FROM THE ARCHIVES: What to Look for in Workout Gear

It’s Cyber Monday, so you’re probably doing some of your online holiday shopping, right? If you have a fitness buff on your shopping list this year, here are some great tips (from the archives) on what to look for in buying high-quality, comfortable gym clothes that will last. You may not look cute when you leave the gym, but you want to make sure your clothing will hold up! Read on to find out a little more, from this post from early 2012:


Buying gym clothes can be almost as daunting as wearing them. There is so much out there already – and it seems that the technology and styles are continually evolving. So, what should you look for when investing in your gym clothes?

  • Comfort. Look for soft, non-restrictive fabrics. Spandex is a great choice, because it is designed to stretch and move with your body.
  • Wicking. Gym clothes have come a long way in keeping you comfortable once you start sweating. Look for polyester/Lycra blends and synthetic materials, which are designed to draw sweat away from the body. Many lines, including Under Armour, Nike, Adidas, and most other major sports even design tops and bottoms specifically to keep you warm in cold weather and cool in warm weather.
  • Layerable. This is especially important if you will be exercising outdoors – you want be sure clothing can be easily layered to keep warm, and removed to keep cool.
  • Technologically Advanced. Fabrics have become specialized for not only warm and cool weather, but also to be antimicrobial, provide UV protection, or to glow in the dark (or be luminescent).
  • Activity Appropriate. You wouldn’t take a Spinning class in big, baggy pants, and you won’t do Bikram in a sweatshirt. Think about what types of activities you will be participating in, and plan your purchases accordingly.
  • Long Lasting. Invest in a few dark bottoms (pants, shorts, capris … whatever your preference) and solid color tops. They’ll never go out of style.
  • Perfect Fit. You want to feel your best when you’re doing something good for you! If you don’t feel comfortable, you won’t be able to focus on your workout. Look good, feel good! The Today Show recently did a great story on fitting your gym clothes for your body – check it out here.

Most importantly, remember you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money for functional, comfortable, and attractive gym clothes. Personally, I’m a fan of Lucy – but I’ve never bought anything there that wasn’t on the clearance rack (they do have great sales!) I’ve also found a number of great pieces at TJ Maxx and Marshalls – they can be hit or miss, but I’ve found many of my favorite Nike, Adidas and Under Armor pieces at these stores … for a fraction of the sticker price. That said – make sure whatever you do invest in is quality. You’ll be better off spending $50 on a great pair of pants that look and feel great, versus a $15 pair that will fall apart in six months.  And handle with care! I machine wash my clothes, but I always air dry them (socks excluded) to maintain the integrity of the spandex and lengthen the life of gym clothes.

What Not to Wear: Gym Edition

As you may know, I spend a lot of time in the gym. Which means I’ve had my share of opportunities to see … let’s call them … questionable attire. Now, I understand that good gym clothes can be expensive (why do you think I only shop the clearance rack at Lucy?), but seriously – a pair of shorts and a t-shirt suffice. And you can find those just about anywhere, and at a relatively low cost.

My point is, your gym attire options are pretty broad. T-shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts, shorts, yoga pants, running tights … all great options. What is on my “what not to wear” list?

  • Jeans. Yes, I saw a guy lifting in jeans this evening. Seriously, they only stretch so much. That cannot be comfortable. And you look ridiculous.
  • Work boots. Same argument I’d make for why not to wear jeans. Especially the “you look ridiculous” part … and especially when you’re also wearing shorts. (On the flipside, probably a year ago, I was on the treadmill next to a man who was running  barefoot. Now, I get that barefoot training is all the rage. Piloxing is barefoot, so technically I train barefoot twice a week. But on a TREADMILL? Are you planning on sanitizing the entire machine, because that is repulsive. Run barefoot outside, run barefoot on your own treadmill, do NOT run barefoot in a gym. Get some of those five fingers things if you must).
  • 80s gym clothes. These tend to be bright colors, occasionally involving sweatbands and leotards. Luckily, they usually only surface two times a year: shortly after New Year’s (when the women who haven’t worked out since the 80s surface) and in the event that a gym holds an 80s event. Only one of these is appropriate. It is NOT the former. Unless your name is Richard Simmons.
  • Clothes that don’t fit. There is one woman at my gym who I’d love to buy new pants for, because they aren’t doing her any favors – they make her look significantly bigger than I think she actually is. If your pants make it up to your collarbone, they don’t fit. Tucking in your shirt only makes it worse. Same goes for the women wearing shorts that are smaller than some of my underwear.

Like I said, there are so many appropriate options out there for comfortable workout wear (In fact, I wrote this post about what to look for several months ago). You don’t have to spend a ton of money on clothes that are just going to get sweaty anyway, but have a little pride in how you look! The saying goes “look good, feel good” – and it’s absolutely true. If you like the way your body looks in your gym clothes, you’ll be even more motivated to do what it takes to make them look even better!