This morning, whilst out for a stroll to stretch my legs after a particularly heavy leg day, I was passed by a girl running. Now, this wouldn’t usually elicit a response, but on this occasion, I was startled by her outfit. She wasn’t wearing workout gear. She was wearing a plain long sleeved top and a short skirt. However, she wasn’t running for the bus and she wasn’t running late. She was simply running. She had headphones on and everything. It got me thinking.
Firstly, I was wondering why she was wearing the clothes she was wearing. Did she not have anything else? In which case, good on her! Nothing was going to stop her from running today!
But at the same time, I thought about why we actually wear workout gear. What benefits does it give us over normal clothes? Is it all simply a clever marketing ploy on the part of fitness clothing companies?
So I decided to do some research.
Fitness fabric is a cut above
Who hasn’t balked at the price of some fitness clothing? I know I have! But sometimes that price is justified. Fitness clothing is often made out of special fabric that helps wick away moisture. That means when you get all sweaty in your workout gear, that sweat doesn’t stick to you as much as when, say, you wear a normal cotton t shirt. Nobody wants to be sweaty, but it’s a byproduct of a decent workout. Unfortunately, if sweat does stick to your skin it can cause rashes and chafing. Which really isn’t what you’re trying to get out of your workout, right?
You should look for workout gear that has any of the following listed on its label: polypropylene, spandex and/or polyester blends. Wool can also be great in winter. Cotton is breathable, but it doesn’t remove sweat quickly so it’ll get heavier and heavier during your workout.
Workout clothes are tight
A quick glance around any gym floor is likely to tell you this one, but most activewear are designed to be tight fitting. This isn’t just to show off your #gainz but also for safety reasons. The last thing you want whilst sprinting on a treadmill is for your trousers to get caught in the belt (eeek!) so workout clothes are purposely designed to avoid getting trapped in machines. They also won’t flap around you whilst you run and move about.
Some activewear offers support
I don’t just mean moral support with this one – although I’m rather keen on slogan fitness vests that encourage my fellow gym goers. Sports bras fall squarely in the support category. They can come in light, medium and high impact. You can find out more about what kind of sports bra you need in this blog post I wrote on the topic!
Simply put, if you’re female, you’re going to need a sports bra. No matter your bra size, you need one. Your breast tissue is incredibly fragile and studies have shown they can move A LOT whilst exercising. Oh and they don’t just move up and down, they move side to side, diagonally, in figure of eights….they’re basically doing their very own little boogies whilst you’re working out. So strap them down and save yourself from injury!
If you’re a keen cyclist or visit the spin room quite often, you’re probably familiar with saddle soreness. Luckily for you, there’s padded pants out there to help keep your focus on your ride and not your rump.
Some workout gear is super specific
Without going into too much detail, once you find the fitness activity for you, you’ll probably find a plethora of specialist workout gear dedicated to that very sport. There’s weightlifting gloves and shoes, cleats for avid cyclists and spin enthusiasts, special running trainers, yoga socks and so on. When you do get to that stage, however, you’ve probably got a good idea of what’s going to help you reach your personal best. To help you along, why not take a look at my blog post on what workout gear you should get and when?
Fitness sometimes begins with your clothing
When I really got going in the gym, so too did my activewear addiction! Getting yourself some top workout gear can sometimes be the inspiration you need to get yourself to the gym. That said, I honestly ended up wasting so much money on workout gear that I wore once or twice before it became too big for me. Especially if your goal is weight loss, consider just getting the essentials first and not spending too much on a whole new fitness wardrobe. Treat yourself once you’ve hit your goal weight.
Conversely, even just wearing fitness gear can encourage you to workout. A recent study by Victoria University in Australia found that just putting on some leggings and a sports top can be enough to trigger healthier habits. So if you find yourself in a fitness slump, maybe just try putting on your favourite workout gear!
Lack of gear shouldn’t stop you
I know I’ve spent most of this article heralding the virtues of fitness clothing. However, returning to the girl on a run this morning. Not having all the right fitness equipment from the beginning shouldn’t stop you from starting your fitness journey. I started off without much of the stuff I have today. As I developed and began doing more varied workouts, I could justify getting more workout gear and specialised equipment like lifting gloves.
Getting yourself out the door and ready to move is the most important thing.
Yes, you’ll need trainers. You’ll probably need a decent top and maybe some tracksuit bottoms, leggings or shorts. But don’t let lack of equipment become an excuse for not getting started. The girl this morning didn’t.