The festive season is over. Family, food and all that summer holiday fun is done for another year. But trudging back to work feels the saddest. Until you glance down and notice the financial fat from your wallet – pre-Christmas, that is – has somehow found its disgusting way to your waistline. Gym time?
One of the most quick-to-die new year’s resolutions is getting fit. With style often on the brain, we’ve realised motivation comes from looking good and feeling great. Which is why work out gear should be equally attractive and efficient; a sartorial kick in the butt so by the end of 2016 you’ve actually put in some gym time – and looked stylish in the process.
The following five must-have workout essentials will get you started in the new year. But the rest is up to you. Get going, Commando.
As any trainer expert will tell you: not all sneakers are created equal. Gym junkies – á la bulky and broad shouldered – need flat soled sneakers – such as the Adidas Powerlift – for balance when performing monster squats or shoulder pressing the equivalent of a large child. For show-pony weight-lifters (you know, the ones who skip leg day) Stan Smiths or Converse Chucks will suffice, giving you flat-foot support and some much needed fashion cred in and out of the gym scene.
Runners – especially long distance joggers – should get a professional assessment before shopping for sneakers. These people analyse the natural arch of your foot and get you to mimic your foot-to-pavement contact (foot strike) as the pound the pavement. Selecting a sneaker with cushioned-soles and a mesh upper for breathability is essential. Then, choose your colourway: monochrome with a flash of fluoro for something chic or an all-over neon hue for a statement. Popular sneakers include Saucony Kinvara, Nike Free Run, Adidas Ultra Boost and Asics Gels.
While we’ve already covered the practical and stylish elements of compression apparel, tights in particular need a special mention. Not only do compression tights secure the fragile man-things (and hide the unsightly which does happen with billowy, mid-thigh shorts), there are circulation benefits associated with the high-tech gear.
Wearing compression legging during and after a workout reduces post-exercise soreness. And it helps with chaffing. There are a plethora of active and fashion brands releasing standard black versions as well as hyper colours and patterns for the peacock exerciser. Depending on how often and intense your exercise sessions are well determine how techy your tights should be. Brand must-haves include Champion, 2XU, Under Armour and the new range from Lululemon.
The Short Of It
We’re privy to some killer casual shorts as men; unleashed by some of the best old and new designers of the season. Active wear is more relaxed, but the same short rules apply for men: keep to 5-7inch length (or mid-thigh as a safe bet for the larger gent) and snug on the waist but not too slim on the thigh – to allow for movement. Fabric tends to be soft polyester and lightweight with manufactured breathability. Shorts should have bacteria fighting properties to prevent odour too.
Pockets? It’s a personal choice. Do you really need your phone during exercise? There may be too much temptation to check Instagram instead of getting into that next super set. If you need to carry keys on an outdoor run, opt for a short with a built-in, small pocket at the back under your waistband.
Speaking of built-in, mesh underwear that lines the seat of the short is a must-have – unless your wearing compression tights or opt for shorts with built-in tights. Now, there’s an idea. Superior brands include Iffley Road, Nike and H&M for more affordable fashion attire.
Top It Off
A major piece of the athletic apparel puzzle is the top. Shirt, tank or long sleeve top, the upper half should be a slim-fit (nothing longline here) so not to impede the runner’s speed and or the lifter’s streamline weight movements.
Shirts fabrics range from cotton jersey for softness to polyester-made mesh which is super lightweight. All should boast moisture wicking capabilities to do away sweat during exercise. And most quality shirt makers have incorporated bonded seams to impede chaffing or skin irritation on the torso.
If you’ve opted for a neutral and dark short, go for a bright coloured shirt – short or long sleeve. It helps with visibility when outdoors so cars don’t knock you down. A style pointer? No deep-Vs or racer back singlets, please. Shop a top from these cool brands – Soar Running, 2XU and The North Face – and you’ll be on game.
Not Just A Jacket
Many gents forget the crucial jacket when exercising. If you plan on jogging outdoors when the weather’s dull, you’ll be needing a jacket that is weatherproof. Made from lightweight, technology-packed fabrics which act as a water and wind resistant shell – these cool camouflage or plain coloured coats keep you covered, letting you focus on the run: “inhale-exhale, one-two-three-four.”
Funnel-neck varieties are great for complete torso-to-neck coverage and a zip-through model allows for openness when things heat up or closed when there’s a morning chill. Look for designs with mesh panels in the armpits to increase air circulation and reflector strips for increased visibility.
Gym goers, an active jacket is essential for braving the outdoors, post-workout. As soon as you leave the regulated temperature of the gym and begin to cool down, keeping covered up en route to the car or train is essential, especially in winter. Catching a chill may offset your regime for the rest of the week.
The key things to consider when shopping for work out gear is the fit (streamline and practical for movement) and the fabric (anti-odour and tear, sweat-wicking and lightweight).
Then, pick your aesthetic: monochrome and minimal for something very fashion forward that gets the job done or bright and bold, so people can see you flashing past like a lightning bolt on your way to athletic greatness.
Preparation is key, so get shopping and get moving.