Aerial Equipment part 3: Mats! 

Mats are VERY important safety tools when doing aerial. Many of the aerial studios I’ve trained at have 1 1/2″-2″ panel mat beneath the aerial points. For new or difficult tricks (especially drops) I like to pull a 4-12″ crash mat under the point. I have heard many differences in opinion on what size, type, or the safety of mats that are needed for aerial. I would love to hear in the comments what types of mats you use for training!

My opinion is: I LOVE MATS and the more mats I have the more confident I feel.

Please check out this link to more info about aerial mats: Simply Circus website mats section.

This is a run down on the mats that I have and use at home, where I bought them, and how much they cost.

Round 1:

When I first started aerial I also did some pole dancing. I bought a pole and a small pink panel mat for home use. I bought the mat brand new about 4 years ago off eBay. It is a MatsMatsMats.com mat. It folds twice and is 4×6′. I use it to stretch and it is a great little mat.

mats5

I also use yoga mats and I have a gray foam fitness mat that rolls up. * I just ordered a new yoga mat from Amazon because my little chihuahua had an accident on mine and…well…I just decided it was time for a new mat.
Screenshot 2016-02-27 17.00.15

Round 2:

When I bought my Lyra I wanted a mat that was a bit more robust than a panel mat. My instructor told me that in a gym she trained at they used bouldering pads as mats. I went home and Googled.

Mats are freaking expensive! Wow! (If you don’t believe me do some googling…)

Bouldering/rock climbing crash pads come in all sizes and costs. I choose a Mad Rock Climbing 5″ thick Crash pad.
mats3

  • It is black and 72″x44″ (6 ft x 3 1/2 feet) when laid out.
  • It folds twice into a 24x44x15″ backpack.
  • I choose it because it had good reviews and I could use Amazon Prime.
    Total $250-260.


Pros:

  • Largest portable crash mat on the market
  • I like the 5″ thickness (seems better than a panel mat to me)
  • It’s portable and easy to carry
  • The folds have Velcro coverings so you don’t step into a crack
  • You can sleep on in as a portable mattress if you want 😴
  • (It works great under my slackline…)

Cons:

  • It still seems small to me. I feel like to be completely safe I want 2 of these mats put side by side.
  • It is very firm but over time I think it will relax.
  • I hated the orange logo so I took some fabric paint to it.


These are some other bouldering crash pads I considered:

  • Black Diamond
  • ClimbX-XXX
  • Metolius

Round 3:

Now that I’ve gotten my 24 foot Ludwig Aerial Rig, I really wanted a big crash pad so I can start trying some more advanced skills. And again…

Mats are freaking expensive!

A lot of the 8-12″ crash/landing mats that are used for gymnastics/acrobatics/trampoline/martial arts are rectangles. One problem that I’ve had with aerial is that I pull a mat under me there is a length that is too long and one that is too short. I need to direct my trajectory so I land in the right place. Not a huge issue but it’s been an annoyance for me.

*Anyone else have problems with this, or is it just me?

I thought if I’m going to spend $$$ on another mat…I want it to be a mat that works for me. These were my requirements:

  • 6 foot x 6 foot (a square not a rectangle)
  • 12″ thick
  • Light color (the mat will be outside & the sun heats vinyl up quick in Florida)
  • Portable & easy to store (needs to fold once and have handles)

Then I did a web search and sent out quotes for estimates to 7 different suppliers. (Side note a few replied right away with estimates via email, a few I needed to call to get a response & a few never did respond.) It is worth while to shop around. The prices vary greatly as do the quality. This is what I found:

  • AK Athletics $625 free shipping, no tax. WINNER!!!
  • Resilite $530 + shipping $181 + tax $49.77 = $760.77
  • CoverSports $626.27 + shipping $135.00 = $761.27
  • MatsMatsMats $714.99 + shipping $331.60 = $1046.59
  • GreatMats responded they could not build to my requirements. *I was looking through their website and saw some tiles made out of recycled rubber like they have in some playgrounds…the bouncy kind…I was considering that under my aerial rig because I’m pretty sure the grass is going to die pretty soon. What do you think, good idea/bad idea?
  • RossAthletic & The Mat Warehouse did not respond. 😦

