Tag Archives: silver icing

Sweat in style: The basics of activewear

2 May

The view from my hike last summer at St. Mark’s Summit near Vancouver.

With the spring weather finally kicking in, it’s time to start shedding those heavy layers of clothes and absorb some much needed vitamin D. For most, the warmer temperature means ramping up fitness goals to get the body summer-ready or prepare for marathons. Whatever your objective, there’s nothing like a bright new gym outfit to inspire you to stick to a workout plan.

High-tech textiles

One of the key factors when looking for activewear is fabric. Read the tags to see what material the item is predominantly made out of and whether it will suit the type of exercise you’ll be doing. For moderate activity where you’re less likely to sweat, such as hatha yoga, try activewear made with a combination of spandex (or Lycra) and other breathable fibres. Spandex is durable and ideal for workouts dependant on flexibility. Keep in mind that although cotton is breathable and popular, it also loses its shape easily and absorbs perspiration, making the garment feel heavier at the end of a workout.

Great for layering or wearing alone, this Sugoi tank works for any exercise.

For high-impact, sweat-inducing activities such as running, hiking the Grouse Grind or hot yoga, look for moisture wicking fabrics. These are designed to move perspiration away from the skin and through the fabric where it can be evaporated quickly, leaving you dry and cooler in body temperature. There are a variety of synthetic, moisture wicking fabrics, with some of the major names being Coolmax, made from polyester fibres, and Supplex, made from nylon. Also, bigger companies carry products made with their own moisture wicking fabrics — Nike has Dri-FIT and Adidas uses Climalite — so check the labels to see if the item is made with the performance fabric you need to stay comfortably dry.

Stay dry in your cardio classes with Nike’s moisture wicking shorts.

Go green

If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly alternative, there are a lot of green options as well that don’t just cater towards yoga tops and pants. Many of them are locally-based, such as brands Tonic, Silver Icing and Public Myth, to name a few. All three use bamboo jersey in their designs and two (Tonic and Public Myth) even do their manufacturing locally. A good eco-friendly fabric to look for when shopping for gym clothes is Tencel — it’s soft, breathable and absorbent, so it’ll keep you dry in the sweatiest of workouts. Tencel, which also goes by the name Lyocell, is durable yet biodegradable.

Flexible fit

The other factor to consider is fit. Make sure the activewear you throw on is supportive, comfortable and allows for plenty of movement. The last thing you’d want is to be distracted by your clothing when you should be focusing on downward dog. Avoid loose, long pants in cycling or running, where it can get caught up in pedals or under the heels. It’s also a good idea to dress in layers for any outdoor activity. An easily removable zip-up jacket is a must have; bonus points if it includes enough pockets to stash your iPod, keys and other necessities.

This lululemon zip-up in a cheery orange is perfect for those early morning runs.

Keep in mind the conditions and alter your activewear accordingly. The weather is fickle even in late spring, so look into gear with water repellant properties if you exercise outside often. Moisture wicking fabrics are great for both the heat and the cold. Don’t forget about your accessories either: a cap for the rain or sun, a watch for time trials, reflective details for those jogging or biking at night and, most importantly, shoes with ample support.

From ASOS, a pastel blue Timex watch to time your laps.

A majority of stores now carry activewear lines so gym gear is readily available at all price points. And with the athletic look in demand on the runways this season, you’ll be looking on trend as you work toward your fitness goals.

[Article first appeared in the April 18 issue of Richmond Review.]

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