Health & Fitness

Workout Wear Deconstructed

Written by Tara Hall

Sometimes the hardest thing about getting out of bed is knowing I’m about to be faced with an unexpectedly heavy question: What the hell am I going to wear today? Add to that the idea of plotting two outfits — one for “normal life” and one for “workout time” — and it can be enough to justify a couple extra hits of the snooze button.

In reality though, outfitting your body for exercise isn’t complicated if you keep in mind the type of activity you’re embarking on. From there, it’s just a matter of finding the right material and style for your body type and comfort level. Once that’s established, get yourself to the sporting goods store and buy a week’s worth of workout gear so you can squash the “nothing to wear” excuse.

Here’s the game plan:

Figure out what you’re doing.

Knowing how you plan to get your sweat on is crucial. Clothes optimal for basketball are not the same duds you’ll be comfortable in while you’re attempting tree pose in yoga class. Some activities require more range of motion than others (think tennis versus treadmill), so sleeveless shirts and tank tops make more sense. Comfortable shorts are perfect for nearly anything — just make sure they give you plenty of room and don’t bug you in any way. If you’re running, walking or heading to the gym, keep an eye out for shorts with a built-in interior pocket that’s perfect for your car key. Sometimes it’s all in the details.

Be aware of the elements.

Next time you’re at the drugstore, go ahead and spring for sweatproof sunscreen, and get in the habit of applying it before every outdoor workout. Whether it’s sunny or not, there’s nothing like getting an unintentional racerback tan from your jaunt with your best bud on the walking trail. Another worthwhile workout accessory: a headband, hat or visor. Pick your poison. Because sometimes the difference between maintaining your focus on a run and losing it altogether is that one annoying tendril of hair that will. not. stay. back. Or sweat dripping down your face. Eww.

We’re not working it on a runway here, so dress comfortably, damn it.

Ignore the ads that show tight bodies in micro-tiny work gear. That’s not for us. We’re going to buy the clothes that help us get the job done and that means buying a large if we need a large. Seriously. Because for one thing, that L is on the inside of the garment. Secondly, buying a smaller size just makes us look larger. So choose the size that you can move around in without chaffing or incurring a self-inflicted wedgie. Keywords to look for: “wicking,” “breathable” and “lightweight.” If you’re into Bikram (hot) yoga, fitted clothes do make sense, but not restrictive clothes. You’ll know the difference when you try them on: One allows your limbs to move freely, while the other makes you look “challenged.” Go with the first. You’ll be so much happier you did.

Don’t be afraid of the professionals.

This is true for so many things, but particularly when you’re buying new shoes for your workout regime. It can be difficult to determine if you’re an over-pronator, a supinator or maybe just have high arches. And believe it or not, that stuff matters. Sure, you can choose to ignore it and buy the cutest pair of athletic shoes — or perhaps the cheapest if you’re a bargain shopper — but a few years later, when that nasty, painful bunion has developed, you’ll be kicking yourself big time.

Take care of the workout wear.

For one thing, please don’t double dip when it comes to sweaty clothes. Always wash your entire outfit after each workout to not only remove sweat and dirt, but also pollen and spores that you can’t see. Pay attention to the washing instructions. Every piece doesn’t need to individually washed (usually), but do abide by the water temperature instructions. And don’t use bleach. And hang dry. With just a little more care, these pieces can last for months, or until you’ve lost so much weight you need a smaller size.

Aaand … go!

So toss those ratty, moth-eaten sweatpants that are three sizes too big for you (and only serve to make your butt look bigger) and hit up your local fitness apparel outlet. It’s time to claim your place at the track (or on the treadmill or in the yoga class…) Now if only the sports store also sold an alarm clock that could dress us and physically get us out the door …

About the author

Tara Hall

For the longest time, Texas transplant Tara Hall wanted to be a profiler when she grew up. A bona fide FBI agent with mad analytic skills who could take on crime and the jacked up minds that commit it.

Instead, the long and winding road has led straight to writing.

It all started with an obscure undergrad study spot: the usually empty upstairs of a local live music dive in Austin, TX. Psychology books in tow, Tara would grab a seat in the balcony and read her assignments between performances of local musicians, ultimately leading to an internship with Austin's Citysearch office in the late '90s.

Skip ahead a little more than a decade to present-day. Tara now spends her time interviewing musicians, researching stories and penning articles for entertainment-centered publications and websites such as Metro.pop magazine and SoundSpike.com.

Best part of the job: Researching topics I'm perplexed by and interested in.

Secretly obsessed with: Eyelash extensions. Instant femininity and loads of compliments!

Current dream vacation: An exotic beach locale with a beach bag full of new fiction. A hot man alongside wouldn't hurt either.

Theme song: Nina Simone's "Feeling Good"

Snacking on: Light rye Wasa crackers, little dollop of Dijon and thinly sliced turkey. That, or a spoonful of Nutella, my semi-healthy chocolate fix.

If trapped on a desert island: Cherry Chapstick and a fun, resourceful companion.