Review: The Big Fig; Is it the IDEAL Mattress for Athletes?

No matter who you are, shopping for a mattress is typically thought of as a dreadful experience. Pushy salespeople, gimmicky products, deceptive warranties and unclear trial policies all come to mind. Of course, a seemingly endless list of brands and models can make things that much more tedious. Ultimately, I’m left with the realization that even if I were able to try each and every single one of them, I still don’t know how the mattress is going to feel, perform and hold up in the weeks, months and years to come and that is perhaps the most stressful part of it all. Since a mattress is a significant purchase and because most of us will spend one third of our lives sleeping, we all want to make the best possible choice. In short, we all want a mattress that is comfortable, supportive, well-made/durable and reasonably priced. Is that too much to ask? Read on and I will give you my personal experience with mattresses over the years and my most recent conclusion.

Over the years I’ve owned several mattresses. Growing up, I had the typical innerspring mattresses that are most familiar to all of us. To be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot about them besides the fact that they would eventually cave in the middle and have to be replaced. By the time I was 23 years old I had been sleeping on the same mattress for the prior 10 years and knew it was time for a new mattress. At this time, I was actively bodybuilding, had competed in my first contest and was typically anywhere from 260 to 290 pounds. I was routinely waking up with a stiff back and hips in addition to my arms and shoulders constantly falling asleep during the night. This was 2005 and memory foam mattresses were fairly new to the market. The idea that a mattress could conform to a person’s body and be supportive at the same time appealed to me; that was the premise behind these mattresses. I plunked down almost $2,000 and bought one. Aside from waking up sweating during the night, the stiffness of the mattress in colder temperatures and the slow responsiveness of the mattress when attempting to change positions, the mattress was better than what I had been sleeping on so I kept it.

After about 5 years the mattress pretty much turned to mush, its ability to support my body was essentially gone and I found myself in the market for a mattress again. I swore I would not buy another memory foam mattress. After touring the local department stores and mattress shops I decided to buy a high-end traditional innerspring mattress with a cushion top. The brand name was well known and it came highly recommended by the salesman with what I was led to believe would be a risk free return policy. I HATED this mattress. Although it was supportive, I was tossing and turning all night long due to hip pain and my arms, legs and hands falling asleep. After a week of torture, I called the store and asked to return it. That required a 15% fee. 15% on a $1900 mattress is almost $300! Ouch. At the time, the salesperson offered an even trade if I went with a newer memory foam mattress. He claimed they didn’t sleep hot anymore and were more supportive than in the past. Although I had been dead set against ever owning another, I reasoned that I didn’t have to worry about my extremities falling asleep and even though I didn’t believe it would sleep any cooler or hold up any longer than 5 years I would at least be able to tolerate it. At this point, I just didn’t think I would be able to sleep on a traditional innerspring mattress so I went with it.

In 2011 I purchased a home, was sharing the memory foam mattress with my wife and although I wasn’t in love with the mattress, I was doing okay. Living in a 3 bedroom home with my wife and daughter, I soon found myself in the market to purchase a mattress for the spare bedroom. This time I came across a mattress from a well-known manufacturer that combined memory foam and coil springs to create a “hybrid” construction. I found the concept of combining foam’s ability to conform and relieve pressure with the supportive nature of coils most appealing. I bought the mattress and once I began sleeping on it 4 years ago during a snoring spell, I never went back to the memory foam mattress. Although my wife had expressed to me several times that she would like me back in the same room as her, I simply found the hybrid mattress so much better than the memory foam that I couldn’t go back to it!

Now, after recently having our second child, I was faced with the reality that I would have to move out of the spare room (soon to be my daughter’s room) and back into the master bedroom. I refused to go back to sleeping on the memory foam mattress and I found myself in the market for a mattress yet again. This time around, I knew right away that the hybrid style mattress was the only way to go. Naturally, I looked at the hybrid mattresses on the market to see what, if anything else, was out there. I came across the Big Fig hybrid construction mattress. Big Fig was making a heavy duty hybrid mattress that they were marketing to overweight individuals. This interested me because, technically, I am significantly overweight. It seems that Big Fig knew what had taken me years to figure out; HYBRID CONSTRUCTION IS THE ONLY WAY TO GET OPTIMAL LEVELS OF BOTH COMFORT AND SUPPORT! This holds true for all body types BUT unless you’re heavy, you likely have not realized this because you are not as susceptible to the “side effects” of a less than optimal mattress!

Now, before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight; I don’t bullshit and I don’t put my name or my credibility on the line anytime, for anyone. Those who have been following me for any length of time know that I do not pimp products; hounding my followers and friends with advertisements is simply not my style. On the other hand, if and when I come across something which I feel is useful and or high quality; be it a piece of information, a method of doing something or a product, I like to let others know about. This is especially true when I can possibly save someone else money, time and or unnecessary frustration.

