Friday, July 20, 2012

The Experts Weigh In: Fitness Fashion Faux Pas

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I consider myself a pretty fashionable person in and out of the gym. I pride myself on my attire, looks and overall appearance.

I'm telling you this for the following reasons: First, I am vain (that's right, at least I know it) and while I may not be completely materialistic, you better believe that I like the feel of a good suit. And second, if you are anything like me (and I’m willing to bet most of you are), you judge people the instant you see them. Hey, we all do it, whether we mean to or not.

Some of you altruistic readers will deny this, citing phrases like “you can’t judge a book by its cover” and “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”, not to mention my ultimate favorite “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

That's great (and I’m sure your mother loves you very much) but when’s the last time you bought a car because the engine and transmission had the perfect gear-to-power ratio? OR when’s the last time you approached someone at a bar to ask him or her their GPA, GRE, LSAT and IQ scores? Let’s be real.

You bought that BMW because it “looks” like it goes fast. I hate to tell you, but that car could have the electric motor from your electric shaver (which by the way is running low on batteries) and the heating coil from an easy bake oven (who’s bulb has less power than the potato battery I made in middle school); yet, you'd still buy the car. And at the bar, you were only captivated by what you saw physically. That person may have just finished their first semester online at Devry, but guess what? You approached them.

You get the picture, we judge and make snap decisions based on the smallest nuances people may have… from their shoes to their accents.

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Which brings me to the meat of my article… WHY do people think it is ok to wear just any old thing to the gym? As a single guy I may be biased (I’ve been known to pick up a girl or two while breaking a sweat, so I try to look my best), but beyond the superficial, there are health benefits to gearing up for the gym.

Let’s start with the most important and most commonly seen mistake, especially at OR near the beach and/or by those of you 18 and under – SANDALS. Unless you are heading straight to the lap pool, never under any circumstances walk into a gym wearing sandals… EVER. I’ve seen people drop 45-pound plates just inches from their feet, breaking toes and smashing nails, even in tennis shoes. If this is true, just imagine how nice it will feel in sandals!

Oh and if you are wearing socks with those sandals. Stop reading, we are not friends anymore.

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Moms and dads, this next tip is for you. Those K-Swiss from 1995 need to go. Chances are you are better going barefoot than wearing those things. Old worn-out shoes NOT ONLY make you look like a dufus, but they also provide little to no support for your heels and arches. Lack of support can lead to shin splints, foot numbness, knee and even hip problems down the road. I suggest Asics due to their great price point and durability, but there are plenty of other brands that will do the job just as well.

Next up, shorts and pants…

Guys, no one wants to see your ‘junk’ flopping around on the treadmill. Compression shorts are essential, not only for your comfort but everyone else’s as well. I tend to go with Nike dry fit shorts with netting inside. It keeps the boys AND my dignity in place. Warning: Try not to wear cycling shorts or compression shorts longer than you have to. Once you are safe in the comfort of your own home, take them off!  It gets hot down there, and overheating the boys can cause a reduction in sperm count. So… if you and your lady are hoping for a little bundle of joy… get those support shorts!

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Girls, do NOT wear granny panties under your workout tights or yoga pants. Yeah, we are looking. And those lines are not so hot. I wish I could give more advice on this subject, but my knowledge is limited on women’s workout attire… my apologies. I’ll leave this one to Lauren.

Last, but not least… workout tops. I prefer a light cotton V-neck, while others go for the crew. This is just a matter of preference. But either way, the material should be nice and light. The brand Public Opinion sold at Nordstrom is MY shirt. It’s form-fitting but not so much so that you look like someone off The Jersey Shore. If you want something lighter, go for dri-fit stuff.

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NEVER under any circumstances should you cut the arms off a perfectly good T-shirt. You are more than likely going to look like an idiot. I’ve asked “friends” (who practice this shirt modification technique) why they engage in this behavior. They cite to comfort and breathability. I cite to stupid. If you want a comfortable shirt to work out in, BUY ONE!

Ladies, your options are limitless for tops. Just make sure you have the right support. You don’t want those “girls” bouncing all over the place while running on the treadmill or taking spin class. So make sure you purchase the right size sports bra for your body.

I will also warn against the overly tight shirt and the “sports bra without a shirt” phenomenon. Very few people can pull this off. If you are even questioning this decision, stop there! Don’t do it. The very fact that you are unsure should tell you two things… you don’t think you can pull it off because (A) you can’t or (B) you can but are not confident enough to really pull it off.

I’ll close with this… Confidence is everything at the gym, and in life. You may have the capability to do something, but if you are not confident OR you are insecure, people will be able to tell right away. We are in fact the only mammals that blush. So go out there, get some new gear and wear it proudly!

...And if not, at least fake it 'til you make it!

David Prado is a cycling instructor at Flywheel Atlanta, personal trainer and general fitness enthusiast. On his days off, he can be found on his road bike, biking more miles than you've ever thought possible in one day. He also makes a mean mojito and dances salsa like a pro, thereby making him one of the most eligible bachelors in the Atlanta area. 

1 comment:

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