Finding the right clothes to exercise in might sound vain, but I assure you there is so much more to it than looks! As a former, long time Lululemon employee, I learned a few things to look for when purchasing workout gear. In this post, I hope to share these tips to better educate you in making the right choices. I will use Lululemon’s “5 Fs” to organize the key components in getting the perfect workout gear.
~ Fit ~
No matter how cute something is, or how great a deal you bought it for, you won’t want to wear it unless it fits well. Don’t get hung up on the size on the tag; go by the fit on your body. You want to feel “hugged”, but not like a sausage. I often see people buying a size smaller than they are because they hope to be that size soon. I find it much more helpful to buy the size you currently are, and when you workout you will be comfortable and able to move freely. A good test for pants is to bend over and touch your toes and look in the mirror behind you. If the pants are too tight, often the fabric pulls past its intended coverage and can appear see-through. Proper fit is a key deciding factor any time I add a new piece to my workout wardrobe.
~ Fabric ~
When I first began running, I was told that “Cotton is rotten” and should be avoided. Sure enough, if you run in a cotton t-shirt, you will quickly learn that it gets heavy, hot, and doesn’t dry very quickly when you sweat. Selecting the right fabric based on your selected workout is crucial. Dry-fit, or sweat wicking fabrics are best for quick sweat absorption. They dry fast and remove sweat from your skin, which helps avoid chafing and rashes.
~ Function ~
Targeting specific activities you will be doing in these clothes will help you to select the proper garments for that specific workout. For pants, I prefer a compression fabric when running and lifting weights. Once I begin sweating, it holds to my skin and doesn’t need to be adjusted. For yoga, I prefer more of a soft, cotton-like legging. Since I am not as sweaty in this activity, I am more concerned that there aren’t any zippers on the back that will bother me when I am lying down, and that the waistband stays where it should. For low impact sports, I love a built-in bra, although when I run, I require a more supportive sports bra.
~ Features ~
Having a drawstring inside your waistband may be your salvation if you fluctuate in weight because you can make the pants tighter or looser simply by tying a string. A hidden pocket in the back of your pants can be perfect to slip your car key into for long runs. Reflectivity may seem unimportant if you are a gym rat, but if you run outside in the dark, this feature could save your life. These seemingly unimportant features are what set apart your favorite workout gear from those that remain in the back of your drawer.
~ Fun ~
Let’s face it – it’s more likely you will wear your workout gear if it feels fun to
wear! I recommend starting with one outfit you love: sports bra, shirt, pants, shoes and socks, and possibly even a headband. If you are a “transitional size” and don’t want to spend a lot of money because you don’t want to commit to that size, then start with the right sports top and pants. I also recommend buying a mix and max “collection” or “capsule” so everything can be mixed to increase outfit options. If you are starting out, I would recommend a quality pair of black bottoms and neutral coordinates. As your collection grows, you can sprinkle it with more colorful and busy pieces.
Now comes the last topic: quality! If you are transitioning between sizes, a cheaper brand might be just what you need for exercise. If you are investing in long-term health pursuits, I recommend quality over quantity. One pair of Lululemon leggings has a 5-year lifespan! What I have noticed when I buy generic brands, such as Target, is that they bag out, sag, and lose their shape after a few weeks of washes and wear. Sometimes making an up front investment in something you LOVE will actually end up costing less in the long run because you don’t have to replace it as often.
Once you have your outfit ready, you will have the confidence you need to feel good about stepping out the door and mov’in it!
Author: Genevieve is the Athletic Director at NorthCreek Academy, Junior High Athletic Coordinator, and founder of Active8 Group Fitness, an exercise program and support group for women and their children. She was a cheerleader for 10 years and through her experiences believes total life transformation can happen when we work on our lives from the inside out. Check out her website at: www.activ8groupfitness.com