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Ultimate Guide to Air Tracks & Inflatable Tumbling Mats

by sorin ciovica on May 27, 2024

We recently bought an air track, also known as a tumbling mat, for our daughter. You can see her here in the photo on the track we purchased. But before we made the purchase, I did a lot of research to ensure we bought the right length, depth, and width mat, as well as a quality mat that would last.

Gymnastics Air Tracks Mat

There are several brands offering different lengths and widths of air tracks. Since we don't have a lot of space indoors, I knew our mat would spend most of its time outside, exposed to the elements. This influenced my choice of materials. I was also concerned about the ease of inflating and deflating it and where to store it when not in use.

Read on as I share everything I learned about air tracks and tumbling mats, and then check out my top picks in the article "23 ANSWERS TO YOUR AIRTRACK MAT QUESTIONS."

 

What is an Air Track or Inflatable Tumbling Mat?

An air track is an inflatable mat or landing pad designed to provide a safe, shock-absorbing surface for gymnasts and dancers to practice their tricks, tumbling, and other skills. Filled with air using an electric pump, the air track creates a soft and bouncy surface ideal for gymnastics and dance practice.

 

Why are Air Tracks Popular Among Gymnasts and Acro Dancers?

Air tracks are popular because they:

  • Absorb shock, reducing the risk of injury during training.
  • Provide a cushioned surface that is gentle on joints.
  • Are lightweight, making them easy to move and transport.
  • Are versatile and suitable for a wide range of skills, including tricks, tumbling, vaulting, and balance exercises.

What are Air Tracks Made From?

Air tracks are typically made from durable PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or vinyl. This synthetic plastic material is:

  • Durable and puncture-resistant.
  • Waterproof and flexible.
  • Easy to clean and disinfect, ensuring a hygienic surface for physical activities.

Are Air Tracks Durable?

Yes, air tracks are designed to be durable. The PVC or vinyl material is puncture-resistant and can withstand repeated use. High-strength adhesive is used to bond the layers of material together, and some air tracks also feature reinforced stitching along the edges for additional strength, especially in larger mats used in gyms and dance studios.

 

How are Air Tracks Made?

The manufacturing process involves:

  1. Laser cutting vinyl sheets to the desired size and shape.
  2. Applying high-strength adhesive to both sides of the vinyl.
  3. Aligning the edges of the sheets and applying pressure to ensure a secure bond.
  4. Reinforcing the edges with stitching for added durability in some models.

How to Pump Up and Deflate Your Air Track

Inflating Your Air Track

  1. Place the air track on a flat surface, ensuring there are no sharp objects or debris.
  2. Locate the valve, usually at the end of the mat, and remove the cover if needed.
  3. Attach the pump to the valve securely.
  4. Turn on the pump. The mat will start to inflate.
  5. Monitor the inflation process, adjusting the pressure as needed. Recommended air pressure is typically between 4 and 8 PSI.
  6. Disconnect the pump and replace the valve cover once fully inflated.
  7. Check for leaks or damage before use.

Deflating Your Air Track

  1. Switch the pump to the deflate setting by attaching the tube to the opposite side of the pump.
  2. Locate and open the valve.
  3. Attach the pump to the valve and turn it on. The mat will start to deflate.
  4. Monitor the deflation process to prevent the pump from overheating.
  5. Disconnect the pump and replace the valve cover once deflated.
  6. Fold the mat for storage.

Alternatively, you can deflate the mat without a pump by opening the valve and rolling the mat tightly from the opposite end, pushing the air out.

how to inflate an air track mat

How Long Does It Take to Pump Up and Deflate Your Air Track?

Using an electric pump, it typically takes 1 to 5 minutes to fully inflate an air track, depending on the mat's size and the pump's power. Manual pumps will take longer and require more effort. Deflation also takes 1 to 5 minutes with an electric pump. Ensure the mat is fully deflated before rolling it up for storage.

 

How to Clean Your Air Track

  1. Brush off loose dirt with a soft-bristled brush or cloth.
  2. Clean with mild detergent: Fill a bucket with warm water and a small amount of mild detergent. Use a cloth or sponge to scrub the mat.
  3. Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove soap residue.
  4. Dry with a towel and leave the mat to air dry completely before storage.

Avoid using high-pressure hoses or power washers, as they can damage the material.

 

What Sizes Do Air Tracks Come In?

Air tracks come in various sizes, with common dimensions for home use including:

  • 3 meters (10 feet) long x 1 meter (3.3 feet) wide x 10 centimeters (4 inches) high
  • 4 meters (13 feet) long x 1 meter (3.3 feet) wide x 10 centimeters (4 inches) high
  • 5 meters (16.4 feet) long x 2 meters (6.6 feet) wide x 20 centimeters (8 inches) high
  • 6 meters (20 feet) long x 2 meters (6.6 feet) wide x 20 centimeters (8 inches) high

The right size depends on the gymnast's age, skill level, and available training space. Smaller mats are better for younger or less experienced gymnasts, while larger mats are suited for advanced gymnasts.

 

How and Where to Store Your Inflatable Tumbling Mat

Once deflated, the air track can be folded and stored. However, larger tracks can be heavy and difficult to move. Rolling and folding the mat is easy, but lifting it may require assistance. Use straps or bungee cords to secure the rolled mat and store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources.

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