Updated: Feb 7
This is a question frequently asked by a parent as a child walks out the front door headed to a friends house or by a spouse whose significant other is leaving for work because they somehow forgot it's Saturday. But if you look closely, you will notice that travel is not the primary focus of discussion this week. The "wear" to which I am referring here is, as promised, the finale in my latest series about fitness apparel. While I'm not actually asking you to disclose your current location, I am going to go out on a limb here and assume I already know. Since most of you, my loyal readers, are in some form active individuals or you wouldn't be reading this, I can guess you're probably headed at some point during the day to the gym or local park for a butt kicking workout. Because current rules in most businesses don't allow access to those who are naked, I highly recommend getting dressed first which leads to the focal point of this blog. Remember in my last post I mentioned that when we wake up in the morning we have choices...one of those was what to wear. No I won't be telling you what outfit to pick because that is for you to decide (and since I'm not a professional fashion designer, that's definitely best for all involved parties), but instead hoping to enlighten you a bit about the different kinds of fitness apparel on the market today and the pros and cons of each. There might also be a few surprises along the way so who's ready to see "wear" things go from here. Sorry, just had to say that!! Let me start by stating that I am in no way, shape or form endorsing or promoting any particular brand so I will just cover the basics based on the type of product available. Also understand I am not a fashion expert so cannot recommend a specific style according to individual body components. Now that that's out of the way, "wear" were we... When you think of fitness apparel, what exactly comes to mind...trendy workout pants with matching sports bra...tank top and basketball shorts...compression sets...the first thing you pull out of the dryer? With so many different personalities, you will see everything under the sun when it comes to being comfortable during an exercise session. Any of these will work as long as they allow for movement. But the term encompasses so much more than that as you will discover so keep reading! Workout pants can be any number of things from tight fitting knee length items to long, baggy sweats. Simply put, these are articles of various lengths and styles which are used when you workout. Like any piece of clothing, you want to be comfortable during exercise so choose ones that permit a wide range of movement in different planes. Fabric such as cotton is great because it's lightweight as well as providing warmth in the colder months. Lots of times you will find the cost of this option to be cheaper than other styles. One downside is unless you layer you won't be able to remove it during your workout should you become too hot. If loose sweat pants are your choice for the day, make sure they're not so huge that they get caught in a machine or so long you trip and fall over the bottom edge. Tank tops and basketball type shorts work well because they are specifically designed for workouts. Many elite athletes both practice and compete in this style due to allowing for a wide range of activities (basketball and soccer, for example). Most often you will see these in a polyester blend material. One plus side here is occasionally they're reversible so you'll get two different outfits from one pair of shorts. A couple drawbacks however, are that being made from this type of material, they retain sweat a bit more due to lack of breathability. They may not be as lightweight as other choices which means by having more fabric, they could possibly be slightly more expensive than their cotton counterparts. Compression sets are usually lycra or spandex and designed to fit snugly. If you are the kind of person that just can't get warm, these are for you. Lycra retains heat better than both of what is discussed above so cold joints and muscles benefit from wearing this type of gear. Although, like the basketball shorts, the skin doesn't get a chance to breathe so selecting this possibility might be too warm for some people. Another disadvantage is that they show every curve (good or bad) so if you are self conscious about your appearance, I recommend picking something else or, if your workout takes you outdoors, putting them underneath a pair of shorts, sweats or t-shirt. Do NOT sleep in compression pants, shirts, shorts, or socks as they can potentially alter blood pressure and cause blood clots in the legs, cramps, or restless leg syndrome. If you get cold at night grab an extra blanket instead. Now let's go back a few paragraphs to where I said fitness apparel is a bit more than the clothes you put on your body. Any guesses as to what other things fall into this fairly broad term? Any of you who said fitness trackers and heart rate monitors would be correct. While these usually aren't cute or match the rest of the outfit, they help us feel good during exercise and, just as the fashionable selections in the previous sections, are indeed worn around or on the body. By giving us vital information, these nifty pieces of equipment can enhance workout sessions. Going back to last weeks article (and earlier in this one), you now have another decision to make besides what to eat for breakfast, talk about at the AM meeting and what to wear. So what'll it be... During a one hour television show, approximately twenty (20) minutes of commercials will air. Networks show a wide variety of products available for the consumer to buy. All the latest gadgets and gizmos to entertain people of all ages are marketed to ensure we never get bored. Everything from pet food to vitamins to smart technology awaits. We live in an era where health has become seemingly more important than ever before. But with this also comes confusion and misinformation guiding us to believe a certain product will forever change our lives. With this being said, how do we know what is accurate and what's not? Honestly, we don't. But the more research we do before buying anything, the more satisfying the experience becomes. It's no different when it comes to purchasing big ticket items such as fitness trackers. Smart watches that pair with an app on a smart phone or sync with just about any other device you own and heart monitors worn around the chest that constantly provide information on our progress are all the rage today as Americans strive to get and stay fit. Unless we read Consumer Reports, do we really understand what we are buying? Is one brand really better than another? Maybe so, but what it really comes down to is personal preference. What I am going to try to explain is what they do along with benefits and risks of what has turned into a retailers dream come true. As far as brand is concerned, all are equal. The biggest difference is that of price. Typically, the more features an item has, the more lucrative it is and, in turn, the price tag is higher. A little is good, but more is better, right? Not necessarily if you don't use everything it offers you. A low end, very basic fitness tracker can give you what you need just as well as a high end sophisticated one if all you're looking for is heart rate or step count at any given time. However, those more tech savvy who need it to answer phone calls and retrieve messages, or information about calorie burn, sleep patterns, training zone guidance, and weather reports (yes they do that too), a deluxe version may be more appropriate. For the most part, they all perform the same way. Generally, they work off a Global Positioning System (GPS) to track your location. In a nutshell, signals get sent back and forth between satellites when you move to determine the distance traveled. They are pre programmed with general guidelines so that the device can calculate the number of steps taken in a certain amount of time and space. Assumptions of this data are made based on an average stature. Information can then be retrieved when you scroll through whatever options the apparel has. Because there is really no such thing as average, the programmed statistics in each device are only a range. A 6ft tall male has substantially longer legs than does a 5'5" female so their stride lengths would be considerably different as would their step count. Yet a fitness tracker provides the user with statistics that are a rough estimate rather than specific to each individual, so for those of you who use one, the next time you get up, get out and get moving, set distance as a goal rather than steps for the most accuracy. There you have it my friends, the last part of my series on fitness apparel. Hopefully using what I have presented, your next workout will have you looking and feeling good. "Wear" will your new look take you? What is your favorite piece of fitness apparel and why?