So I had to stifle some laughs when I was on the elliptical and suddenly the Gorton's Fish Man stepped onto the treadmill next to me...I'm talking scraggly salt-n-pepper beard, super tall, and the full on bright yellow slicker jacket! Now, this is hardly the first time that someone's gym clothes attire has caused a double take. It sometimes mystifies me not only that they'd choose to run in a pair of jeans (can anyone say chaffage?!?!) but sometimes it amazes me that they can actually DO the activity. I do have to give credit to the person I saw running, and at a fairly decent pace, in a pair of flip-flops.
Some of my other favorites? The woman who was wearing peep-toe pumps in the weight room, I guess she must really trust her grip on those dumbbells. I've seen the runner in jeans a few times, but the best was the guy who had a huge belt and what had to have been a janitor's size ring of keys clanging around his waist; there was also a either a huge cellphone or wallet in his pocket.
But with all the headway sports clothing manufacturers have made in the last few decades, with all the technical moisture-wicking materials to be had...why choose to suffer unduly on account of what you're wearing during your workouts? Now, don't get me wrong, I'm by no means a person rolling in the dough and make it a point to sniff out deals when I can, but good exercise clothing and shoes is important enough to me that I make sure to suit up right AND something decent isn't always crazy expensive. If you shop off-season and go to the right places you'd be surprised that even though the labels boast of all this technical jargon you may not even fully understand, they aren't out of your budget. What's more is that if taken care of properly your gear will last a long time.
So, before I go off on too much of a little rant here, I'll just give a quick run-down (haha, yes a lame pun people, feel free to chuckle or eye-roll at will!) of what is real workout gear...and jeans, flip-flops, and stiletto's don't make the cut.
- Let It Breathe- Okay, you should be sweating if you're doing your workouts right and that's a good thing. But choosing a standard cotton tee will leave you with big pit stains and by the end you could be weighed down with a few extra pounds of wet shirt! Opt for clothing made of a moisture-wicking and breathable materials, these will also help regulate body temperature and make your working out much more enjoyable. This can go all the way down to your socks, and high quality socks are also important to help stave off blisters.
- Keep It Warm- In cold weather you want to think layers and be sure to keep those muscles warm to avoid an injury. Base layers will be of the same kind of moisture-wicking material because if you're left wearing a sweat soaked shirt (you still sweat even when it's cold out, even if you don't see it) you're going to get cold. Then if it's rainy and windy you need something breathable but also water resistant to keep out the elements and there are outerwear garments designed for just that.
- All Hail Da'Feet- A big sticking point for me is proper workout shoes because many people are just unaware of just HOW important shoes are. If you're working out in a cheap pair of shoes, or ones that aren't for your foot type, you're begging for an injury. Now shoes are kind of expensive, but not getting good ones will leave you paying in different ways later: sorenesses, stress fractures, shin splints, days off, etc...so here we just have to bite the bullet. I will go into more detail on getting the best shoe specific for your foot-type in a later post, but generally look for something specifically noted as a fitness shoes, brand names are our friends here, and something with both support and cushioning. And what may sound dumb but a common mistake, is buy the right size; you want there to be about a thumb's width between your toe and the front of the shoe. When we workout our feet actually swell and expand.
- Take a Load Off- To the janitor with his keyring, don't pack around more than you have too...it'll only slow you down. Okay, this may be just a common sense type of thing in saying that you shouldn't be slugging around a ton of excess items, but then again there ARE instances (you're out running but you locked your car and will need the key to get back in) when there are some little things you'll need. Quality workout gear will have places for that; there are these slim little pockets in the lining of most shorts, some shirts have the same sort of deal on them too. And if all else fails you can tie it on a shoelace.
- Take Care Ladies- This is for the women; definitely make sure you're wearing a sports bra when working out. They are designed specifically for reducing excessive motion and especially if you're blessed with a chest you can actually do lasting tissue damage is you're not wearing something with enough support. The elastin and other skin fibers can be damaged and stretched and leave you fighting gravity years earlier than you'd like. Again opt for a moisture-wicking and breathable material...we're all about comfort!