Yoga pants and sports bras are no longer just for attending yoga classes.
Athleisure, or fancy workout clothes, caters to women who wear their fitness gear from the gym to the grocery store, to the cafe, and beyond. Basically, we now live in our fitness gear.
And why not? Stretchy soft pants and comfy sports bras are way more comfortable than jeans and normal bras.
Unfortunately, athleisure is just as expensive as our jeans and bras, if not more expensive.
But is there any benefit to buying high-end fitness clothing? Do they affect our workout performance in any way?
Quality matters when it comes to choosing the right fitness wear. But quality and a high price tag don’t always go together.
You can get the same quality fitness clothing at a mid-range price point as you would shopping at Athleta or Lululemon, for example.
When you buy from big brand athleisure companies, you’re paying more for the name. The quality of their clothing is no better than lesser-known fitness brands that use the same materials.
As long as your fitness clothing meets certain quality criteria, brand name shouldn’t matter.
Check the seams to make sure they’re solid. Loose seams will only unravel over time, especially after wear and tear. Fitness clothes should be made to withstand movement and stretching. Loose seams won’t do you any good in the gym.
Look for material that fits best with your needs. For example, if you’re a runner, you’ll want clothing that doesn’t restrict your movement in any way. Yet you need enough elastic in places to keep your fitness clothes snug without slipping down while you run. If you’re a yogi, you’ll want to be sure your clothing can stretch with you. Clothing that doesn’t stretch will limit your range of motion.
Your fitness clothing should fit you comfortably. Uncomfortable clothing will hinder your workout performance. Fidgeting with your clothes while exercising (such as pulling up loose shorts or tugging at a tight sports bra) is distracting. Make sure the fit is just right; otherwise, it will impact your workout.
Expensive, brand-name fitness clothing doesn’t provide any extra benefit to your workout. Good quality fitness gear comes in all price ranges.
Discount retailers like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Ross offer new workout gear for a great value. You’ll get decent, trendy fitness clothing that doesn’t break the bank.
Additionally, thrift stores and consignment shops may also sell gently used fitness clothing at a lower price than you’d find in a retail store.
Second-hand retail stores like The Shopp in Portland sell gently used second-hand women’s clothing. They carry everything from trendy outerwear to shoes and women’s workout clothing. The Shopp is a women-owned non-profit that donates all proceeds to victims of human trafficking.
The Village Merchants is another local Portland second-hand shop that sells women’s and men’s used clothing. You can buy, sell, or trade for reasonably priced clothing, accessories, and more.
The Goodwill of the Columbia Willamette has one of the largest selections of used clothing and goods in Portland. Goodwill is a chain of second-hand retail stores that sells donated goods at a heavily discounted price. They have a wide variety of women’s and men’s clothing, including fitness gear.
Most used clothing is sold only if it’s been gently used. Meaning, most consignment or thrift shops won’t buy used clothing that’s damaged.
But you should still do your own inspection before purchasing any used fitness clothing.
Check the most vulnerable spots, such as the inner thighs or crotch on leggings, for signs of overuse. These areas on leggings and pants experience the most friction and may have thinning fabric if overused.
For fitness gear like sports bras, check the elastic of the straps and waist. Overused sports bras can get stretched out and therefore provide no real benefit when worn.
The idea of wearing fitness clothing that another unknown person has sweated in might sound icky. But, wearing second-hand workout clothing is no different than wearing second-hand street clothes.
The only risk you take with wearing used fitness clothing is contracting bacteria or fungi from unwashed clothing. But if you take proper steps to thoroughly clean your second-hand clothing before wearing it, you needn’t worry.
Make sure you wash your used fitness clothing in hot water and laundry detergent to kill any bacteria or fungi that may be present. Ideally, your clothing should reach a temperature of 150 degrees to kill all germs successfully.
Running your fitness clothing through a hot water cycle in your washing machine followed by drying them in high heat in your dryer should do the job. Because most fitness clothing is made from synthetic fabric like polyester, nylon, and spandex, you don’t have to worry about them shrinking.
Soaking your fitness clothing in a mixture of vinegar or baking soda before washing will help to disinfect and remove any lingering odor. Both the vinegar and baking soda will wash out in the washing machine without leaving behind any strange smell.
Trendy fitness gear doesn’t have to be expensive.
Discount retailers and second-hand shops offer the same quality clothing for a lot less than you’d buy in-store.
Buying second-hand fitness clothing is no different or any less sanitary than buying other used goods.
And aside from saving your cash, you’ll also be doing your part by shopping sustainably.