Don’t buy gym clothes without reading this

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The latest fitness gear may take your workouts to the next level — but will it clean out your wallet, too? Learn which fitness fads are worth following and which are not worth the money. Once you’ve got that down, try our tips to get the best bang for your buck while outfitting your gym bag.

Dress the part

The clothes you wear are more than just window dressing. They may also shape how you think and act — helping you step into the role you’ve dressed for, suggests research published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

“It’s all about the symbolic meaning that you associate with a particular item of clothing,” explains study author, Hajo Adam, in an article published by The Atlantic. His team focused on the effects of wearing lab coats, not sneakers. But Adam speculates: “I think it would make sense that when you wear athletic clothing, you become more active and more likely to go to the gym and work out.”

Proper workout wear may also help you stay safe and comfortable. It can give you the room you need to flex your muscles. It can cushion your steps, support your joints, and ward off inclement weather.

But that doesn’t mean you should break the bank on brand-name yoga pants or high-tech T-shirts. Many budget-friendly alternatives will do the trick.


When planning your workout budget, start from the ground up. Your shoes can make or break your fitness routine. Proper arch and ankle support is key. Worn-out sneakers and too-tight trainers just won’t do.

Online shopping may be convenient, but it’s not great for buying shoes. You need to try on your workout shoes before you purchase them. Head to a local fitness store—and ask an experienced shoe fitter to help you find the right pair, suggests the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine.

Always buy the right type of shoes for your routine. Our feet move in different ways during different activities — which calls for different types of footwear. Training shoes (or “cross trainers”) work well for a variety of exercises. But if you take part in a particular activity two or more times per week, you should buy sport-specific shoes for it, advises the AAPSM.

Some shoes offer more control, while others give freer range of motion. For example, feet shift from side to side a lot while playing basketball, tennis, and other sports. So shoes with good lateral (side-to-side) support are key. In contrast, feet move sideways less often while running. So running shoes tend to be less laterally supportive but have thicker heels to withstand high-impact forces.

Shoes are not the place to skimp. Buy the right type and best-fitting footwear you can afford. And replace them regularly to give your feet the support they need.


Don’t let chafing, bunching, or unwanted bouncing get you down. Buy supportive underwear that fits well for a comfortable workout. If you have spare change to spend, look for undies made from microfiber fabrics. They may help improve airflow, while wicking sweat away from your nether regions.

Among men, boxer briefs are a popular choice. They offer the coverage of boxers with the support of briefs. Some even come with built-in protective cups.

For women, a good-fitting sports bra is important. Ask a fitter at your local lingerie shop to measure your band and cup size. For maximum support, buy a bra with cups that cover both breasts entirely. For more control, opt for wide shoulder straps or a racer back rather than skinny spaghetti straps.

Tops and bottoms

Gone are the days when everyone wore baggy t-shirts and sweatpants to the gym. Today many people wear tightly fitted tops and bottoms — often with high-tech fabrics and strategically stitched seams, designed to shape and support.

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When it comes to skintight clothing, compression garments may be the cream of the crop. They provide much more support than your average pair of stretch pants. And they are rumored to help boost athletic performance and reduce muscle swelling and pain.

Research on the purported benefits of compression garments is limited. However, some studies suggest they may indeed provide perks for performance and post-workout recovery, report scientists in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance.

Unfortunately, compression clothing can also be pricey. Unless you’re training at a high level, it may not be worth the strain on your purse strings. Prioritize supportive shoes and undergarments over high-tech tops and pants. An old T-shirt and simple pair of shorts or stretch pants is often all you need.


Are you planning to train or compete in extreme weather conditions? If not, you may be able to cut costs on outerwear. It’s the furthest layer from your body—and often the first to be shed when you pump up the heat. So rest contented with your world-weary windbreaker and mismatched gloves.

Of course, good quality outerwear is essential for some sports and activities. You don’t want to be caught in the cold while skiing, snowshoeing, or enjoying other winter adventures. Look for jackets, pants, and accessories that keep the elements out while allowing your skin to breathe.

Cheap workout clothes: strategies for surefire savings

Follow these thrifty tips from SparkPeople to spend even less:

  • Scour end-of-season sales. Check clearance racks. And keep your eyes open for discounted outlet stores.
  • Skip the brand-name workout wear. Opt for generic labels and discount department store wares instead.
  • If you covet something in store that costs too much, check online. With a little cyber-sleuthing, you may be able to score sweet savings.
  • Look for gently used items at your local gear exchange or second-hand clothing shops. Online auction sites are another good bet.
  • Buy workout clothes that can double as leisurewear. These days, yoga pants are almost as common in grocery stores as in fitness studios.


Find out if you're eligible for SilverSneakers, the fitness benefit that's  included with many Medicare Advantage plans. CHECK YOUR ELIGIBILITY