If the thought of wearing body-hugging lycra in front of floor-to-ceiling mirrors makes you break out in a nervous sweat -- relax. Workout clothing has come a long way since the unforgiving Jane Fonda leotard, but finding the right gear when you’re a plus size can be daunting.
Workout clothing needs to be tight enough not to get in the way while offering support for your body (and your self-confidence). If you’re tired of wearing a baggy old T-shirt and unflattering tracksuit pants, My Blackmores can show you how to select gym gear to boost your confidence and improve your appearance while you get physical.
Regardless of the type of exercise, you need the right underwear. The most important aspect is comfort. Undies that ride up or fall down are an impediment to a good workout. There’s some discussion about which material is best. Cotton allows breathability but also collects moisture that can cause chafing. These days, most good quality workout clothing uses moisture-wicking fabric that draws sweat away from the skin.
Studies suggest breasts can bounce up to 21cm during exercise, so a good sports bra is vital to strap the “girls” in.
- Sports bras should fit more tightly than a regular bra but still allow you to take a deep breath.
- Straps shouldn’t dig into your shoulders and when you lift your arms over your head, the elastic band shouldn’t move up your rib cage.
- When you jump on the spot, it should feel supportive.
Baggy or tight?
It’s common for plus size fitness newbies to opt for baggy clothing in the belief it hides your body. But wearing oversized clothing actually detracts from your look and can get in the way when exercising by weighing you down or getting tangled in machines.
The ideal is semi-fitted clothing that follows the shape of your body but doesn’t cling. It also means you can check your form as you exercise. Another reason to avoid baggy clothing is to prevent skin-on-skin contact that causes chafing. You need material to cover vulnerable areas under the arms and the inner thigh – anywhere that rubs. One suggestion is to wear stretch leggings, tights and garments underneath semi-fitted clothing as you tone your perfect posterior and shapely shoulders.
Read more to find out how to wave goodbye to those bingo wings at last.
Shapewear for the gym
While it’s challenging to find workout clothing in bigger sizes, more manufacturers are catering to the plus size market. ChampionUSA, for example, has a plus size range especially “cut for your curves”.
Shapewear has also become a popular way to control bumps, jiggles and rolls by applying compression panels and strategically placed seams to workout clothing. The new range of Spanx Active does this well. US company Apifeni ships to Australia for a flat $10 fee.
Comfort needs to be your overriding criteria, but a little help to hold your mid-section in place will go a long way to improving your body confidence at the gym.
Dressing for your shape
Apples, pears or bananas – no matter your size, choose gear than enhances your shape. When it comes to gym tops, one trick is to wear a longer singlet under a semi-fitted T-shirt. For gym pants, bootleg cut and capri pants are more flattering gym pants for the fuller figure.
In her book How To Never Look Fat Again: 1,000 Ways to Dress Thinner – Without Dieting!, style expert Charla Krupp’s advises: “You want to look and feel good about your body when you’re working out so you don’t just give up and quit early. To psych yourself up, look fit and not fat in a black, navy or gray flared yoga pant. It’s the most universally flattering bottom to work out in. The pant length looks best long, but if you’re doing a spin class, you’ll want to go a little shorter with a pant that hugs your ankle.”
The best way to work out which styles suit you, is to try on different types of workout clothes.
Colour me beautiful
When you’re bigger, it’s best to avoid light colours and busy patterns. Plain lines give a more flattering look. Block colours are more slimming with black, navy and dark grey the most popular choices. If you want to use colour, layering is the answer with longer coloured singlet tops under a darker top a slimming strategy.