Print Edition: February 5, 2014
You might like to imagine that the gym is a place where you can wear whatever you like and not be judged for it. Everyone is sweaty, dishevelled, and generally unpresentable. Who’s going to look twice if you arrive in a wife-beater and sweats?
However, gyms are a place where presentation matters. What do you think everyone is thinking about while on the treadmill or lifting in front of the wall-to-floor mirrors? Their appearance, and yours. Gym rats are fit, well-dressed, and judgmental.
So how do you dress for function and fashion? You don’t need Nike, Lululemon, or Under Armour; expensive workout wear is not required to be dressed gym-appropriate.
More than anywhere else, what you wear should reflect functionality. (I don’t mean literally reflective — bright green and pink neon is meant for running out of doors, where you actually need to be seen.) Your clothes should strike a balance between allowing active movement — not too tight — and fitting your form so excess fabric doesn’t impede your workout. Low-hanging, boxer-exposing basketball shorts, for example, tend to be a bad idea, as are restrictively tight push-up sports bras.
Take into consideration the activity you intend to do when dressing; if spinning is your primary cardio, don’t wear wide-legged yoga pants. If you are more into stand-alone exercises, such as lifting free weights or pilates-type movements, wear relaxed, stretchable materials.
The material you wear should emphasize breathability. Lycra and spandex tend to do the trick, and if you’re willing to spend a bit more, material containing polypropylene such as Coolmax and Supplex won’t absorb sweat, leaving your clothes feeling light and cool. Cotton should be avoided, as it sticks to your skin, preventing natural evaporation of perspiration.
As for the colour, material that doesn’t give a tell-all of how much you’re actually sweating is only polite. Light grey tends to show the dampness and white turns yellow fairly quickly.
T-shirts and sweat pants with snarky comments on them —“your workout is my warm-up” and the like — should be left at home. Gym-goers don’t want to be reading what’s written on your backside.
People go to the gym for very different reasons. There are the gym bros, who tend to socialize while showing off the upper limits of their bench press abilities; the sport athletes, who deftly perform exercises most of us have never even considered attempting; the cliques of gossiping Lululemon-clad girls; and nervous gym newbies. As gyms are fairly enclosed spaces, we need to respect the diversity of all our fellow gym attendees.
Dress appropriately, be considerate, and leave the peacock feathers at home.