The new year is the perfect time to kick-start your goals by building a fitness wardrobe.
After the ball has dropped and the champagne toasts are over, the focus moves to your New Year’s resolutions. “You’re full of drive for your fitness goals in January, and getting new activewear is a great way to keep the motivation going,” says Denise Lee, founder and CEO of Alala. “Liking the way you look and feel in your gear can make your workouts even better.”
By having a full fitness wardrobe, you’re guaranteed to have an outfit that will carry you through any type of workout. “We need great product that will be as durable as we are,” says Nate Checketts, CEO and co-founder of Rhone. “Invest in quality products that will last and function so you can focus on training.” Stick to these guidelines to stock your closet just right.
The right pair of sneakers can make or break a gym session. Buying the best fit and type for your workout is crucial for avoiding injury. In general, everyone should have two types of sneakers: cross trainers and running shoes. “I’m a fan of cross trainers for studio exercises,” Lee says. “Running shoes tend to have less support, especially with lateral movements, so if you’re in the gym and doing classes, a pair of cross trainers would be more comfortable and better at preventing injuries.”
TOP IT OFF
Shirts are in heavy rotation for any gym-goer, so buy ones that will get you through your sweat sessions time after time. “Everyone needs short-sleeve tees in both synthetics and natural fibers, such as cotton and merino wool,” Checketts says. “Additionally, you need a few layering pieces, as well. Long-sleeve shirts with thermoregulation, quarter zips and a good running hoodie are my outdoor staples.”The C9 Champion Men’s Running Cold Weather ¼ Zip ($34.99) is soft and stretchy, so it’ll keep you warm on your jog or while running errands.
Men can get in on the athleisure vibe with a pair of joggers, which are trending this year. “For the man who doesn’t like the style or feels he can’t pull them off, just wear them around the house for a bit and you will forget outside perception quickly,” Checketts says. “Our Yama Terry Jogger Pants ($79) are unbelievably comfortable and cross-functional. You can dress them up for errands, go for a run or hit the gym.” For shorts, Checketts sticks to 9 inches for all general fitness activities, like cross training and basketball, and 7 inches for running and yoga. For women, leggings that move with you are key. “I’m a fan of cropped leggings for the gym,” Lee says. “Full-length pants look great, but I tend to get overheated in them, and shorts usually don’t give me as much coverage as I would like. I also look for a medium-rise pant that has compression in the waistband for comfort and efficiency since they don’t ride down during exercise. Our Captain Crop Tight ($105) has all these features and is one of our best-selling tights.”
Don’t forget the smaller pieces, especially hats and gloves in the colder months to keep you warm. “A great performance beanie running hat and e-touch-enabled gloves — which means you can change your music or fitness tracking app without having to take your gloves off — are essentials,” Checketts says. Old Navy’s Tech-Tip Running Gloves for Women ($14.94) allow you to scroll through your phone while keeping your digits toasty.
Underwear is often an afterthought when you’re suiting up for a sweat session. “But if you have terrible underwear, you will pay for it in more ways than one,” Checketts says. For high-impact workouts, get a few pairs that fit just right and feature sweat wicking. When it comes to socks, compression ones are great for hitting the gym, and look for fabrics that fight odor. Quality sports bras with enough support are a must for women. “When you’re trying them on, check that the girls stay in while you’re bouncing around and that you’re comfortable with how much or how little cleavage you’re showing,” Lee advises. “Nothing is worse than feeling like you’re going to fall out of your bra during a workout.” The sleek Carbon38 Electron Sports Bra ($79) keeps everything secure in style.
You probably wouldn’t wear the same outfit to yoga and cycling class, so make sure your pieces cover the range of workouts. “Personally, I like wearing a loose tank top over a supportive sports bra for high-intensity activities like boot camp or Spin,” Lee says. “But for yoga, I prefer something tight on top so I don’t have my shirt falling over my head during Downward Dog or other inversions.” When it comes to running, Checketts recommends a shorter inseam higher up on the leg for better mobility.
The old adage “you get what you pay for” applies to your gear, too. “Guys settle for the free T-shirt or shorts from their college days,” Checketts says. “When men invest in good quality workout products, you can see more confidence and it always increases comfort. Workout gear alone won’t make an individual fit, but starting with the right tool will help get them there.” Plus, if you don’t invest in high-quality products, you’ll most likely have to replace them sooner than expected. Buy smart by talking to other shoppers, reading reviews and buying from a company with a 100-day return policy.
Before you commit to a purchase, make sure each item is just right for you. “Use online fit guides and input your measurements and preferences,” Checkouts suggests. “If you can, try it on in-store or at home and perform some basic stretches to see how the fabric moves. The goal of apparel is to not distract from the activity — if you have to focus on a fit or a seam, then you can’t focus as much on the end activity. When activewear is done right, it will fade into the background.”
While your older clothes might look fine, they could actually be worn out. “I like to replace my basics every year,” Lee says. “Most items with wicking technology lose some efficacy after about 30 washes, and the spandex can also start to lose its bounce if its been in the dryer too many times.”
There’s no point in investing in a quality workout wardrobe if you don’t take care of it. “Like all good clothing, if you want it to last longer, it’s better to wash in cold water and hang dry,” Checketts says. This will prevent pilling and also preserve the wicking properties and the elasticity of the spandex. “I also like to lay my gear out flat to dry after my workouts before they get washed,” Lee says. “That prevents the sweat from getting trapped in the fibers and keeps them from smelling.”
Photo credit: Adobe Stock, LMproduction.