What to wear to the gym

Sara Nankivell Sara Nankivell Senior Programme Manager
If you're not a confident or regular gym-goer, deciding what to wear can be one of the hardest choices. Here's our demystifier to explain what's best to wear to the gym.

1. You can wear (almost) anything to the gym

You don’t have to have special clothing to go to the gym (shocker!). A pair of leggings and an old band t-shirt will be just fine.

But comfort is the main reason you should take time to consider your gym wardrobe. Natural fabrics like cotton are ok but if you sweat excessively they will become heavy and moist. High wicking fabrics (that draw moisture away from your body) such as bamboo or nylon will prevent skin breakouts and keep you comfortable while you work out.

Another good investment is a pair of lightweight trainers. Trainers are designed to support the arch of your foot and cushion impact. Without this cushion, you’re more at risk of injury. Needless to say wearing heels or brogues in the gym is more likely to damage your health than make you fitter.

2. Lycra is your friend

Lycra is many people’s idea of a nightmare. Skin-tight clothing shows off your figure, and some of us aren’t all that happy about it. But baggy clothing in the gym can be a hazard, with lots of obstacles to get caught on.

Lycra has some major benefits other than health and safety: it sucks you in – and if you buy some good thick Lycra it will smooth out any unwanted bumps too.

Lycra is the material of choice for most gym clothing providers for a reason – it has great wicking, which means it keeps your skin dry while you work out. So learn to love Lycra (and your body) because they’re fabulous!

3. Sports bras will help tame your boobs and avoid post-gym pain

Sports bras are not only more comfortable than your average bra (when wearing the right size), they also help you to dodge the kind of pain that occurs when you bounce repeatedly on the apparatus. And because they protect the ligaments and tissues in your chest from stretching while you work out, they can prevent unwanted drooping or injuries. By holding your boobs in place while you work out a sports bra will also help you avoid any embarrassing pop-out moments and make your session more bearable.

4. Clothes don’t boost your performance, practice does

Trainers that have a ‘natural-motion outsole’, leggings with ‘ergonomic seams’ - clothing manufacturers make a lot of claims about how their kit can improve your performance. In truth, clothing designed specifically for workouts will usually provide a more comfortable experience, but the benefits beyond that are slim to none.

If you’re looking to improve your performance in the gym, speak to a Personal Trainer who can give you advice about the correct techniques, don’t spend lots of money on fancy clothing.

Last updated Wednesday 2 March 2016

First published on Monday 14 December 2015