When I first properly got into the gym at the beginning of August , there was a steady flow of lycra being delivered to the flat on what felt like a daily basis.My dad would roll his eyes as for the umpteenth time that week I’d unwrap a pair of compression leggings and marvel at the way that I could tuck in my pasta belly and bend over in the mirror and not see my knickers through them. I mean, you have to bend over and do the knicker test, right? I justified this never-ending activewear haul with my new gym going, telling my dad that I needed a different bra/top/bottom combo for at least everyday of the week. I’m a gym bunny now, don’t you know? I’d come home and demonstrate the whole of my PT session in the kitchen move by move. Yes, I am such a bore.
When it got to the point that my workout wear drawer would barely close unless I’d played an intense game of Tetris with my clothing, I knew it was time to stop. That point came over one year ago now and I’m pleased to report that all my purchases are still going strong with no fraying, lost shape or worn away gussets from squatting. I made good purchases – and didn’t my bank account know it – but I put in the research and have ended up with a kit that does exactly what I need it to do. I currently personal train twice a week, doing a mix of HIIT workouts and resistance training and Reformer Pilates either three or four times a week; so I need clothing that allows movement without cutting in, doesn’t rub anywhere and doesn’t show the fact that I sweat about 5 times more than the average person. Here’s what I look for…
Out of all the activewear that I purchase, I’m probably the most picky when it comes to leggings. Here’s my checklist. They must be high-waist because I need something that keeps my hanging pooch in when I’m planking. I prefer a 7/8 length so the hem doesn’t crumble up over my ankles and I find it to be the most leg-lengthening fit. If I’m buying them in a block colour I like them to be in a dry-fast fabric to avoid any sweaty bits incidents. Follow-up point: patterned leggings are great for disguising this.
When I first got into working out I loved Varley, mainly because they do some funky prints. Although these days I’ve recently been converted to Sweaty Betty (their Power 7/8 leggings are the best), Outdoor Voices (these are the most gym to brunch appropriate leggings I’ve found – all the cool kids in New York wear them) and Adidas. I’d always been a bit of a Nike girl, but these Adidas Performance + Karlie Kloss Wrap Knit Climacool Leggings are some of the best I’ve found. They’re seriously sweat-wicking, come up so high that sometimes I consider wearing them with just a crop top (LOLZZZ), are stretchy enough that it isn’t a workout in itself just putting them on, plus they look pretty funky.
Because I have boobs, I never think I need to put too much thought into my bra of choice when I’m working out. Then I catch a glimpse of them in the mirror wobbling around as I’m doing kettlebell swings and I have to rethink. I still vouch though that I’m not the best person to advise when it comes to over the shoulder boulder holder recommendations, especially when it comes to getting sweaty. So I’ll keep this one short and sweet…
Nike do some fab bras and this Classic Swoosh Medium Support Sports Bra, is one that I purchased about four years ago now when I originally got into running, that’s still the one I reach for first when it’s back out of the wash. It’s got support, but doesn’t make me feel like I’m wearing some kind of boob corset. This Varley Brooks Crop gives me such ridiculous cleavage that I often consider wearing it as an everyday bra, however it’s not fab on the support front so I save it for pilates only. A brand to check out for their sports bra collection of a whole is Sweaty Betty. I have a few from them and have always been impressed by their designs and the fact that they stall the swinging.
This is the one genre of activewear where I don’t think that it’s too essential to invest. With leggings it’s worth getting the right fit. With bras you want to make sure they’re giving the right support and the same goes for trainers. But tops? Whatever you feel most comfortable in, is what I’d suggest. When I first started working out I felt that baggier was best, however I’ve realised that the baggier the top the more fabric there is to make you sweat and the more likely it is to get in your way during horrible exercises like press-up and mountain climbers. So these days I tend to go for slimmer fitting vests and long-sleeve tops just so I’m not having to faff around with them.
My favourites come from Sweaty Betty again, they just do lots of well-fitting tops in monochrome colours and I’m all about that. Nike are great too (definitely check out their Dri-fit range) and I have to give a shout-out to Lululemon, which are on the pricier side of things, but they use some of the best sweat-hiding fabrics I’ve found. And trust me, I test them out gooooood.
With trainers it really depends what kind of training you’re doing. For pilates I just shuffle to class in my flip-flops because they’re all held shoe-free (having to keep up on pedicure maintenance SUCKS), but for when I head to the gym I need something that’s sturdy enough for all the jumps and lifts that my trainer makes me do, but they don’t necessarily need to be specialised. If you’re taking up running however, please go and get fitted properly because there is nothing worse than shin-splints (been there, done that, used up a pot of arnica cream a week).
Previously I’ve been into Nikes, however I’ve just discovered A.P.L and I’m kind of in love. I treated myself to a pair of the TechLoom Phantom 3D Mesh Sneakers and they were like putting on slippers. LUSH. There’s an inner sock component to them which hugs the foot and makes me feel secure whenever my trainer makes me hop onto the treadmill for a quick warm-up (GROAN) and although I must admit that I was completely sucked in by the look of them, they do actually fit and perform well. Form, fit, function and they look flippin’ beautiful too.