Look AND Feel Good! How to Choose the Best Sportswear for Your Needs

fit woman in workout clothes

You’ll never get the body you want without exercise, and there are some insides tricks to staying motivated. The right sportswear can have you looking great, feeling strong, and is a real boost to motivation. Choosing the wrong workout gear can mean chafing, injuries, sunburn and an end to your exercise regime.

But how to choose workout gear that is fit for purpose, and stylish? Read this guide to make sure you know how to choose the best sportswear.

Exercise Attire Has Come a Long Way

Remember exercise apparel in the 80s? If not, let us tell you, it was slopsville. Sloppy sweats, baggy shorts, and ripped t-shirts.

It looked more like pajamas than anything you’d recognize as sports gear today. Eventually, aerobics got popular and stretchy fabric got cool along with it. Spandex slowly started to spread into other sports activities.

Fast-forward to today, where technological advances have made big changes in what we wear when we work out. Advances in sportswear are about much more than aesthetics. The clothes you wear affect how you feel after exercise.

There are two key areas you want to think about when choosing workout wear: Fabric and Fit. You want to make sure both of these are right for the sport that you’re doing.

Why Is Fabric Important?

Some fabrics can get the sweat away from our body and dry quickly, keeping us feeling fresh. Others lock in the heat and leave you feeling like some sort of rotisserie chicken. Some absorb sweat but allow air flow to slowly dry the fabric.

There are some fabrics you’ll want to look for. For most exercises, wicking materials are a good choice. These ‘wick’ sweat away from your body, allowing you to cool as sweat evaporates more quickly.

Look for polypropylene, Coolmax, and Supplex if you’re doing high-intensity high-sweat exercise. Cotton is a decent compromise if you can’t afford more expensive wicking materials starting out. It’ll absorb sweat.

Cotton won’t wick it away from your body and evaporate quickly, but it’ll still allow some airflow, being a breathable fabric. Cons to cotton are that if you are in high-intensity, high-sweat activities it will get heavy. But it’s suitable for light exercise as slight sweat will dry relatively quickly.

So if cotton and wicking fabrics work well, what are the fabrics to avoid? At all costs avoid plastic-based materials as they don’t evaporate sweat. Your body will struggle to lower the core temperature in the recovery phase of the activity.

Why Is Fit Important?

Ever jogged in jeans? Or tried kick-boxing in khakis? Some fabrics allow movement, others restrict.

The right stuff strikes a balance by holding you in without restricting your movement. It will largely depend on the exercise you want to do as to which fit is best for you. If you’re doing a gentle walk each morning, go for loose and comfortable, allowing air to enter and sweat to evaporate.

If you’re more of a runner or cyclist, avoid anything so loose it might get caught in wheels or under feet. Capris are perfect as they get around the risk of fabric at the ankle that can catch. Lycra is particularly popular among cyclists as it wicks away sweat during mountain climbs but will still keep out the cold on those early morning rides.

Go for fitted, stretchy fabrics for slow, stretching activities like Pilates or yoga. However, if it’s Bikram yoga will need a specific kind of yoga gear. Bikram yoga is done in a warm, humid room to get maximum stretch out of your muscles.

That means you’ll want yoga gear specially made to wick that intense sweat away as you work out in the hot and humid Bikram yoga environment.

Beyond wicking and breathability, there are some other technical fabric factors worth knowing. Compression leggings can make muscles repair faster, so you can get out there and burn more calories with less rest time. They’re especially popular with high-impact athletes like sprinters and footballers.

Consequences of Poor Exercise Apparel

Choose your workout gear well and you’ll feel great, look fantastic, and be motivated to workout. Choose badly and you could suffer from anything from chafe and skin infections to sunburn and injuries. A great example is running shoes.

For a couple of decades, runners looked for a firm wedge under the heel to provide support. Over time physiotherapists noticed increasing numbers of muscle strains and knee tensions. Runners choosing flatter shoes had fewer injuries, as their foot fell in a way that supported the strain on muscles and joints better.

That’s why now you’ll occasionally see barefoot runners or joggers with very flat soles on their running shoes.

How to Choose the Best Sportswear

Think about how you’ll use it. If you’re looking for volleyball shorts, for example, there’s a big difference between the kinds you’ll want indoors vs playing outdoors or at the beach. Our biggest tip, is that try it on as you would your sports shoes.

Don’t just put it on and look in the mirror. Try some high-kicks. Jog on the spot.

Squat, then sit. How does it feel during movement? It should feel firm and fitted but never restrictive.

For women, the best money you’ll spend is in a supportive, comfortable sports bra. As with other articles of sportswear, the test is this: you shouldn’t have to think about it at all. You should be able to forget what you’re wearing entirely, and focus on the game and giving it your best performance.

Time to Shop for the Best Exercise Wear

Make some notes about what exercises you’re likely to be doing, and in what sort of weather and conditions. That’ll clarify a little what you need, so you don’t get distracted by sportswear that looks amazing but doesn’t fit your purposes in the store. If you see friends wearing gear you love, don’t be afraid to ask them where they got it.

So long as you focus on fit, form, and fabric, you’ll be set. If you liked this article, share it with your fitness buddies so you can head out and shop for the best sportswear together! Check out more great articles on getting healthy at our blog.