We recently bought an airtrack also known as a tumbling mat for our daughter. You can see her here in the photo on the track we bought. But before we bought the mat I had to do a lot of research to make sure we bought the right length, depth and width mat as well as making sure we bought a quality mat that would last.
There are a few different brands that sell them in different lengths and widths. We don’t have a lot of space indoors, so I knew ours would end up outside in the elements most of the time which was a consideration when looking at materials. I was also concerned about pumping it up and deflating it and where I was going to store it when it is not being used.
Read on as I go through everything I learnt about air tracks and tumbling mats and then go read my top picks for a mat including the one we bought in my article The Best Inflatable Air Tracks For Acro Dance & Gymnastic Enthusiasts.
- What is an Air Track or Inflatable Tumbling Mat?
- Why are Air Tracks Popular Among Gymnasts and Acro Dancers?
- What are Air Tracks or Inflatable Tumbling Mats made From?
- Are Air Tracks or Inflatable Tumbling Mats durable?
- How are Air Tracks or Inflatable Mats Made?
- How do you pump up and deflate your Air Track?
- How Long Does it Take to Pump Up and Deflate your Air Track?
- How to Clean your Air Track or Inflatable Tumbling Mat
- What sizes do Air Tracks come in and which size should I buy?
- How and where to store your inflatable tumbling mat?
What is an Air Track or Inflatable Tumbling Mat?
An air track is a type of inflatable mat or landing pad that is designed to provide a safe surface that absorbs shock for gymnasts and dancers to practice their tricks, tumbling and other skills.
The air track is filled with air using an electric pump, which creates a soft and bouncy surface that is perfect for gymnastics and dance practice.
Why are Air Tracks Popular Among Gymnasts and Acro Dancers?
Air tracks are popular among gymnasts and acro dancers because they absorb shock and are a cushioned surface that can reduce the risk of injury during acrobatic and gymnastics training.
They are lightweight making them easy to move and transport.
They are also versatile and can be used for a wide range of acrobatic dance and gymnastic skills, such as tricks, tumbling, vaulting, and balance exercises.
What are Air Tracks or Inflatable Tumbling Mats made From?
An air track or inflatable tumbling mat is made from a sturdy and durable material called PVC or vinyl.
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or vinyl is a synthetic plastic material that is durable, waterproof, and flexible. It is able to withstand repeated use and abuse without becoming easily damaged or worn.
Additionally, PVC or vinyl can be easily cleaned and disinfected, making it a hygienic and safe surface for gymnastics and other physical activities.
Are Air Tracks or Inflatable Tumbling Mats durable?
The PVC or vinyl material used in air tracks is designed to be puncture-resistant, meaning it is less likely to be damaged by sharp objects or rough use.
The vinyl in an air track is typically stuck together using a high-strength adhesive that is designed to create a strong and durable bond between the different layers of the material. This adhesive is usually applied to both sides of the vinyl before the material is cut and shaped into the desired size and shape of the air track.
In addition to the adhesive, some air tracks may also have reinforced stitching along the edges to provide additional strength and durability. This is particularly common in larger air tracks or those that are designed for commercial use in gyms and dance studios.
How are Air Tracks or Inflatable Mats Made?
The process of creating an air track involves carefully aligning the edges of vinyl sheets that have been laser cut and applying pressure to the area where adhesive is located. This helps to ensure that the vinyl is securely stuck together and that there are no gaps or weak spots that could cause the air track to come apart during use.
What sizes do Air Tracks come in and which size should I buy?
Air Tracks come in a range of sizes, from small mats designed for home use to large mats suitable for professional gymnastics training facilities. The most common sizes of Air Tracks for home use are:
- 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 size of the Air Track that a parent should buy for their gymnast will depend on a variety of factors, including the child’s age, skill level, and the available space for training.
In general, smaller Air Tracks are better for younger or less experienced gymnasts, as they provide a more manageable surface for practicing basic skills and building confidence.
Larger Air Tracks, on the other hand, are better suited for older or more advanced gymnasts who require more space and shock absorption to practice complex skills and routines.
Parents should also consider the available space in their home when choosing the size of an Air Track.
It is important to ensure that there is enough room to safely set up and use the mat without any risk of injury or damage from surrounding objects.
Ultimately, the size of the Air Track that a parent chooses will depend on their child’s individual needs and circumstances, and they can consult with their coach or trainer for advice on the best size and type of mat for their child’s training.
Most air tracks also come with velcro on the edges of the mat as you can see in the photo above. This is so you can buy attachments to link two or more mats together, however, I am unsure how safe this is if your gymnast or dancer happened to step exactly on the gap at high speed or velocity.
How do you pump up and deflate your Air Track?
When buying your air track make sure yours comes with an electric pump. You can use a manual pump but this will drive you crazy as it will take you much longer to inflate your track.
They are pretty simple to pump up and you should follow the instructions given by the manufacturer.
However basically you will need to:
How to inflate an air track with a pump:
- Place the air track on a flat surface and ensure that there are no sharp objects or debris that could damage the material.
- Locate the valve on the air track. It is usually located at the end of the mat and may have a cover that needs to be removed.
