“What should I wear for the first time at the gym?” is probably one of the most common questions fitness instructors, personal trainers, and athletic wear sellers hear. Given that there are countless ways to stay active and exercise, there isn’t a universal answer to fit both genders and all sports.
Luckily, there are hundreds of good options available and plenty of people who can tell you what worked for them and what didn’t. So, let’s take a look at some suggestions from professionals, and come up with an attire that will best suit your body type, activity, and environment.
Decide what part of your body needs to stay in place
Sports equipment varies depending on gender, so you can’t assume a pair of tights will be good for both men and women, even though they are designed for the same sports activity.
The most “bouncy” part of a woman’s body is her chest, so you need to first find a good sports bra or a bralette that provides the right type of support. Generally speaking, bralettes are divided into three categories – mild support, medium support, and strong support, depending on the size of your chest and the type of activity you’re performing.
Mild activities like yoga, Pilates, and powerlifting require minimum support for your breasts while running, kickboxing, and jumping put more pressure on your chest, which means you’ll need a sports bra with proper support.
Wearing your regular bra at the gym is a big no-no, and so is wearing the wrong type of support. If you were blessed with a big chest (cups C and above), sagginess isn’t the only thing you have to worry about. Doctors claim that the wrong level of support can cause upper back and shoulder pain post-workout, apart from loose tissues.
As for men, you can probably figure out which part of their bodies requires the most support, so find a pair of boxers or athletic pants that will keep everything in place while also providing comfort and proper ventilation.
The general idea around working out is to lose weight by sweating, which means you need clothes that can absorb extra moisture and keep your skin cool throughout the workout. You’ll also want fabrics that ensure proper air ventilation to prevent overheating and rashes, so cotton is one of the smartest and most popular choices.
Cotton won’t pull the sweat away from the skin so, even though you might feel clothes made of cotton heavy and wet as you exercise, they are a better choice than synthetic fibers.
Synthetic fabrics that work
Companies like Adidas, Decathlon, Nike, Reebok, and Under Armor have spent dozens of millions of dollars on fiber research to come up with the best synthetic materials designed for athletes and those who work out. Thus, not all synthetic fibers are bad for your skin.
If you’re wondering why a pair of yoga or workout pants from one of these big companies can cost up to 20 times more than a regular pair of sweats from your local Target store, the answer lies in the research behind the fabrics.
Fabrics such as Supplex or CoolMax are perfect for extremely sweaty activities as they allow sweat to evaporate faster, leaving your skin cool, dry, and comfortable. A similar effect you can find in fabrics containing polypropylene, so make sure to invest in quality sports attire to enhance your performance and keep your body in the best possible shape.
On the other hand, plastic-based materials, as well as those that contain rubber, will prevent sweat from evaporating, maintaining high body temperature during the workout. Apart from feeling sweaty, high temperatures and humidity represent the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.
Get the proper fit
As we previously mentioned, finding the right attire for your workout depends on the type of physical activity you are doing. However, comfortable clothes are always a must, so make sure to first try on your pants and shirts.
Although loose clothes may seem the ideal choice, you don’t want them too baggy either as they might stand in your way. If you’re biking, kickboxing, running, or performing any other activity that mainly focuses on your legs, you should avoid loose or wide-leg pants that might get tangled up and cause injuries or discomfort.
Pilates, yoga, fitness, and most other indoor sports should be conducted wearing fitted fabrics, especially yoga pants. As for the tops, it would be better to opt for the right sports bra and a looser shirt to prevent overheating and allow your skin to breathe properly.
Dress according to the season
This tip applies only if you like outdoor activities that are dependent on the weather. For the hot, summer days you want to choose clothes and fabrics that ensure maximum air ventilation and won’t retain moisture or sweat too much. Don’t forget that clothes should also be comfortable and allow you to move freely.
As the temperatures drop, you’ll want to switch to fabrics that will retain body heat and will keep you warm. Layers are welcome as long as they follow the same rule of not getting in your way when you’re exercising.
The best way to regulate your body temperature as you exercise is to keep the first layer of clothing close to your skin. Opt for quick-dry and absorbent fabrics that will maintain your body cool and dry throughout the workout.
The next layer should be thicker but also easy to remove if you get too hot. Lastly, you’ll want a third layer of insulating gear that will prevent water, wind, or cold temperatures from getting in contact with your skin. Don’t forget that this layer will be the first one to remove once you get warm, so opt for zippers, buttons, and anything else that can be taken off without too much of a struggle.
Invest in good shoes and socks
While you can easily change your pants or a T-shirt after they got sweaty, finding a replacement pair of shoes that is as good and comfortable as the one you’re wearing might be a bit trickier, not to mention more expensive.
Thus, we advise you to invest in high-quality shoes and socks, appropriate for the type of activity you’re into.
Upper mesh shoes are lightweight and extremely breathable, ensuring maximum air circulation and absorbing extra moisture. They are perfect for running and gym activities, except weightlifting.
If you’re into wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, or other similar contact sports, you’ll have to look for a pair of shoes preferably made of leather, with higher, flat soles. The shoes should be a bit more rigid and should also cover your ankles to provide maximum support and prevent injuries, including sprains and twists.
If you prefer running or jogging, you want to invest in a pair of shoes with extra cushion on your heels to absorb shocks and prevent calluses and blisters. Also, consider opting for half a size up than you would normally wear to prevent discomfort caused by swollen feet.
As for the socks, opt for high-quality ones made of cotton and avoid plastic fibers and polyester as much as you can.
Last, we never encourage you to re-wear your sports attire before carefully washing it. Remove your top, workout pants, and socks the minute you get home or leave the gym to head for the showers, and store them in a separate bag until you can wash them.
Ideally, you would want to have two-three pairs of trainers to switch and allow the others to dry naturally. If that’s not possible, consider washing your shoes in the washing machine at least once a week but keep in mind that all fabrics (including leather, mesh, and suede) will cut, break, or wear after a while.
Last but not least, to maximize your training sessions, avoid wearing unnecessary jewelry. Watches, bracelets, and large earrings should be taken off before every workout to prevent damaging or losing them.
Rings can be kept as long as they are comfortable and they are not big and prominent. The same goes for necklaces but you might want to remove them to avoid losing them or getting tangled in them.
Don’t forget that sweat and body oils can easily get in contact with your preferred piece of jewelry and damage it in time. This is mainly true for watches or jewelry that can corrode, including silver. You also risk an allergic reaction if you add metal, body sweat, dirt, and oils to the same equation.
If you don’t want to take off your wedding band during the workout, it would be best to cover it with a small band-aid.
Keep your clothes on
Finally, as tempting as it may sound or as proud as you are about your body progress, try keeping your shirt on while at the gym or exercising outside. Keep in mind that you’re not the only one using the machines and nobody wants to get in contact with your sweat.