If you’re looking to invest in high quality gym gear that is going to last, there is more to consider than pure durability. A drawer full of beautiful, expensive but unworn fitness gear is just as bad a guilt-trip as the unused gym membership eroding your bank balance each month. In both cases the key to success is trying to figure out what will work best for you before you splash any cash. This article is all about tips for picking pieces that will serve you best, pitfalls to avoid, and practical things to look out for in the pieces you choose. Here’s to a fitness routine that can last beyond January!
Before you start looking
1. Are you buying as motivation?
It can be tempting to buy pretty gym gear simply to get yourself moving, especially in a burst of new year enthusiasm. This can be a terrible strategy if you’re unrealistic about your goals; if you ultimately find yoga boring then, sadly, no amount of beautiful yoga tops and expensive mats will make you keep it up. Your workout of choice will also have a big impact on the type of fabric and fit you will need. Thinking carefully about the routine you want - and holding off on any big, activity-specific purchases until you’ve decided - will make sure that you’re spending for the right reasons.
While you’re looking
2. Does it make you feel good?
Once you do have an honest idea of your routine, clothing and equipment can have a huge impact on your workout. Exercise is an incredible mood lifter, but if you’re working out in a faded, baggy Nirvana T-Shirt from 1993 you probably won’t be feeling your best. To get the most out of your time exercising, which will help ensure you keep doing it, look for pieces that are flattering and well fitting as well as comfortable.
3. Would you wear it outside the gym?
With the best will in the world, sometimes our exercise intentions fall through. Buying comfortable workout gear that you will also love to wear lounging around the house, meeting friends or travelling will make sure you’re getting the most out of your purchase in the long term. “Athleisure” has become a buzzword recently, but really it makes perfect sense to buy clothing that works well across multiple areas of your life, reducing clutter and overstuffed wardrobes.
When you’ve found a garment
4. What kind of fabric is it?
Fabric composition is important when considering clothing for exercise, but different types have pros and cons for different activities. Our bodies are designed to sweat, and if the fabric isn’t breathable you could be putting yourself up for unnecessary discomfort. Synthetic fibres can be fast drying and resistant to abrasion for heavier activities, but are essentially types of plastic, coming with all its inherent downsides. Natural fibres like cotton are softer, more breathable and just plain nicer - but then the high absorbency can make them become heavy and clammy if you plan to really break a sweat.
It’s possible to find lots of workout gear made from recycled polyester these days, and chucking your synthetic gear into a Guppyfriend Bag will mean you can wash your gear without worrying about releasing harmful plastic microfibres into the environment.
5. Will it take a beating?
Exercising doesn’t just put our muscles under strain. If you want your activewear to last a long time it’s crucial to make sure it’s constructed to last. Assessing the seams will usually tell you this very quickly; pull very gently on the seam and the stitching shouldn’t offer much resistance. Look out for reinforced stitching (a secondary line of smaller stitches supporting a primary seam) and flatlocked seams (one of the strongest seams, pictured below.)