We've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen lately getting ready for holiday entertaining and just enjoying the chance to putter around while the weather outside is frightful. The only downside? Sore back, aching shoulders, and tired feet! The company GelPro makes a series of floor mats that promises to relieve the fatigue from being on our feet all day, and over the last two months, we've put one of their new designer mats to the test.
Product Details: GelPro Gel Mats are filled with an anti-fatigue gel cushion and covered with a highly durable leather-like fabric composite. The fabric is hypo-allergenic and is designed to resist bacteria and mold growth. The mats are non-slip and textured to provide traction while walking and standing on them.
GelPro has 7 styles (textures), 33 different colors, and 10 different sizes, so you're bound to find one that fits in your kitchen space and matches your decor. In fact, they just introduced 8 new designer sizes to accommodate the smallest and largest kitchens. You can order fabric samples ahead of purchasing to be sure you get a color and style that suits your kitchen. Prices range from $99.95 for a small bathmat-sized mat to around $1200 for a full-sized mat that would fill a large space.
Look and Feel: Ok, enough with the technical details! Visually, I felt that this mat fit in very well with our kitchen design. I have a long, narrow galley-like kitchen and their 28"x72" mat fit perfectly in the space. I was a little nervous about the color match since I'd ordered online, but the cranberry ended up being a nice rich tone to offset the gray tiles and blonde cabinets. The texture was also nicely subtle - I could feel it under my feet, but it wasn't visually distracting or at odds with our kitchen decor.
I used the mat both barefoot and wearing shoes. Barefoot, the mat felt great. Really great. My feet sank in just a bit and then felt nicely cradled in the gel cushioning. I wondered if the mat would feel weird or too jelly-like while wearing shoes (like standing on a water bed), but it was just fine. I didn't notice the squishy cushioning as much through the shoes, obviously, but the mat still felt firm and supportive under my feet.
Performance Pros and Cons: Over the past few years, I've definitely noticed that my stamina for standing on my feet for long hours has started to wane. Wearing good shoes has helped, but I still found that I needed to sit down and take breaks more often.
Using the GelPro mat, I noticed a fairly remarkable change in my ability to keep on my feet. Just yesterday as I was thinking about this review, I realized that it had been a long time since my back hurt so badly after a long cooking session that I needed to sit down! I also find that I feel the best when I'm working on the mat while wearing shoes. I think the combined support of shoes and mat is perfect.
I'm also really glad that I got the longer mat. I can work at the stove, prep some vegetables on the nearby counter, and turn around to wash a few dishes all while staying on the mat.
I've also been using this mat now every day for the past two months and it hasn't shown much sign of wear or use so far, except for a little curl in the corner where I walk most often (you can see it in the bottom left corner in the photos). I've dropped dishes, heavy pans, and ingredients on the mat without causing any damage. It's easy to wipe clean - which is good because one of my only complaints is that the mat tends to show all my crumbs and floor grit all too easily, forcing me to sweep and mop more often!
We also have two cats in our house, both of whom have been completely uninterested in clawing or kneading the mat. If you have pets that scratch wood floors with their toenails, this might be an issue for the GelPro mat, but then again the fabric seems like it would be pretty durable to everything except direct, deliberate scratching.
Overall: I really recommend these GelPro mats with two thumbs up and a high five. They're expensive, but it's a good investment. If you've been having trouble standing at the stove for any length of time, I think that one of these can really help.
Buy It: Order online from GelPro.com, or check here for a retail store near you.
Do you have a GelPro mat? What do you think about it?
Related: Color Under Your Feet: A Gallery of Painted Kitchen Floors
(Images: Emma Christensen)