When you think of inflatable gymnastics air track mats, your thoughts probably jump directly to sports like gymnastics and cheerleading. But these kinds of mats are also great for perfecting moves in sports like martial arts and parkour.
Gymnastics air track comes in different lengths to accommodate the space you have available. Those models with dual valves give you the best control over air pressure and if you really want to create the ultimate tumbling space, be sure to look for models with splicing features so you can secure several mats together. FBsport provides custom-made for that.
If you’re ready to buy but not sure what to look for or where to start your search, you’re in the right place. We’ve put together a shopping guide that will take you through the features and considerations that will help you find the perfect inflatable gymnastics mat for you.
Inflatable gym mats are generally around 3 to 3./5-feet wide, with a depth/height of 4 to 8 inches. However, there’s far more variation in length options with a range of 1.5 to 39 feet.
Before deciding what’s right for you, you’ll need to consider the space you have available in which to set up the gymnastics air track mat, as well as how the mat will be used. For some activities, such as martial arts or yoga, you may only need 4 or 5 feet to successfully practice a skill. Or, you may only need an additional takeoff point, which could be done with a small 2 by 2 ft mat.
Other sports and skills used for tumbling and cheerleading may need the space to practice several skills done in succession. If you have limited space, measure carefully. If space isn’t an issue, for the sake of safety, always err on the side of too long rather than too short.
These mats are designed to protect the body during complex aerial maneuvers, which means the materials have to be of top quality.
Durable and strong, PVC is often used as outer covering for these mats. The topside of the mat may have a softer coating to protect the skin from scrapes and abrasions.
Double-wall or drop-stitch
Double wall or drop-stitch technology has been around for decades. This technique involves thousands of polyester threads that connect two woven pieces of polyester. The threads allow the mat to be filled to a high pressure yet maintain a flat surface. Without the threads holding the polyester in place, the mat would bulge under the necessary air pressure.
Rail tape, which is usually made of PVC, wraps around the outer edge of the mat to secure seams and the area around the valves.
1. Carrying handles
You may be able to inflate the inflatable gymnastics air track mat and position it in the area in which it will be used. But, then again, that might not always be the case. Carrying handles on both sides allow you to carry or slide the mat into position.
Handles with a rubber coating or finger grips provide better control. The longer the mat, the more handles it should have. Some mats are long enough that they may take four to six people - each using one handle - to move.
2. Dual valves
The key to the successful use of a gym mat is controlling the air pressure. A dual valve design provides more control, allowing you to fill or let out air to reach the right pressure without affecting overall inflation. One valve is typically used for inflation while the other allows for pressure adjustment.
3. Splicing features
Inflatable gym mats are only between 3 and 3.5-feet‘ wide, which may not be enough room for some uses. Some mats have Velcro strips on the edge of the bottom side. A connector strip can then be used to attach two mats for side-by-side placement and use.
Manufacturers may include a connector strip with the mat while some will have to be requested or purchased separately. FBsport provide custom-made option.
4. UV coating
Backyard tumbling can be the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise. Some gymnastics air tracks have a protective UV coating to reduce sun damage to the mat. We don’t recommend leaving the mat in the sun long-term as even a UV coating can only do so much to prevent the breakdown of PVC.
5. Orientation markings
The task of staying centered when you’re using the mat isn’t always easy. Almost all inflatable gym mats have a thick center line that extends down the entire length of the mat to aid orientation. Some mats also have a cross line that divides the mat at the short center axis that marks the halfway point.
6. Extra accessories
- An air pump: If there’s one accessory you want included with the mat, it’s an air pump. Luckily, a high-speed pump is almost always included. Of course, FBsport is included. These mats take a lot of air pressure to provide adequate protection, which can take a long time to reach with a regular air pump. If you do have to buy a pump separate from your mat, don’t skimp. Choose a good quality, high-speed model.
- Carrying bag or case: A carrying bag increases the portability and storage ease of the gymnastics air track mat. Handles on the carrying bag are an even bigger bonus, as they are so much easier to use once the mat is packed tight and ready to go.
- Repair kit: Any inflatable tool or piece of equipment runs the risk of punctures. Definitely look for a mat that includes a repair kit. Most patch jobs can be done at home as long as you have the right tools, which a repair kit will include.
- Inexpensive: Small, square inflatable mats start around $100. These mats have the same construction as larger models, but lack handles and orientation markings as they’re usually not necessary.
- Mid-range: Longer mats that range from 5 to 10 feet run between $100 to $350. These mats have carrying handles, orientation lines, and Velcro strips for splicing.
- Expensive: Once you get to the 13-foot mark, there will be little changes in the quality and features of the mat. Overall, longer mats cost more. Prices for the longest mats, around 39 feet, can reach well over $1,000.
- Clear the area before using the gymnastics air track mat. Even with orientation markings, it’s easy to drift off the mat, especially when performing multiple skills. Make plenty of space to the sides, at the head, and at the end of the mat so you don’t hit or run into anything.
- Watch out for heat and sharp objects. Inflatable gym mats are incredibly durable unless they get overheated or punctured. Heat weakens the PVC, which can lead to bulges and weak spots.
- Inflatable mats aren’t just for land. Many models are waterproof and can be used next to or in a pool for water yoga or general water play. However, check the manufacturer’s recommendations as not all mats may be intended for this use.
Q: Is there a risk of the mat sliding while in use?
A: Inflatable gymnastics air track mats have a non-slip surface on both sides. The top side may have a velvety or rubberized texture that provides better traction but also protects the skin from abrasions. The bottom side will have a gripping texture that holds the mat in place but isn’t as skin-friendly. This side will also have the Velcro strips for splicing mats together.
Q: Can an inflatable gym mat be used on grass?
A: Always read and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for use. Having said that, most mats can and are approved for use on grass. However, they may need a protective barrier between the mat and the ground. This protective base can help prevent punctures as well as keep dirt and debris off of the mat surface.
Q: Should the mat be folded or rolled for storage?
A: To prevent creases from forming while not in use, the mat should always be rolled. It’s easier to roll the mat if it has been completely deflated. Be aware that it might take some trial and error to figure out how tightly the mat should be rolled to fit inside its carrying case.