Once upon a time, exercise gear consisted of track 'n' fields, a balance t-shirt and, in wet weather, a spicer jacket. Your shoes had to be white, but not too white. Somewhere between 1985 and 2015, we’ve gone from that classic and sensible look to something a little more like this:
Your top has to match your shoes, your pants and your yoga matt (because well, duh). Your crop top also has to match your shoes and your pants. And your pants, well they need to tie it all together, while giving a little hat tip to your mobile phone cover. And for goodness sake, with all this blue, orange and pink, don’t even think about bringing your black drink bottle. Just. Don’t. Even.
Fitness apparel is big business. According to Business Review Australia, global athletic apparel revenue is projected to reach $180.9 billion by 2018. That’s a hell of a lot of multi-coloured spandex.
Don’t get me wrong. I spend a lot of my time in exercise gear and it helps if it is a little on trend. I think the above ensemble looks real pur-etty. But is it pur-actical? Have we maybe gone just a little ape-sh*t over this stuff?
My workout leggings are generally black, or a version of. Black does a pretty good job at hiding my tendency to sweat (profusely) when I exercise and is kinder to my thighs. Printed leggings may be look fab on pinterest and on totes-real-life-looking mannequins, but wrap geometric prints around my thighs and all of a sudden cute little triangles start looking like strained little oblongs. Also, practicality prevails for me in the legging department. I need something that is going to stay up around my tummy when I start running, jumping, burpeeing and downward doggying. It doesn’t matter how pretty those prints are – my tummy flopping over the top is soon going to spoil my exercise enthusiasm, and probably that of those around me.
When I buy tops I want them reasonably loose fitting. Even if I find the most suitably coloured racer-back singlet to go with my new tummy tucking, somehow-flattering, patterned leggings, but that top shows up every Ferrero Rocher I’ve ever enjoyed – forget it. I’m reaching for the baggy old. Even going an extra size up doesn’t always help. I’ve had many moments grabbing from the back of the rack at swanky fitness gear shops to know that when they want them fitted, they are made to be fitted. F.I.T.T.E.D.
Annnnd crop tops. Maybe I’m wrong, but back in the day of ye ol’ track 'n' field, crop tops were “training bras”. (oohhh, “Hello God, It’s Me Margaret” flashback). Do people really wear these for exercise? I’ve always been on the bigger end of the bust brigade, so for me, these crop tops are really just rather pathetic (and some are priced upwards of $70, so it’s a pricey kind of pathetic). I’d be lucky to give my teeth a good vigorous brush in some of these
training bras crop tops and feel supported, let alone bust out some star jumps. And that’s even if I get the sucker on. I mean, really:
Allow me to commentate on how getting this thing on is likely to go down. Seeing it on the shelf, I might imagine myself to be a graceful Catherine Zeta Jones moving through the lasers of Entrapment. But in reality I’m going to look like a live fish, caught in a net desperately trying to get back to sea. Back to freedom. The freedom of a normal bra (and let’s be honest “bra” and “freedom” don’t really belong in a sentence together). I’ve been there. In the change room, with such a crop top, working myself into a sweat convinced, that if they make them, they must be wearable. Then the over-enthusiastic LJ sales assistant calls out (in that threatening I’m-going-to-open-door-to-take-a-look voice) “How’s everything going in there?” Against my will, I have my forehead in my armpit, while my other arm is pinned to my back by some FREAKING ROGUE STRAP, and though my agony, fear and utter confusion, I reply “yeah great! I’m loving these new colours.”
As appealing as all this new fandangle workout gear looks (and granted there are some funky things out there that amazingly, tick all the boxes) I mainly look for leggings that do their best to hide my sweat, don’t look punished when they are on me and don’t fall below my child-beared hips when I move. I like tops that don’t remind me why I need to exercise. I prefer bras that are easy to put on and off and above all keep my boobs encapsulated during physical activity.
And basically if any of the above doesn’t match my mobile phone. Whatevs.
What do you look for in work out gear? Are you the Catherine Zeta Jones of the multi-strap crop top?