Look 10 Pounds Thinner Before You Hit The Gym
Slimming sweats? Tummy-trimming tops? They do exist. If you skip workouts for fear that Spandex will highlight every lump, take heart. You can find figure-flattering workout wear no matter what your size or body type. Find out how to shop smart before you sweat…
“The most common mistake is wearing the wrong size”, says Karyn Riale, retail buyer for The Shop at Equinox, a chain of 40 clothing stores found in the company’s fitness clubs around the country. “Women often wear oversized T-shirts and stretched-out, baggy pants. But when you have too much fabric, it’s not comfortable or easy to move.”
Hiding extra pounds beneath the baggy elephant look doesn’t work well, especially for activities like yoga, Pilates, and stretching, Oglethorpe warns. The clothing twists, bunches, catches under your heels, and keeps you from seeing whether you’re doing a pose or movement correctly. “It’s tough to concentrate on your form while you’re tugging on your clothing,” she says.
“The right clothes and fit will actually enhance your workout,” says Kilee Hughes, a spokesperson for Nike. “The wrong ones can make you so uncomfortable and self-conscious that you focus on what you’re wearing instead of what you’re doing.”
“If you want a flattering effect, don’t go baggy,” advises Craig Vanderoef, apparel product line manager for Brooks, a running-wear company. “Semi-fitted garments that follow the shape of your body without clinging can be very feminine.”
Riale’s favorite choice is Supplex, a stretchy, lightweight nylon fabric with a soft, cottony feel. “It’s key for a woman who has lumps and bumps on her legs or backside because, unlike Spandex, which highlights figure flaws, Supplex holds her in and smoothes her out,” she says. A dense but supple fabric, Supplex also moves easily with your body when you exercise.
Whatever you do, don’t opt for cotton, which loses its shape quickly, adding to a baggy look. “And cotton absorbs moisture, so it gets wet and abrasive when you sweat, which leads to chafing,” Vanderoef explains. When a fabric gets wet, you’re more apt to overheat or get cold. Instead of cotton, choose a fabric called moisture-transfer, designed to speed evaporation and help regulate body temperature.
Among the hottest looks for spring is the Capri workout pant. Long enough to keep trouble areas covered but cooler than full pants, Capris bring a fresh, sexy edge to workout wear. “Tight-leg capris are a huge trend,” Riale says. “We can’t keep them in stock. Flared-leg Capris are popular, too, though some women think those make them look shorter.”
Makers of athletic wear are also rolling out flattering new fabrics and state-of-the-art trimming technologies that slim the derriere. “The pants act like a pushup bra for your backside,” Vanderoef says. “They hide wrinkles and bumps and keep everything in place.” In fact, some of her customers say that when they slip on the pants, they automatically look like they’ve been working out for three months.
Need a slimming effect for your upper body? “Find pieces designed with princess seams,” says Patty Kelly, apparel product manager for the sports products company ASICS. “They create a slenderizing effect around the waist and make the hips appear smaller.”
Princess seams are form-fitting seams in the front or back that begin at the shoulder and extend to the waistline or hem. For example, sleeveless tops and running tops featuring curved vertical lines that draw attention away from the waist toward the shoulders.
To distract attention from an apple shape, choose a well-fitting T-shirt or tank that falls slightly below the waist and has an A-line bottom, which creates a slimming effect, Riale says. Or layer a lightweight tank top under a T-shirt. The tank will smooth you out and create an elongating effect.
Oglethorpe likes seamless garments, which minimize bulkiness. Seamless used to indicate skin-tight, she says, “but now companies are incorporating smooth, seamless styles into looser-cut items.”
Another option: Wear a brightly colored tank under a lightweight black zippered sweat jacket, and unzip the jacket a bit. The colorful “V” will draw eyes to your face and produce a narrowing effect, Vanderoef says.
The sports bra is an important but often overlooked element of a woman’s workout wardrobe. “The average woman is in the wrong bra”, Vanderoef says. And if you’re not in the right size, you won’t get the right support.
“Women usually choose sports bras based on their cup size”, Riale says. But the best measure is overall body size.
A sports bra shouldn’t create bulges or billowing. Nor should it ride up or pinch you around the back. Above all, it should keep you comfortable. A 2007 study at the University of Portsmouth, England, found that more than 50% of women suffer breast pain when exercising. The study concluded that encapsulated sports bras (those with separate, molded cups) keep pain at bay better than compression sports bras (those that flatten the breasts against the chest wall). Remember, too, that “bras wear out just like shoes and should be replaced every six months,” Vanderoef says.
Start by doing some research, Hughes advises. Women’s fitness and sports magazines often do articles evaluating the fit of various sports clothes. “See what their findings are and what models might work on your body and for the activity you’re doing,” she suggests. “Then try on as many as possible and move around. Jump up and down. See whether they’re comfortable.”
Some brands of workout wear are bound to fit your figure better than others, even if every pair of black bottoms looks the same on the rack. “If you have a high waist, for example, you need pants with a longer inseam that won’t ride up and chafe”, Riale says. The surest way to find a fabulous fit? Try on a lot of brands and styles.
“It’s like picking out the perfect little black dress,” Hughes says. “There are so many cuts and styles. You’ve got to find the one that works for you.”
Shop in stores that specialize in athletic wear, where staff should be knowledgeable enough to point you in the right direction, Riale advises. Expect to spend about $100 on a good pair of slimming Supplex pants; between $50 and $60 for a performance Supplex tank top; and between $35 and $40 for a good sports bra. To make your workout wear last longer, turn clothes inside out when you wash them and dry them on low to preserve color and fit.
“A lot of people don’t see the point of spending money on clothes they’re going to sweat in,” Riale says. “They think they should just grab whatever’s hanging around.” But it pays to put time, effort and money into finding clothes you like and feel good in. It’s tough enough to be surrounded by workout queens, Oglethorpe says. “If you don’t think you look good, you’re going to be even more intimidated.”
Are You Sporting The Right Active Wear?
Clothes may not always make the woman, but they can certainly make or break the workout. The wrong exercise clothes can actually hurt your performance. And we’re not talking about how many guys will try and pick up on you at the gym. It’s more than just looking good – it’s about feeling comfortable and getting the most from your workout. Are you dressing for exercise success?