By Katy Duncan, Contributing Blogger
Picking the right outfit for the right exercise can be a challenge. Especially if you’re not familiar with the exercise you’re diving into! Imagine that new friend you’re still trying to impress and get to know, invites you to a spin class and you have no idea what to wear. Is this a shorts friendly activity or should I have my legs covered? Will I be okay in just a tank top with a built-in bra or do I need something with more support?
I’ve tried and tested different tops and bottoms, in different cuts and styles, to help you make the right choice for your body the next time you decide to get active. Not all athletic wear is created equal, and a cute tennis skirt or strappy sports bra may not be ideal for something like cycling or pilates. Let’s talk about what athletic wear is designed for the exercise at hand.
Before we dive into outfit planning for your next bout of movement, let’s get real here first and talk about why it’s so important to pick the right clothes for the activity you’re doing. We can all agree there’s nothing more irritating than taking off for a run only to stop every quarter mile to tug your pants back up onto your hips. You know what I’m talking about here; the shake of the legs, the jump up and down to get those pants back where they’re supposed to be. Another common wardrobe malfunction found in athletic wear that happens while running is that the sports bra you chose doesn’t quite support your chest the way you had hoped, resulting in an uncomfortable running experience.
I mixed and matched different styles of athletic wear and put them to the test and I found some key features to keep in mind when it’s time to get dressed for some exercise. I picked out three activities to try out that all require different types of movement to find out the perfect clothes for each style of exercise. Keep reading to learn how to pick the right outfit for your next active experience.
Namaste and welcome to “Let’s Get Bendy 101.” If you’ve ever participated in a yoga session, either at home or in a studio, you’ll be familiar with some poses like happy baby, or downward dog; Can’t forget the cobra pose! All of these poses and stretches not only stretch you, but they stretch the clothes you’re wearing. It’s not a huge confidence booster to fold down into downward dog only to have your pants fall short, and your underwear fall into sight.
For especially bendy activities (think yoga, pilates or rock climbing) you’re going to be twisting and contorting into all kinds of positions. You want your clothes to move with you! Not against you. Picking a pair of pants that is both on the tighter side as well as high waisted will allow you the coverage and support you need to flow through that yoga sesh in confidence. Something else to look for in a pair of pants is a tapered top. If the sides of the waist are stitched at an angle, those pants are going to hug your hips and stay exactly where you want them while you bend and stretch. You won’t be hearing any, “I see London, I see France” if you follow that advice!
For tops, the same rule applies when it comes to the clothes moving with you. A low cut sports bra may be ideal for some activities and less ideal for others. When doing movements where you may be backwards, upside down and all around, having a high rise top will help keep everything where you want it to be. No sneak peaks today!
A double layered sports bra or one with thicker straps will be a great choice and keep you secure and supported while you bend and stretch.
When it comes to running and needing the right outfit to match, we’re talking support! We’re talking structure! We’re talking tight fits! You’re going to be bouncing up and down, off the ground and need an outfit that’s not going to stay on the ground, letting you bounce right out of it.
The pants that are ideal for running are going to be longer in length, either complete long pant designs or capri lengths. Shorts for running can be done but they also pose a problem during longer runs because as your legs move back and forth, your thighs will most likely rub together over and over again. This kind of friction over an extended period of time can lead to skin irritation, redness and chafing. If you stick to something that at least goes to your knees, you’ll protect your inner thighs during longer runs.
That same rule could be applied to long walks or hikes as well! Any movement that requires your legs to move in a back and forth motion repeatedly will come right along with inner thigh chafing. Choose your pants carefully when participating in these kinds of activities!
Now let’s talk about tops! When running, due to the up and down movement, it’s ideal to have something with more support. Tops and sports bras that offer multiple layers, higher cuts and thicker straps can help keep everything in place, safe and secure, while you’re training for that 5K. It’s also important to look for moisture wicking materials, like polyester in tops. The more you move, the more you sweat!
And the more you know, the better you can dress!
There are a couple of things to consider when you decide to get on that bike and get cruisin’. Whether your bike is outdoors or stationary in your home or a studio, the movement will remain the same. Sitting on a bike, we’re typically leaning forward slightly to reach the handle bars and we’re sitting the majority of the time on the seat. If you’re doing inclines or higher resistance training on a bike you may be standing up to pedal occasionally.
This kind of movement means you need some strong support up top, and some high rise action on the bottom.
Similar to running, looking for tops and sports bras that offer layers, high cuts and thick straps will be ideal for this type of exercise. The difference here is what you wear on the bottom. Because you have more space, aka a bike, between your legs you can absolutely get away with wearing shorts if you want! Just be mindful of the gears, or wear capris to be safe.
At the end of the day, movement is movement in whatever form you choose. The most important thing is how your body feels after exercising and if you enjoy the fitness path you chose. Being healthy and keeping your body fit is just as important as what you choose to put on it. After all, having a healthy, happy body is the best outfit you can put on!