium density foam. This means you'll feel the floor in Pilates so you'll have to decide if you're okay with that.