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Refuse All Limits with the Small Mat
This week our blog series featuring the unique purposes and benefits of our props continues with our attention drawn to the small mats. The design is simple (a rectangular piece of high grade foam covered in canvas), and the uses are versatile. The small mats are the most well-rounded of all the props we use in class. Keep reading to learn how they simultaneously challenge, comfort, and support you in different areas of class.
The small mats look a little less intimidating than the balls, however when folded and used between your thighs they challenge you in the same way. The 1 ½ ‘’ thick piece of foam becomes very firm and resistant after just a few squeezes in thigh work, curl, and back-dancing. Your legs will begin to shake and you’ll undoubtedly feel a good burn during and after the exercise ends. Try rolling the mat into a little burrito during kickstand or back-dancing to turn it up a notch and really make an impression on your inner thighs.
Our studio rooms are covered with a ¾” gymnastics pad and high grade, comfortable carpet to protect your joints, so you can work safely and effectively. One of the most recognizable exercises in a barre class is parallel thigh. This exercise requires you to stand on the balls of your feet for an extended period of time, which as you can imagine, may become very uncomfortable if performed on hardwood floors or cheap carpet. Students with plantar fasciitis may find this and other standing exercises particularly bothersome if not provided the proper support for their feet. The small mats offer the right amount of support for your feet and knees when needed so that you can focus better on the muscle and the movement.
In our last post, we mentioned how the risers provide support in curl to help students more effectively recruit their abdominals. The small mats are actually the original back support in The Bar Method. Now, with the introduction of the risers a few years ago, the combo is the key for different body types. Stacking 1-3 small mats behind your back in low curl or kickstand curl can help you effectively bend at your waist and plant your low back down to stabilize. In high-curl they provide support for your low back, as it’s lifted off of the floor in this exercise. It’s common for your back to compensate here and small mats will help you redistribute the work into your abdominals.