I went with AK Athletics because:

  1. They were priced the best & had free shipping: $625
  2. They were the first to respond.
  3. I liked their customer service the best.
  4. 6’x6’x12″, Tan on top/Black on bottom, folds once, handles on the folded sides.
    Order was placed 1/18/16, shipped 2/1/16, received 2/4/16 (signature required)
    Screenshot 2016-02-27 17.10.12mats2

Pros:

  • This mat is super comfy. * I could easily fall asleep on it.
  • The vinyl is very soft to the touch.
  • It is thick and heavy. The perfect crash mat.
  • I had thought that I might choose something bigger like 8×8′ or 10×10′ but 6×6′ is perfect size for aerial use. *Although for hoop…the 5 inch Mad Rocks on top of my grass works just fine!

mats1

Cons:

  • This mat is LARGE! I cannot lift it by myself (I thought I’d be able to lift it with the handles…). It is easy to drag but not lift. My fiancé is already questioning where everything is going to go. Ugh! I have no where to store it.
  • The seam runs right under my aerial point. I’m afraid that it will come un-done over time. It already looking worn and the seam is pulling apart after just 4 uses. I believe I will use a yoga mat on top of it to try to reduce some to the wear that will happen to it. I will keep you updated.
    mats6
  • The vinyl got REALLY cold (too cold for bare feet when it was around 55 degrees out. I’m worried about how hot it will get during the hot summer days in Florida. Maybe my yoga mat will help. Or maybe I will need to get some type of rug for the top of it.

So far I’m very happy with how my private aerial area is coming together. It has been a great (& expensive) learning experience. Please let me know if you have any questions. And I hope everyone is having a safe and happy aerial time!!

**I am NOT an aerial instructor. I am NOT a professional. My ideas for mats and safety may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to a professional if you have questions. Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts Group is a great resource.

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6 thoughts on “Aerial Equipment part 3: Mats! 

  1. Thank you so very much for all of the research you have done and so kindly posting it! I was looking for a crash mat and an outdoor rig and your online posts have helped me find what I was looking for.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much for this post! I teach Aerial Yoga with only 1/8″ thick six foot round mats. We’ve had a few injuries, and I think it might be time to buy thicker, more protective mats.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It has been about 10 months now since this post. I was wondering how the center fold was holding up on the AK Athletics mat. My wife and I just purchased a rig and we are trying to figure out the most useful mat for us. I love the idea of a folding mat for storage (we will probably have to have an outdoor shed for storage), but I am concerned about the seam being the first thing that is stepped on constantly.

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    • The seam is doing wonderfully. I haven’t seen any more unraveling. I don’t even think about it when I use the mat. Sometimes I put a yoga mat on the middle of the mat but that’s because it gets very hot in the sun & cold in the shade. I’d consider a smaller mat: 8″ instead of 12″ and 5×5′ instead of 6×6′. Although I can drag it across the yard it is very unwieldy and I need help picking it up to carry it over pavers. I love my big unwieldy mat. I love lounging on it after a good aerial workout! Let me know if you have any ore questions.

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing all of your research. Like yourself, I usually research stuff like this exhaustively and become an expert on it, and I enjoy the learning experience. I did a little homework myself, and I also landed (lol) at AK athletics. They now offer as a standard product, what they call the “aerial landing mat” which is a single fold in half 6′ x 6′ x 8″H mat. Seems like the best compromise for something one person can carry around. My only other choice I was considering was qty2 4’x8’x8″ mats to make an 8’x8′ (a 4×8 should weigh sale or a little less than a 6×6). As far as color goes, I think you hit it right with gray. First off it doesn’t get too hot in the sun, but also very importantly, that it doesn’t matter what color silk you have, it is neutral and goes with almost any silk fabric color.

    Liked by 1 person

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