We’ve all seen the cute joggers bouncing down the street during rush hour with their form-fitting, attractive outfits. Whether they’re men or women, they’re not jogging…they’re trolling. When we’re serious about staying on a fitness exercise program, the last thing we care about is looks. No matter what your exercise program, there are four common factors you need to consider when buying exercise apparel: Comfort, Safety, Economy and Quality.
Comfortable Exercise Apparel: The tight-fitting pants may be a real magnet for the opposite sex, but they’re a dead giveaway that you’re not serious about fitness. That’s because the hours each week that a good fitness program demands will be very uncomfortable. First, there’s chafing! You know, that friction between tight clothing and skin every time you move.
I can’t even tell you the places I got sores because I ignored comfort. Then, there’s that uncomfortable intrusion tight clothes make into certain crevasses as you exercise. Need I say more? When we choose pants and tops for exercise, it’s good to pick loose-fitting styles that allow the maximum of flexibility. Yes, you’ll look heavy! But, if you’re serious about fitness, the last thing you want the opposite sex seeing is you, exercising.
While we’re discussing comfort, make sure the apparel is made mostly of cotton. Cotton absorbs sweat, removing it from your skin, but allowing it to cool you as air flows through the moist cotton fibers. Most synthetics don’t absorb, leave the sweat on your body and prevent air flow, causing you to overheat. It seems to be getting more difficult to find natural fabric in exercise apparel, so you may need to stock up when you find the right items. I’ve found I can get away with synthetics in the outer garments, as long as underpants, t-shirts and socks are cotton. If your exercise requires a jock strap or sports bra, the more cotton you can get in those things, the better.
Safety: There are people who are concerned with safety and those just concerned with looks. I’ve always followed the engineer’s motto, “Form follows function.” After months dodging cars in my dark, sleek jogging outfit, I noticed a guy who had those shoes with the batteries and flashing lights. He wore a jacket with that ugly reflective tape on it. He really looked silly! The funny things was, all the cars saw him and almost hit me. That’s when I realized, if I was going to walk for exercise, I had to have a way for the cars to see me in dark or foggy conditions. Choose Brightly colored, multi-colored clothing with white, bright yellows, oranges and stuff. If you have trouble finding (or affording) that stuff, go to the hardware store and get reflective tape or a road-worker’s vest…you’ve seen them.
Shoes are on the top of my list of safety items. Yes, safety…not style. If any part of your exercise will be on your feet, it’s important to have the highest quality, best designed shoes. You can save money everywhere but here. Sport shoes are designed for the specific exercise activity, so don’t try to jog in tennis shoes or play basketball in jogging shoes. A friend of mine who jogs five miles a day gave me some advice on what brand of shoes to buy, “The most expensive brand in the store.” His reasoning was, a company could not stay in business if they provided poor quality for a very high price. The Government, maybe, but not a company. Along with the shoes, if you’re doing a lot of on-your-feet exercise, get high quality, cushioned, sweat absorbing, mostly cotton socks.
Economy: Everywhere other than shoes or specialized exercise equipment, you can save a lot of money. Old t-shits are great for exercise, along with old, broken-in and blown-out jeans. If you’re really on a budget but you want new clothes to be dedicated to exercise, the least expensive exercise outfit I’ve seen is flannel pajamas. Look! If the kids can wear them to school, you can exercise in them. They’re loose, mostly cotton and very inexpensive.
Quality: As casual as I think exercise should be and as subjective as the term is, quality is an important element of exercise apparel. We’ve already discussed shoes and socks. Other areas of apparel where the highest quality should be insisted upon are accessories specific to your exercise area. They could be pads, supporters, hats, goggles, gloves, etc. If you’re exercising with these things several hours per week, quality is as important as comfort. You don’t want to be always fussing with your stuff rather than just pushing your exercise routine. Also, going back and forth to repair or replace faulty apparel can discourage the long-term exercise goals.