I'm contemplating buying a new yoga mat, and while I am leaning toward the Manduka eKO Mat, I'm open to suggestions. So I was totally game when G2 Lifestyles contacted me about its Yoga TrainerMat ($30). G2 Lifestyles has created a line of mats that are illustrated with a series of poses, exercises, or stretches.
While I liked the mat for my home workouts, I didn't (and wouldn't) bring it to the yoga studio. I think the bright green and pink color scheme coupled with the illustrations have the potential to be really distracting and raise a few eyebrows from my classmates. I did, however, love it for doing yoga at home: since there is a series of poses on the mat itself, I didn't have to use a DVD, the Internet, or my sometimes shoddy memory. Instead, just roll it out and get to it! I felt that the illustrations were easy to follow too. Each pose is illustrated along with its name and a set of simple directions. (Example: Warrior Pose, hold for 30-60 seconds on each side.) But what I liked best about this mat is how thick and cushiony it felt. At a dense 1.5 inches thick, I definitely felt supported. I also had no problems with the stickiness of the mat. I used it on my hardwood floors and it stayed in place fine. It's also antimicrobial and really easy to clean.
To find out what I didn't like about this mat, read more.
Here's the thing, this mat really smells. Before I even felt comfortable using it, I had to air it out in my hallway for almost two weeks. No one wants to be smelling rubber during their practice! Unfortunately, a funky smell is the case with most eco-friendly mats. They are better for the environment because they are made with natural rubber and other eco-friendly materials, but the trade-off is that they tend to smell. The good news is that the smell is going away, making it a nonissue over time.
While I haven't tested the mat long enough to talk about durability, the G2 website does say the mats come with a "lifetime warranty." I'm mostly curious to know how well the illustrations will hold up over time, especially if you sweat a lot. Besides the Yoga TrainerMat, G2 Lifestyles also makes mats for Pilates, abs, back health, golf, stretching, and maternity, and each purchase gives you access to the G2 Fitness online library of instructional fitness videos.
The Yoga TrainerMat is a great buy if you're into working out at home, and looking for an environmentally friendly mat. The illustrations are helpful and it's soft, but the smell is a bit off-putting at first.