Home Equipment – 1: Mats

Well here we go! The first in a seemingly limitless series of posts on fitness equipment you can use at home. I'll be starting a page that will have links to all the posts in the list as it grows but for now it's just this one.

Each of these posts will include one or more images with arrows pointing to the equipment's location in my home gym. Unless it's equipment I don't actually have, of course.

The most basic piece of fitness equipment you can use at home is a mat. You don't really need any mats. But they sure come in handy.

The most common is the ubiquitous "yoga mat" which can be seen traveling around town in stylish bags. This is a thin, easily rolled mat that can be used for things like yoga (duh), Pilates, and any floor exercise that can be made a bit more comfortable with some padding. But it's not just comfort: the mat can also protect the floor from sweat. Mats are much easier to clean than carpet, for example.

You'll notice there's no image from my home gym for this one. I don't have a yoga mat. But I have other mats.

If you have dedicated space for a home gym--like I do--you can turn the floor into one big mat. This is super convenient for several reasons:

  • You can do floor work anytime without setting up a mat first.
  • It protects the floor from heavier equipment.
  • It can protect equipment from a concrete floor.
  • It's easy to keep clean.
  • It looks snazzy.

I use these interlocking squares which come in kits. They're available at most big hardware stores. These are two-foot squares with separate pieces for the edges. They're easy to set up.

One potential downside: some cats like chewing on the mats.

For some exercises, a bit of extra padding can be nice. It's certainly not a high-priority item but can be helpful. (I actually got mine to sleep on when I moved cross-country but my furniture was late arriving.) This one folds in half for easier storage.

Finally, I also use horse stall mats which are very heavy-duty. I got mine at Tractor Supply Co. These aren't just heavy-duty...they're heavy! So again they're best for dedicated spaces where you don't have to move them.

I use mine to protect the floor from dropped plates (those darn heavy deadlifts). Commercial gyms use them to protect the floors also. They're not cheap and are hard to cut, but they're very effective. The mats are cheaper than floor repairs and your back will be happy to not have to lower very heavy weight to the floor slowly and carefully. (Again, deadlifts!) Also they've so far been immune to cat chewing.

Mats can protect both you and your floor. A simple yoga mat is inexpensive and portable but as we've seen there are other options. If you're just getting started with home fitness, this is the first thing I'd recommend getting.

Be seeing you.

-gary

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