With a growing awareness of obesity and eating disorders making headlines, membership at fitness clubs and dieting fads are all the rage. In the past three years there has been a 10% increase in the American population currently belonging to a health club. However, with a sour economy, many gym-goers scrimp on fitness clothes after paying their membership fees. Workout clothing doesn’t have to break the bank to be effective and comfortable. The following factors are important when purchasing workout wear.
There are many synthetic fabrics on the market that are manufactured specifically for sweat control. Fabrics that ‘wick’ sweat off the skin work by allowing the sweat to travel to the outside of the garment where it evaporates quickly, rather than accumulating between your skin and clothing. Moisture wicking fabric is so effective that it is even used in Dickies nursing scrubs, aside for in workout apparel. Look for synthetic fabrics that contain polypropylene or blends such as polyester/lycra.
Aside from the fabric itself, some moisture-wicking clothes also have a chemical coating that further help to quickly evaporate sweat. Be careful when looking at synthetic fabrics not to go with a rubber or plastic-based fabric, because these materials may prevent moisture from evaporating and maintain a body temperature that is too high. For those who prefer natural fabrics, wool and bamboo have a degree of moisture-wicking abilities, as well.
The Right Fit
Choose the fit of your workout clothes based on the type of exercise you will be doing and the fit, rather than your body type. In general, clothes that are comfortable and not constricting are good choices. For exercises such as biking or running tight pants are a good idea so that your clothes don’t get tangled in the wheels or your feet. Yoga, pilates, and organized workouts of this nature call for stretchy, fitted fabrics. Choose clothes that will work well with the exercise you most commonly do. Look for fabrics with a small amount of spandex in their makeup, which will provide stretch and flexibility without being skin tight. The right garment will incorporate the features you need without discriminating on fit. For example, for outdoor exercise look for workout clothes that have pockets for your cell phone and other necessities.
When exercising outside the clothes you wear can greatly affect your performance. In the heat it is important to wear light, breathable fabrics. Clothes that provide good coverage will protect the skin from sunburn. Look for light colors that won’t absorb sunlight. In cold weather, layering is the way to go. Start with a light, moisture wicking garment. Your next layer should be warm and lightweight, such as fleece. Finish with a weather-resistant top such as a nylon windbreaker. As you exercise you build body heat, and you can shed layers as needed.
The workout apparel industry is one that is highly competitive, and new products are constantly being introduced. While not all equipment lives up to the hype, many of today’s technological advancements could greatly benefit productivity. Reflectors and luminescent jackets are a necessity for those who are outdoors at night, and some synthetic thermal garments are sprayed with a water repellent finish that protects the wearer from rain and snow. Many new products feature anti-microbial technology to combat odor. New technology is being churned out a fast pace, and it is a good idea to look into some features that will benefit your workout conditions.
The right workout clothes can be a big factor in overall productivity. An informed consumer is one who is able to make smart decisions, and get the most bang for their buck.
Josh Weiss is a self-proclaimed workout junkie and a sucker for the latest and greatest in exercise apparel. He often looks for fabrics that are similar to those of Dickies medical scrubs, as they share common factors that increase efficiency.