What’s In Your Workout Closet?

Workout Clothes: Essentials Vs. Fads


If you are one of the few people left who think that trendy workout clothes only belong in the closet or in the gym and not on the sidewalks, in coffee shops or roaming around shopping malls, you may be in for a shock.

Popular brands such as Nike, Under Armour, Lululemon, Gap’s Athleta, Urban Outfitters, and even Costco’s Kirkland brand, are out to extend workout clothing into every nook and cranny of life they can find.

Those keeping an eye on this industry estimate that the U.S. athletic apparel market could grow by 50% in the next six years, hitting $100 billion in annual sales. The denim manufacturers do not like this too much. The trendy look of gym and yoga clothing on the streets is being blamed for a decline in denim sales, which fell 6% in 2013.

This isn’t a fad where the novelty falls off in a year or two. No, this is a trend, growing for more than a decade with widespread popularity continuing to take hold among celebrities, athletes, CrossFit followers, bootcampers, everyday gym rats, at home workout folks, members of Silver Sneakers, and even the two thirds of American that struggles with “overbesity” (overweight and obesity) find comfort in “plus size” workout clothing.

Business casual in many companies has come to mean any variety of Lululemon’s Find Your Bliss Jacket, All You Need crops, Easy Breezy Pant, The Principle Tank, No Limits Tank, Pure Balance Sweater, a scoop back tank, a Vinyasa scarf, and maybe even a pair of Minnetonka Moccasins.

The trend, it seems, is definitely on a brightening trajectory, not just in bright, daring colors, but in technology as well. I’m wearing a pair of workout pants lined with antimicrobial silver and a compression shirt, both quick dry, odor controlling and moisture wicking. I thought about wearing those compression shorts but after a weekend of visiting (ok, eating our way through) the San Diego County Fair’s fried food extravaganza, the workout pants were a better choice. Oh, and a shirt I just ordered is all set to “talk with” my Apple Watch — only thing is I don’t have one of those. Yet. Accepting all gifts, however.

My wife, a personal trainer, loves the Gap Athleta line for everyday fashion and workout comfort, but also pulls out her Nike, Adidas and Under Armour head band when she’s really pumping up a new Les Mills routine. She just told me about a company called Naked Sports Gear that makes sports bras that promise that UV rays will get through to ensure an “all-over” tan.

While we aren’t seeing the legwarmers of the 80’s any longer, yoga pants and leggings have taken over and show up everywhere—literally, including in Houses of Worship, weddings, formal dinners, all with the latest fabric technology, of course.

Trends in Fitness: Sneakers

Does anyone simply buy a pair of “sneakers” anymore without insuring proper fit, and tailored for a specific activity? Road Runner Sports has a special treadmill fitting “Shoe Dog” to ensure that your athletic shoes give you comfort and safety and the perfect fit for your sport—running, walking, CrossFit, cross trainer, trail running, track and field, racing, or hiking. Who knew a pair of sneakers had so much variety? An athletic shoe made for running or aerobics might not give you the support or flexion needed for other sports.

Did you know that for your safety you need to choose the right type: stability, stability plus, performance stability, neutral, neutral plus, performance neutral, motion control, and of course motion control plus. My fave is Asics Kayanos—I left my Nike LunarEclipse in the closet last year. And oh, forget those barefoot sneakers. They are out. Lightweight, padded shoes are in. Speaking of athletic shoe trends, what about those spring loaded workout sneakers or boots? The verdict is these “rebound shoes” can make your joints feel better by softening the blow when your feet hit the ground. Aside from the blisters, the research says they may be worth the try to ease the impact. My guess is that these are a fad, though, and not something that will be here for the long run.

Tips For Picking The Right Workout Clothes

1. Make sure your fabric is comfortable and has the latest technology, synthetic, odor controlling and wicking, to keep sweat away from your body to help keep you cool. While it seems many today are wearing über form fitting, muscle-busting workout clothing, pay attention to your body image and comfort. Loose fitting exercise clothes for both men and women are popular as well, especially if you are just starting out. Stay away from any fabric that is rough or irritating no matter how good it looks.

2. Make sure the workout clothing you are wearing will enhance your performance by being right for your specific activity. The right workout clothes can make all of the difference between an enjoyable, performance boosting workout or an hour of discomfort. Bike riding with long, loose fitting cropped pants may not work. Pilates? Your clothing needs to move with you, not against you, and in a way that doesn’t require you to constantly “shift” your body. Loose fitting, flowing tops won’t keep you covered in many Yoga poses. If you like the way you look in your workout outfit, you’re more likely to want to show up at the gym again tomorrow.

3. Make sure your clothing fits the season. Sure it’s summer, but soon enough the temperature will drop and you’ll need layers, long sleeves, warmer material and a fleece hoodie—notice that cardigans are a thing of the past? Ultraviolet protection is becoming a trend in outdoor workout clothing so check into that for those outdoor spring and summer month workouts.

Dr. Michael Mantell

Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has been providing psychological and coaching services for nearly 5 decades and continues to empower positive change among his global clients to enhance life in every way. He is a highly sought-after healthcare professional coach, an executive and team building consultant, and a longtime specialist in cognitive behavioral coaching.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avoid fabrics that don’t breathe. Never wear clothing made out of rubber-based or plastic-based materials, which keep sweat from evaporating and keep your body temperature too high during a workout.

  2. Sneakers are definitely in trend, You can see people keen on buying the latest Nike or the Asics. I also own a Nike free flyknit its very very comfortable and provides great support.

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