Look Good While You Get Fit
The right exercise clothes can improve your workout -- and your attitude
You don't have to wait until you're fit to look good while working out. In
fact, experts say, what you wear to the gym can go a long way toward helping
you stay motivated and confident -- and can even improve your workout
"Putting on a flattering outfit motivates people to actually go to the
gym or to exercise outdoors in public," says performance coach Larina Kase,
PsyD, MBA, president of Performance and Success Coaching LLC in
This, of course, raises the question: Just what is flattering? That depends
on your individual body shape and size, says Kase.
As a general rule, though, she suggests that black shorts, a sports bra, and
a colored top -- lime green, soft pink, and shades of blue are in style right
now -- are a flattering choice for most women.
Men tend toward black for their workout outfits, which is always a safe
choice, says Lynne Brick, BSN, president and owner of Brick Bodies and Lynne
Brick's Women's Health & Fitness in Baltimore. "Everyone looks great in
black, regardless of size, shape, or fitness level."
Those who are not confident about their body images should look for workout
clothes that provide good coverage, says Melissa Ediger, assistant product
manager for New Balance fitness apparel.
A short-sleeved shirt and mid-thigh-length shorts with a relaxed (but not
oversized) fit are a good choice for men and women alike, she says. Heavyset
people may experience leg chafing while working out, but wearing compression or
bicycle-type shorts under a looser pair of shorts will eliminate this problem,
Aside from avoiding anything unflattering (there are usually lots of mirrors
in a gym!), it's a good idea to stay away from any outfit you don't feel good
about, says health educator Victoria Moran, author of Fit from Within: 101
Simple Secrets to Change Your Body and Your Life.
"Exercise requires energy, and putting on the sweats you wore for three
days straight when you broke up with your last boyfriend or girlfriend is an
energy-zapper," she says.
After all, workout clothes serve both a practical and a psychological
purpose. "On a practical level, you need special workout clothes simply
because street clothes are either too constricting, or they'll rip, or they're
made from non-breathable fibers," Moran says. "But psychologically, you
need special workout gear to convince yourself it's time to work out.
Put Function First
Of course, looking good isn't the only consideration when choosing a workout
outfit. Your best bet for any activity is to choose clothes that stretch and
bend with you, the experts say.
"You don't want to choose loose-fitting or short shorts, and then not be
able to use the machines or do floor exercises that require a straddle
position," Kase says. Long shirts with loose sleeves will also get in the
way, and could even be dangerous if they get caught in the equipment.