This is the third part in a multi-part series of what kinds of “essential” fitness gadgets are out there, whether you could possibly live your life without them, and whether they’re worth it anyway.
What to wear? What not to wear? Appropriate attire has been a dilemma since the first neanderthal put on a loincloth and some beads before heading out to kill himself a kudu. Now that you’re an athlete extraordinaire, you can’t just look at clothes as appropriate or inappropriate, casual or business casual, formal or scandalous. You now have to shop based on function. How important is technical fabric, anyway? Is is better for your gear to be loose or form fitting? And who on earth spends $60 on a shirt destined for stinky armpit sweat?!
Expensive Athletic Wear
The old-fashioned way: Baggy t-shirt, sweatpants, tennis shoes, done.
But is it worth it? The purpose of athletic wear is to a) not be naked, b) not ruin your nice clothes, c) have a greater range of movement than you would in, say, your skinny jeans. However, clothes can and do achieve a lot more than simply avoiding a ticket for indecent exposure.
New exercisers often feel extremely self-conscious at gyms and group classes. If that’s you, then I definitely encourage you to buy a nice outfit or two that will boost your self-esteem. It’s hard enough getting motivated to workout. If a cute tank top and shorts that show off your ass help you overcome your aversion to the gym, then I say, more power to you! However, there’s no reason to let a concert t-shirt and PJ shorts keep you from getting healthy. Once you run a couple races, you’ll be neck-deep in event t-shirts anyway, many of which provide technical tees over plain cotton ones.
If you’re a veteran exerciser and you’re still working out in street clothes, you will likely soon discover that you need higher quality workout apparel. This usually happens after doing some epic fitness event wearing cotton. Cotton + sweat + time = CHAFING. You will not appreciate the value of technical fabrics until your first hot shower post-chafe. It burns like the devil fiddling on a hot tin roof, and it can take up to a week to heal.
I actually still have red marks on my arms from an unfortunate armpit chafing session three months ago, despite wearing a technical tee. It hadn’t occurred to me that the inner part of my arm rubbed against the hem of the t shirt sleeve every time I swung my arms. That would have been a good workout to do in either a sleeveless top, or a fitted, long-sleeved top. A long-sleeve top with no seams on the inner part of your arm plus fitted leggings go a long way towards preventing armpit and inner thigh horror stories.
If you’re female and enjoy cleavage sized C and up, it’s worth it to shell out some bucks for a good sports bra. My first tip: Never buy a sports bra that comes in small, medium or large! Always, always, always buy sports bras that have a band and cup size. Be prepared for the most effective sports bras to be the ugliest ones. If your favorite cardio activity is high-impact (think running, horseback riding, jumping rope), consider the Lululemon Ta-Ta Tamer. It’s kind of hard to get into, but once it’s on, your girls aren’t going anywhere.
Lulu products are generally worth the cost because they’re both cute and very well made. (I’ve only ever worn out one Lululemon item, and it’s probably because it was a hoodie I wore almost every day for three or four years.) If you’re worried about cost, just don’t sign up for their enewsletter… it’s too tempting.
What’s your favorite brand of athletic wear?
Do you buy expensive clothes, or work out exclusively in free schwag?