by Matt Weik
Everyone wants to be fashionable. Sometimes people create their own style instead of following trends—and that’s perfectly fine. Days of the old man sweatpants and beat up t-shirt are gone. We are in an era where fitness meets fashion. With brands popping up all over, it’s tough to decide who you want to support. Do you go with the tried and true, or do you go with a smaller up and coming brand to suit your apparel needs?
Let’s face it, when you go to a gym in your area it’s common to see women walking around as if they were heading out for a night on the town. They have their makeup done, their hair looks perfect, nails are on point—it makes you wonder if they are actually working out considering they look so good. Guys, you’re no different! Many of you are wearing the apparel we are about to talk about, you spray on some of your favorite cologne, lace up those fly new kicks – you’re dressed to impress while getting your swole on.
Old School Apparel
If you’ve been around long enough, you were used to seeing the parachute workout pants that made you look like you were in a MC Hammer music video. In fact, a guy I once worked with was an owner of a very well-known workout apparel company that made much of that kind of apparel back in the day. He has since moved on and sold off the business (which was probably for the best) due to the market drying up back then and the apparel market being so aggressive.
Some people to this day still go to the gym wearing an old pair of sweatpants and t-shirt, but many are now going for the newer breathable fabrics that allow for greater mobility and better moisture-wicking capabilities to keep the wearer cool (or warm) and dry. Honestly, it truly doesn’t matter what you wear to the gym in my opinion as long as you’re going—just don’t roll up in your birthday suit.
But let’s face it, for the majority of people out there, can you get away with wearing a simple pair of sweat pants or shorts, a shirt or sweatshirt, and some type of walking, running, or cross-training shoes to the gym? Absolutely. Those will work just fine for most. But, if you’re style of training involves greater range of motion, quick aerobic or callisthenic movements, or exercises that baggy clothes could hinder the movements on, it might be time for an upgrade. I’m not recommending a new full workout wardrobe, but a few key new pieces such as a couple pairs of bottoms or shorts along with some tops could serve you well—especially if you’re the type of person who is dripping sweat throughout your workout. With the new technology today, you’ll feel more comfortable in the fabrics being used these days compared to the heavier materials used previously.
Out with the old and in with the new?
It seemed like back in the day, brands represented specific sports. For instance, when you saw the name Nike, you associated that with basketball. When you saw the name Umbro or Adidas you instantly thought about soccer. When you saw the name Wilson, you thought about tennis. Then as time passed, the brands expanded into different sports and athletics and went more mainstream as actual fitness lifestyle brands. Nike branched out into just about every sport under the sun and did amazing in each piece of the market.
Then came along Under Armour and turned the industry on its head. This new brand was performance driven and targeted athletes. They signed on some big-name athletes. Tom Brady, Stephen Curry, Bryce Harper, Jordan Spieth, Lindsey Vonn and even celebrities like Dwayne Johnson came aboard to represent the brand and it exploded with their Heat Gear and Cold Gear lines. Each line had a loose fit as well as a compression fit. It was fresh and exciting and kids and adults alike jumped on the bandwagon and jumped ship from their previous go-to brands to start wearing Under Armour. The “Just Do It” customers were slowly transitioning over to the “Protect This House” brand—some, not all.
Now, once again came along some new blood in the space with the likes of Gymshark, Alphalete Athletics, Live Fit (LVFT), Aesthetic Revolution, as well as others. These dedicated lifestyle fitness brands are putting out clothing that not only can you wear in the gym to look stylish, but also around town without looking like a bum. Each piece of clothing has a tailored fit to match the athletic silhouette without being big and bulky with a bunch of extra fabric. These brands are really fine-tuning their clothing to accentuate the body of someone who maintains a healthy and active lifestyle. They allow the wearer to show off their slim waistline, their wide back and shoulders, massive chest and legs, and peaking biceps without being in that awkward stage of do you get a size that is tight or do you go up on size and cover up what you’ve worked hard for in the gym.
This isn’t to say that brands like Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour aren’t coming out with the same lifestyle fitness brand of apparel that can be worn anytime and still be fashionable, but these smaller brands are truly honing in on the athletic physiques out there rather than still focusing on making clothes that the “not so fit” could wear. And to be honest, I like where they are going with their brands. While each is fairly similar to the others in the space, all of these lifestyle fitness brands try to change their look, fabric, fitting, and style to keep their launches fresh and new without looking like everyone else out there.
Overall, do I recommend one of the above newer brands over the other? Nope. Heck, I even still wear Nike and Under Armour clothing for both workouts and around town. Then again, I’m not one who really cares what they look like when out and about or feels like they are extremely fashionable—I’m not out to impress anyone. I’m just a writer in the fitness industry and 99% of the people I encounter are not part of the fitness industry where I live. So, in essence, I could walk around in overalls and a straw hat and no one would bat an eye—well, maybe some of the kids since they are into fashion these days. Do I own and wear athletic fitting clothing from brands other than Nike or Under Armour? Sure. But I wear them more so for the performance side of things and not for the “look” of them.
It comes down to your need to feel comfortable in what you are wearing. For me, this is most important when I’m working out. I don’t want to have to think about fabric bunching up while doing a movement or baggy clothing flapping around while doing cardio. That’s where a lot of these companies with fitted/tailored apparel come in. Fitted t-shirts, joggers or fitted workout pants, etc. Find something that you feel good in and that serves the purpose in which you bought it. You don’t need to be the hippest person in the gym, but make sure what you’re wearing is functional and comfortable.
If you’re hitting your goals and you want to treat yourself to some high-end lifestyle fitness products, by all means go for it. This health and fitness journey is meant to be fun yet frustrating. It’s a mental game of focus and consistency. I wish you all the best and if you have a brand of apparel that you love, let me know what it is. I’m always interested in trying new lines of clothing.