There comes a time in every fit-girl’s life when they must say good bye to those beloved sneakers from that 50km marathon, that vintage Adidas tee worn every day for a month, or that perfect gym g-string. And although this is a harsh reality, when your five-year-old tights leave you revealing a little too much during the downward dog, the time has come to overhaul your undoubtedly overflowing workout wardrobe.
While some days spent in activewear don’t actually result in a workout (“did I do that again?”), for the most part, it is crucial that our exercise clothes are supportive and help us to perform at our peak.
So in the spirit of the season, we’ve asked our fitness experts for the low down on the life span of our favourite activewear pieces – what to look for and when to replace them – in order to bring you our Sporteluxe guide to spring-cleaning your workout wardrobe.
Sporteluxe guide to spring cleaning your workout wardrobe
Expert: Dr Kate Wood, chiropractor, Health Space
Q: Why is it important to wear a good pair of exercise shoes?
“Your feet are the foundation of the spine. Any problems with your feet can cause problems anywhere in the body, not just in the feet and legs. It is super important that you have your exercise shoes professionally fitted to ensure your feet are working optimally, so you not only feel great but have less chance of injury and improve your performance!”
“Every person is different and shoe brands are forever changing their shoe styles so don’t think once you have found the shoe that works for you that the same brand will suit you next time! Get them fitted every time (or buy multiple pairs of the same shoe at the time you have it fitted).”
Q: How often should one buy new exercise shoes?
“This will be different for everyone depending on factors like your weight, running biomechanics, how often you exercise, how far and how fast you run, time off between exercise, type of shoe you are wearing and what surfaces you are exercising on. Most people will need a new pair of exercise shoes every 500-1000km. I would personally rather buy a new pair of shoes 100km to early than 100km too late, as old and poorly fitted footwear greatly increases your chance of injury.”
Q: What signs can one look for that their shoes need replacing?
“Months and distance aside there are some tell tale signs that your shoes need replacing. Firstly listen to your body. If you have any little niggles then this could indicate that your footwear is not giving you the support you need. Other indications include worn tread, holes, instability in the shoes such as if you can bend the shoe backwards easily or it twists too far (new and properly fitted shoes are much stiffer).”
“If you don’t feel like there is much cushioning or ‘bounce’ then chances are the shoes are on the way out. A good way to test this is try a new pair of shoes on and see how different they feel, or put one hand in the shoe and the other on the tread and see how much give there is. If your fingers can touch each other or its not spongy then it’s time for a new pair!”
2. SPORTS BRA
Expert: Kate Wheeler, senior designer, Bonds bras
If you find your ‘girls’ are bouncing around like a Baywatch babe on the treadmill, say adios to your sports bra before you do some serious damage – to you or your innocent treadmill neighbour.
Q: Why is it important for a woman to wear a good sports bra?
“Because there are no muscles in your boobs, things don’t just snap back into place once they stretch out of shape. Research has shown us that an unsupported B-cup breast can bounce up to 8cm, and an unsupported DD cup can bounce up to 19cm. This movement can lead to permanent breast ligament damage and breast tissue sagging. In other words, over time if you are not supported by a good sports bra when you exercise, your girls will be at your ankles!”
Q: What are some key factors that women should look for in a good sports bra?
“When you try on a sports bra, jump up and down a bit in the fitting room, and check how much movement is going on up top. The cup should cover your whole breast. A racer back design is great for extra support, and if the straps cross over at the back, you can expect less bounce when you exercise. Wider straps are not only fashionable, they evenly disperse the weight across the shoulder and offer a greater level of support.”
Q: How often should women buy new sports bras?
“It depends how often you work out and wash your bras. Perspiration will break down the stretchy fabric in the back as well as the shoulder straps over time, so it’s important to wash your bra after every workout. Give your everyday bras a day or twos rest between wears.”
Q: What’s the best way of finding a bra that fits you perfectly?
“If you can’t get a professional fitting, there are a few easy tips to help you find a bra that fits you perfectly…
- Fasten the back on the middle hook. The back should feel comfortable and sit horizontally around you (not ride up your back).
- The straps will need to be adjusted to suit your height, and not so tight that they lift the bra off your chest.
- The cup should not cut in to your breast or gape and wrinkle. Give yourself the T-shirt test, and turn side on to check you have a smooth line and no lumps or bumps.”
Expert: Noa Ries, founder and designer, Vie Active
The importance of exercise tops is often overlooked when it comes to coordinating your activewear ensemble but choosing the right top is crucial for an optimal sweat session.
Q: Why is it important to wear a good top?
“Depending on the type of workout you are doing and also what you plan to do post-workout, a good top is essential. If you don’t have time for a post-workout shower, make sure your top is made from an anti-microbial, odour resistant, quick-drying fabric.”
Q: What are some key factors that women should look for in a good exercise top?
“Your top should be loosely fitting so that it glides over (not clings to) any lumps and bumps, flat seamed so that you don’t chafe the second you start sweating and also conceals any parts of your body that you’re still working on and highlights the areas you love. Personally I love to highlight the shoulders, clavicles and decolletage – this is every woman’s most flattering area.”
Q: How often should women buy new exercise tops?
“This depends on the quality of fabric. Before I launched Vie Active, I was finding that I was throwing out my workout tops every few weeks as they had an embedded stink in them. I’ve now had some of my Vie Active tops for over two years.”
Q: How can we make our exercise tops longer-lasting?
“Making sure you are buying the right fabrics is essential. Also wash your workout clothes in a woolwash and hang to dry. Many athletic company’s place a treatment on their fabric to make it technical (quick drying etc) but this is only topical so it will wear off after about 5-10 washes. You can prolong this by air drying your workout clothes.”
Expert: Jodie Gear, General Manager of merchandising AU/NZ, lululemon athletic
Tights got their name for a reason. As a simple rule of thumb, if your tights are no longer tight, bid them adieu.
Q: Why is it important to wear a good pair of exercise tights?
“At lululemon we believe that true performance comes from your ability to tap into your athletic potential. Choosing the right pants is key to reaching your potential, and that ultimate moment presence and aliveness in your workout.”
“We feel that sensory feedback is an intrinsic motivator to keep you going and push yourself to get the most out of your training. There’s no one sensory experience to suit all of your training needs which is why we’ve developed a spectrum based on engineered sensation. Now our guests can choose how you want to feel to get the full benefit of your workout.”
Q: What are some key factors that women should look for in a good pair of tights?
“The first questions to ask is ‘how do you want to feel?’. From there, function, fit, fabric, features and of course fun are the other factors to consider.
The foundation of our design process is focused on these six Fs:
- feel – think about how you feel before, during and after your workout
- function – get the garment designed for your specific training needs – i.e. hot yoga vs marathon running
- fit – find the right fit for you, taking into consideration things like level of coverage, leg length and waist rise
- fabric – choose fabric based on how it feels and performs looking for things like sweat wicking capability, four way stretch and breathability
- features – look for great technical features like mesh, hidden pockets and seamless construction
- fun – inspire yourself to get moving with a fun print or colour”
Q: How often should women buy new exercise tights?
“We design all our apparel to last five years, and we want you to have the freedom to treat your clothes with the same tough love you give your workouts.”
Q: What are some tips and tricks for making tights longer-lasting?
“Best practice is to machine wash your tights in cold water and either tumble dry on low, or better yet hang them to dry to extend the life of your gear.”
So now you’ve got your expert tips, pop on some tunes and get sorting! The only way to make space for the new is to get rid of the old so be ruthless and keep those fresh Nike trainers in mind.