Choosing your first Air Track - an introduction to tumbling mats

Written by Powertrain Sports,  21st January 2022 | Updated: 19th March 2023

So you've decided that an Air Track is the most suitable option for you, which one will you buy? Well, the answer to this question has many aspects, like: How much space do you have available? How old are the users of the Air Track? What activities will you be using the Air Track for?

Various sizes and shapes of air tracks
Various sizes and shapes of air tracks

What is an air track, and how does it differ from a traditional tumbling mat?

An air track is a type of tumbling mat that is inflated with air using an electric or manual pump. It's made from durable materials such as PVC and drop stitch fabric, which allows it to retain its shape and provide a consistent surface for tumbling and gymnastics practice.

Compared to a traditional tumbling mat, an air track offers several advantages. For one, it is typically thicker and more cushioned, which provides better shock absorption and reduces the risk of injury. Additionally, it can be easily adjusted for different levels of firmness depending on your preferences and skill level.

Air tracks are also highly portable, as they can be deflated and rolled up for easy transport and storage. This makes them an ideal choice for athletes who need to practice on the go, or for those who have limited space at home.

Overall, an air track is a versatile and practical choice for anyone looking to improve their tumbling and gymnastics skills. With its superior cushioning, portability, and durability, it's no wonder that more and more athletes are making the switch to air tracks.

What type of Air Track do I need?

There are several different types which can be broken down into three general categories: round mats (Air Spots), square mats (Air Blocks), and rectangular mats (Air Tracks).
These are the most common types of inflatable mats available. The different shapes will help you identify which one is best suited for your needs depending on where it's going and who will be using them. Factors to consider are the age and ability of the user and the space you have available. (see below for a guide)

Three metre by one metre rainbow Air Track
Three metre by one metre rainbow Air Track

How thick should an Air Track mat be?

Is a 10cm or 20cm AirTrack better?
In Australia, Air tracks for home use come in two heights (thicknesses), 10cm and 20cm. Because they are inflatable, Air Tracks provide impact protection so there's support for safe landing and reduced chance of injury or jarring in case of a bad landing or fall.

Air track mats are thick enough to withstand great force, with mats usually 10-20cm thick. A thicker mat provides a safe landing for gymnastic and aerobic exercises. Inflatable mats will withstand just about anything you can throw (or bounce) at them within the scope of reasonable use, while the thick PVC material makes them durable enough for use in most indoor and outdoor settings.

The 10cm mats are a more affordable option but have a limited use and may not be the best choice if you plan to refine your skills from beginner to intermediate and advanced over the next few years.

The thinner 10cm mats provide less bounce which can limit the activities you can safely perform on them and they are not as suitable for low inflation pressure training required for beginners.

All Powertrain mats are 20cm thick which means more rebound bounce on tumbling passes, better protection, and enhanced durability and strength, especially when using the mats at a lower pressure for beginners.

Four metre by two metre wide Air Track
Four metre by two metre wide Air Track

What size Air Track should I buy?

Air Tracks have a multipurpose surface that can be used for many different gym activities. It's often referred to as an "airtrack", with spots and blocks starting at around 1m in size.

The "Air Spot" and "Air Block" are small inflatable mats with a round or square shape. They are often used as a jumping-off point to help users start tumbling, giving them more height from the ground or Air track. The air spots and air blocks can be used in conjunction with air track as a springboard.

The Air-Spot and Air-Blocks also works well in conjunction with a conventional mat at your local gym - just make sure not too bump into any equipment while practicing acrobatic moves.

One metre by one metre Air Block
One metre by one metre Air Block

The most common mat sizing

The most common inflatable mats for home use are one metre wide and are available in lengths from three metres to eight metres. This size mat is great for most tumble training and cheerleading practice, with the longer mats being the better choice if you have the space.

Two metre wide air tracks are perfect for all sorts of training activities and routines. These two metre wide super large mats provide better space to train, and are the ideal choice if you have enough room.

One metre round Air Spot
One metre round Air Spot

Do I have enough room for tumble training?

To use an Air Track safely you should have enough space at the start and end to allow for run-up and landing off the end of the track. You should also allow room at the sides of the mat. See the below chart for the recommended minimum space required.

How much room will I need for my air track?
Air Track size Minimum recommeded space
1m x 1m x 20cm 3m x 3m
3m x 1m x 20cm 6m x 3m
4m x 1m x 20cm 7m x 3m
5m x 1m x 20cm 8m x 3m
6m x 1m x 20cm 9m x 3m
7m x 1m x 20cm 10m x 3m
8m x 1m x 20cm 11m x 3m
4m x 2m x 20cm 7m x 4m
6m x 2m x 20cm 9m x 4m

Can I use my air track outdoors?

Yes, air tracks can be used outdoors, but it's important to take certain precautions to ensure that they don't get damaged. Be sure to place your air track on a flat, even surface, and avoid setting it up on rough or abrasive areas such as concrete or gravel. Additionally, keep it away from sharp objects that could puncture the surface, and be sure to deflate and store it properly after use to prevent damage from exposure to the harsh Australian sun.

How do I inflate and maintain my air track?

We have written a blog post to better explain the different ways to inflate your air track, you can read our Air Track inflation guide - mat pumps and pressure here.

Air Barrels for tumble training
Air Barrels for tumble training

What is an Air Roller?

The Air Roller, sometimes known as an air barrel, is becoming a common piece of equipment in gyms and at home. They can be used as part of a complete training session for gymnasts, used as an aid for moves such as back handsprings or front tucks. This item has become popular among dancers too for warm ups. You can use an Air Roller during yoga sessions to help tone your body shape without weight bearing exercises like sit up rows (and it works!).

In conclusion, choosing the right air track or tumbling mat can be a game changer for anyone looking to improve their gymnastics or tumbling skills. It's important to consider factors such as size, thickness, material, and portability when making your decision, and to choose a product that meets your specific needs and preferences. With the right air track or tumbling mat, you can enjoy a safe and effective training experience, whether you're practicing at home or on the go.

See our full range of Powertrain air track mats to buy in our Air Track Mats category in our online store.