All that said, after spending a great deal of time on the Big Fig website reading about their mattress and comparing it to another hybrid I was very close to buying, I decided that I would buy the Big Fig. Despite having good luck with the other hybrid mattress in the past, there are a few things that made me willing to take the chance on the Big Fig. First, the construction of the Big Fig. Although Big Fig discloses the number of coils in their mattress right on their site, I had to dig a little deeper with the other mattress I was considering to have a representative tell me that it had 1080 coils vs 1600 in the Big Fig; that’s almost 50% more coils. Some will say that coil count isn’t everything but it’s certainly something. And the Big Fig was the only mattress I came across made for heavier individuals. In fact, it’s rated for 1,000 lbs or (2) 500 lb sleepers! I don’t know about you but I always like buying above what I actually need. I never want to buy something and fulfill its capacity. In short, I didn’t come across any other mattresses made with a heavy duty construction specifically rated for heavy individuals. Of course, I had to be confident that the Big Fig would also be comfortable. Knowing that the coils were topped with several layers of pressure relieving material in addition to the top layer being infused with gel to keep temperature down, I felt reasonably confident that mattress would be comfortable. The second point that pushed me in the direction of the Big Fig was the warranty; 20 years. Granted, I haven’t seen all there is to see in the world of mattresses but in my time shopping I did not see anything with more than a 10 year warranty. That says a lot in my opinion and helped reassure me that the mattress was well-built and wouldn’t wear out in a few years. The thing that sealed the deal for me was the risk-free trial period. Despite not being able to actually try the Big Fig because it is not sold in stores, I was able to find confidence in the fact that there is NO fee to return the mattress if I didn’t like it. And because shipping is free, I was not taking any risk whatsoever. I made it a point to call Big Fig and clarify this to be sure there was nothing I was missing. Everything was exactly as it said on the website. That was a tremendous piece of mind. With the other mattress I was considering, despite being able to “try” it in a store, I knew this meant very little because laying on a mattress for 10 minutes is very different from sleeping on it for an entire 8-9 hours. And, although I could get free shipping and despite them offering a trial period with the other mattress, if I decided I didn’t like it, a 15% return fee would have been the consequence. That’s a considerable risk; I don’t like throwing away money! I decided on the Big Fig.

At this point, I was ready to buy the mattress. I called up and the representative was very friendly. I let her know that I was a professional bodybuilder and had gone through several mattresses in the past and had high hopes for the Big Fig. She asked me how long I had been bodybuilding for and proceeded to let me know that a big show takes place every year in Ohio (Big Fig is located in Ohio and manufactures all their mattresses at their facility in Cleveland) called the Arnold Classic. I laughed and let her know that I had competed in the show several times. I went on to tell her that they should consider marketing their mattresses to athletes and bodybuilders, many of whom are technically overweight and need extra support in a mattress. She asked if I would be willing to speak with one of her coworkers about the possibility of me letting my audience know about their product. I let her coworker know that I’m always willing to let others know about a product I believe in. Of course, I was firm in letting her know that I planned to take several weeks to thoroughly test the mattress before coming to any conclusion. I also let her know that if the mattress was not something I could confidently recommend to my family, friends and followers, I would simply return it to them. They let me know that they wouldn’t have it any other way.

It has now been 4 weeks since I began sleeping in the Big Fig and all I can say is “Holy S#*%!”. This mattress is unlike anything else I have ever sleep on. The level of support this mattress provides is beyond anything I’ve ever felt. At the same time, I’ve never been so comfortable; my back is never stiff and I don’t have any issue with extremities falling asleep; ever! They did an incredible job combining a supportive structure with pressure relieving materials. To say that I’m thrilled with the mattress is an understatement. Further, I am confident that the mattress will hold up better in the long term than any of the other mattresses I’ve ever owned. The thing is built like a tank! This becomes obvious when sitting at the edge of the bed; where other mattresses would crunch down, the Big Fig barely gives. Keep in mind, I’m nearly 280 pounds at the moment. And although I wish I could describe it more articulately, all I can say that when moving about on the mattress, it just has an incredibly substantial feel. I’m sure part of it has to do with the foundation being heavier and more solid than any of the ones I’ve ever come across. Even the mattress itself is very dense and heavy. I don’t even know how I’m going to rotate this mattress without having a second hand. This mattress is no joke.

At the end of the day, I wanted to share this experience with you guys. Most of us give a great deal of thought to our training and nutrition but many of us are still sleeping on mattresses that are not right for us. Each of us needs to be comfortable at night so that we can sleep deeply and soundly as that is what’s needed for optimal recovery. But we also need adequate support to help us avoid placing even more stress on our bodies; we beat up on our bodies enough in the gym as it is. In my opinion, a hybrid mattress is the ONLY way to achieve both support and comfort and based on my experience, nobody is making a hybrid mattress like Big Fig. I’m happy to be able to able to recommend their product to you guys with the utmost confidence.

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