By Kim Duke, NETA & AAFA Certified Trainer
While many people want to look good while they exercise, your workout clothes should be less about fashion and more about comfort and fit.
What you wear can impact the success of your workout. Wearing the right clothing can be the difference between an enjoyable workout and an hour of misery. And investing in some stylish, yet comfortable, workout clothing is the perfect motivation to get you moving, whether you’re hitting the gym, heading for the hills or exercising in the comfort of your own home.
The big mistake I see new clients make is wearing a cotton T-shirt to workout. Instead, try wearing a shirt designed to draw sweat away from the body and move it to the outer surface. These “wicking” clothes (also called technical or performance fabrics) are usually made of polyester and/or Lycra blends. They may cost more than your average cotton T-shirt, but they’ll also last longer and keep you comfortable.
Proper workout attire doesn’t stop with your shirt. Cotton socks can also trap moisture and cause blisters, while a polyester-blend sock may help prevent them. Shorts, gloves, hats, running tights, sports bras, workout pants—even underwear—are also available in performance fabrics.
Avoid any rough fabrics that could chafe or irritate your skin during repetitive movement. Choose materials that let you move and don’t constrict you. Pay closer attention to fit than size, as some workout clothes tend to be smaller and more form-fitting than regular clothes. Look for items that have a small percentage of spandex listed on the label. This allows for a greater range of motion during exercise and can provide a very comfortable fit without being skin-tight.
If you’re going to be perspiring a lot, make sure your base layer will keep you dry and comfortable. Look for a polyester/ Lycra blend or another synthetic material. These materials keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer—even when wet—and dry quickly. If you prefer natural materials, wool and bamboo exercise shirts naturally wick away moisture, too.
While you might be tempted to hide beneath baggy layers, you will feel more confident and sure of yourself if you wear an outfit that looks good on you and plays up your assets. If you feel good about yourself, you’ll be inclined to exercise more often. Clothing trends change for workout wear too, but the basics never go out of style. Add one or two more trendy pieces to your wardrobe (such as a performance T-shirt in this season’s “hot” color) but keep your classic black yoga pants that are timeless.
Baggy pants aren’t feasible for cycling or spinning, and flowing tops won’t keep you covered when you do downward dog in yoga class. Consider the activities you do most, and make sure the clothes you buy are comfortable and appropriate for that activity. Most people can’t go wrong with fitted workout Capri pants and a fitted performance top, but always try on clothes before you buy—and try a few of your signature workout moves in the dressing room to be sure.
The more frequently you exercise, the more important it is to wear the right kind of clothing. Aside from keeping you comfortable, dry and cool, the right outfit also makes you feel like a million bucks—find pieces that flatter your figure so you can hit the gym in style!