How to find the right workout gear for you

August 18, 2014

For Chicagoan Joi Carthan, the hardest part about shopping for workout clothes is finding something both fashionable and comfortable.

"Every body type is different," Carthan said.

When youíre shopping for an upcoming workout, experts say to consider a few things alongside comfort.

Material. Sonya Ramgotra, head of design at MPG Sport, suggests looking on the tag for materials that will benefit your workout. Keep an eye out for breathable materials that include moisture wicking, the stretchy material spandex and elastic.

Brooke Johnson, who works in community relations at Lululemon, recommends looking for preshrunk clothes, since those clothes will withstand washes over time.

Be sure to watch out for clothes with seams, which can cause chaffing and irritation. And unless youíre training for a high-intensity event or in recovery, compression clothing isnít necessary, said Keryn Francisco, creative director at Lucy.

"If youíre working out to stay active and fit, we recommend focusing on comfort, such as lightweight fabrics that encourage airflow, (and) cozy fabrics in cold weather to keep you warm and supportive but not restrictive use of stretch," Francisco said.

Activity. Depending on how your physical activity, you should look for certain details when shopping. For runners, Ramgotra suggests bottoms with elastic waistbands to keep shorts from falling down, strategically placed pockets and clothing with reflectivity. For yoga, Johnson says to avoid zippers, pockets and loose clothing because youíll be doing a lot of work on your back and stomach.

"When youíre working out, youíre just thinking of the workout and not the clothes on your body," Johnson said. "The clothes should become like a second skin."

Bikers should look for form-fitted bottoms with padding specific to the hours youíll be riding. Also, cyclists should look for tops with a raglan seam, a seam thatís specifically designed for a hunched-over body with a longer backside, Ramgotra said.

Price. If you only plan on doing yoga once a week, then the $90 yoga pants probably arenít for you. But those who regularly work out might want to consider investing in long-lasting brands.

"I still have Lululemon clothes from when I started working nine years ago," Johnson said.

And according to Francisco, the investment in better material is important for any workout.

"Itís worth paying for a garment that has been engineered to have zero-distraction, zero-chafing and maximum support so you can participate in your activity without thinking about your clothes," she said.

But for Joel Ingersoll, personal trainer and psychologist, comfort is more important than expensive brand names.

"Iíve worked out in clothes from Adidas to Nike to Hanes T-shirts, and they certainly work for me," Ingersoll said.



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