- Attach the pump to the valve, you may need to twist it to ensure that it is securely in place.
- Turn on the electric pump or begin pumping manually, depending on the type of pump you are using. The air track will start to inflate.
- Monitor the inflation process and adjust the pressure as needed to achieve the desired firmness. The recommended air pressure for an air track is typically between 4 and 8 PSI.
- Once the air track is fully inflated, disconnect the pump from the valve and replace the valve cover.
- Check the air track for any leaks or damage before use. If there are any leaks or damage, do not use the air track and contact the manufacturer for repairs or replacement.
How to deflate an air track with a pump:
- Detach the tube on your pump and attach it to the opposite side of the pump. This is where is sucked in the air to push into the air track. You will now be using it to suck out the air from the mat.
- Locate the valve on the air track. It is usually located at the end of the mat and may have a cover that needs to be removed.
- Attach the pump to the valve, you may need to twist it to ensure that it is securely in place. The valve usually needs to be depressed to let the air in or out so make sure the pump attachment is allowing this to happen.
- Turn on the electric pump The air track will start to deflate.
- Monitor the deflation process as the motor on the pump will overheat and possibly burn out if you leave it attached to your mat without any air to left to suck out..
- Once the air track is fully deflated, disconnect the pump from the valve and replace the valve cover.
- Fold the mat for storage
How to deflate an air track without a pump:
- Open the valve at the end of the air track by unscrewing the cap or cover.
- Hold down or push the inside of the valve down so that air can escape.
- Start rolling the air track tightly from the opposite end of the valve, working towards the valve end.
- As you roll up the air track, the air inside will be forced out through the valve – as long as it is depressed or pressed in.
- Once the air track is fully rolled up, use the straps or bungee cords provided to secure it in place.
- If needed, use a soft cloth or towel to wipe down the air track and remove any dirt or debris.
- Store the air track in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
By following these steps, you can quickly and easily deflate your air track and store it safely until the next use. It is important to ensure that the air track is fully deflated before rolling it up, as this will help to protect the material and ensure that it maintains its shape and support over time.
How Long Does it Take to Pump Up and Deflate your Air Track?
Typically, it takes between 1 and 5 minutes to fully inflate an air track using an electric pump, depending on the size of the mat and the power of the pump. If using a manual pump, it WILL take longer and require more effort to inflate the mat fully.
It is important to monitor the inflation process closely and adjust the air pressure as needed to achieve the desired level of firmness.
Overinflating the air track can cause damage to the mat and increase the risk of injury, while underinflating the mat can make it less supportive and less safe to use.
Once the air track is fully inflated, it should be checked for any leaks or damage before use to ensure that it is safe and ready for use.
The time it takes to deflate an air track depends on several factors, including the size of the mat, the air pressure inside, and the method used to deflate it. Generally, it takes between 1 and 5 minutes to deflate an air track using an electric pump, depending on these factors.
It’s important to make sure the air track is fully deflated before rolling it up, as this helps to protect the material and ensure it maintains its shape and support over time. Once the air track is fully deflated, it should be rolled tightly and secured with straps or bungee cord before storing it in a cool, dry place.
How to Clean your Air Track or Inflatable Tumbling Mat
The material air tracks are made from is easy to clean and maintain, which is great for busy parents who want to ensure their child’s equipment stays in good condition.
Here is a quick guide for parents on how to clean an air track or inflatable tumbling mat:
- Use a soft-bristled brush or cloth to brush off any loose dirt or debris from the surface of the mat.
- Fill a bucket with warm water and add a small amount of mild detergent. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach, as these can damage the material.
- Dip the clean cloth or sponge into the soapy water and gently scrub the surface of the mat, paying particular attention to any areas that may be stained or dirty.
- Rinse the mat thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue.
- Use a dry cloth or towel to remove any excess water from the surface of the mat.
- Leave the mat to air dry completely before rolling it up to store or before using it again.
It is important to avoid using high-pressure hoses or power washers to clean an air track or inflatable tumbling mat, as these can damage the material and cause leaks or tears.
Additionally, you should avoid exposing the mat to direct sunlight or extreme temperatures, as this can also cause damage to the material over time.
How and where to store your inflatable tumbling mat?
Once deflated, the air track can be folded up and stored away. But now that we have ours, you need to know that the bigger track you get the heavier it will be – which makes picking it up to store it a little more difficult than I had expected!
Ours being the 20ft long, 8-inch high track means that it is heavy and large when rolled up! You can see that the 50L container I grabbed out of the garage to put it in was no where near big enough to store ours in the image above!
Folding and rolling the air track is quite easy, as the PVC material once deflated, still has the indentations of the original folds from when it was delivered.
However, picking it up once rolled is not easy as it is heavy and not something my daughter could do by herself, actually I struggle with it and another person lifting it with me is super helpful!
I have read and written previously in this article that you can just wrap a strap or bungee cord around the mat and then store it somewhere dry and cool.
Well I really hope that this article has helped you learn a bit more about air tracks and inflatable tumbling mats. Make sure you check out our top picks for the best mats and the one we bought in our article The Best Inflatable Air Tracks For Acro Dance & Gymnastic Enthusiasts.