I balk at spending much money on an outfit I only intend to wear for a single sweaty hour at a time. But since walking into a new exercise class where everyone else seems to know the ropes can be intimidating, finding well-fitting, comfortable and flattering gym gear is the biggest favour you can do yourself. Not to mention that seeing it hanging in the wardrobe may be the motivation you need to sacrifice that extra hour in bed.
All Fenix leggings, £85, MyGymWardrobe; Tory Sport top, £110, Net-A-Porter; Adidas Originals trainers, £70, Net-A-Porter
I have good weeks (or months) and bad, but during the good, I like to mix exercise classes so that I don’t get bored, or lose momentum on my own. I use a London-based app called ClassPass to access specialised classes at hundreds of different studios for a flat fee. Nationally, MoveGB offers a similar concept on a larger scale, or you can buy one-time passes at PayAsUGym.com. If you do intend to do a range of exercises and classes, finding kit that will mostly work across everything is the least expensive option.
The beauty essentials to have in your gym bag
Aesthetically, I’d recommend keeping it as simple as possible. Stick to a basic palette when shopping – navy and red, or black and white – to avoid fuss in the morning. I prefer to get the gym out of the way first thing, and the last thing I want to do pre-6am is try to coordinate colours. Dark shades are flattering, and hide sweat well (on that note, avoid grey marl at all costs). They are also a sage choice if you plan on travelling to or from the gym in them. I usually travel to the gym wearing Lycra with my normal coat and shoes, and while black leggings don’t look too bad under a leopard-print coat or tucked into silver ankle boots, a neon-splashed pair certainly does. Look for an understated gym bag for the same reason.
Vest with in-built support, £50, Sweaty Betty; The Upside sports bra, £79, MatchesFashion
If dark shades are too harsh against your skin (especially without make-up), try pale pink – it has a brightening effect when worn next to the face. Prints can stretch unflatteringly when you move, especially at the cheaper end of the spectrum, so you may need to spend a little more if you’re keen on print – MyGymWardrobe.com has some pretty printed options, or try Perfect Moment for graphic prints in bold colours.
If you have a large bust, then take the time to try on different sports bras. Nike’s high-intensity running bra saw me through my first 10k, and Marks & Spencer’s bra fastening style is a godsend – attempting to pull a Lycra tube over your head while sweaty is a workout in itself. If you don’t need as much support, The Upside has very pretty options. Lighter options offer enough support for a low intensity class, and make breathing exercises easier – layer under a vest with built-in support (Sweaty Betty do good ones) for more security.
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Jumpsuit, £170, Vaara
Even if you’ve got nothing to hold in, high-waisted leggings are comfortable and versatile. Lululemon do the best, in my opinion. You might recoil from wearing a jumpsuit, and so did I at first. I tried this Vaara one-piece (arriving this week), though, and the wide straps stop it from moving around too much – and not having to pull leggings up or my vest down in between yoga poses lets me concentrate. For the outdoors, Patagonia’s fabric technology is second to none, as is its social conscience.