How I’m feeling about horse stall mats for home gyms.

Somehow, this is what I need to get off my chest. (Write what you want to write)

Tony Stubblebine
4 min readSep 7, 2023

On the surface, horse stall mats seem like a perfect solution to surface (heh) your home gym. That’s what I did at the end of 2021, when I converted our garage into a home office slash gym.

Horse stall mats are cheap/sturdy and your local farm store definitely has them in stock and will deliver. The immediate downside is that they are very heavy. Here’s what I had to say when I purchased them:

Individually, they are just outside the limit of what I can carry due to an intense combination of weight and floppy unwieldiness. But they are draggable.

My feelings haven’t changed for the better, i.e. I don’t now know of an effective way to move them. Dragging them is possible if your hands are dry. But even then it’s a workout and if your hands pick up even a touch of sweat then you are really in trouble.

How often do you have to drag them?” you ask. Ideally I’d have put them into place and if they got dirty, mopped them where they lay.

That’s the problem. Other things about the mats are good though. You can drop weights on them and the concrete floor below won’t crack. They have good traction. They stay in place. They don’t wear down.

But they don’t clean up well. They have a rough surface which does the job of making sure you don’t slip during a workout. But, it seemed to me, the ridges were a haven for dirt. My first attempt at mopping didn’t have any impact. This is what I mean by ridges (photo is from a product listing):

So, given that my mop job didn’t work and having forgotten how hard they were to put in place, I decided I’d drag them out of the gym and power wash them. This is a fantastic task for someone who likes working the battle rope. It’s a full body strength exercise. Functional strength for hitmen who dispose of a lot of bodies.

Here’s a before picture of some of the mats and right away you might be thinking what is that pale stain on the top left one? Surely, Tony is not showing us a picture of his accumulated sweat. I’ll be honest with you: I thought it was sweat at first too and that’s what motivated me to drag the mats out into the drive way for a power washing.

Here is that same stain after a power washing. Actually, it went through a power wash, a scrub w/ pine sol, and then another power washing.

I’m now nearly certain it’s not sweat and is instead a reaction to lube for my bike chain (I have a bike setup for stationary riding and that’s the source of both a lot of sweat and an occasional chain lubing). But given that you are reading a story about home gyms then I’m sure you are comfortable with sweat and you can tell me what you think it is.

In any case, no amount of washing and elbow grease and pinesol did much for the cleanliness of these mats. They are covered in strange stains: rust, dirt, grease.

This is the before picture and the after picture isn’t much better.

At most the exercise of dragging them into the driveway for a deep cleaning was the equivalent of a light dusting. My dog, bless her, is a shedder, and she’d snuck into my gym a few times to shed. The cleaning, thankfully, removed the majority of her fur.

So, now having owned these long enough to review them with some experience, I would say they are fine but not dreamy. If you buy them you might want to consider leaning into the gym rat version of shabby sheik. Visitors will definitely look at the patina of your horse stall mats and say, “damn, you must work out hard!”**

** but they will also want to put their own yoga mat down before doing floor exercises