Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Project 2011: Buy Less, Give More - Workout Edition

If there's one category of clothing I've wasted a lot of money on, it's workout apparel. And it's not because I've bought a lot of expensive gear, but rather I've bought a lot of cheap stuff that hasn't lasted or had longevity.  Since the top New Year's Resolution year after year is to get in shape, I thought I'd share a bit of what I've learned when shopping for workout clothes. 

My workout essentials:
1. Long sleeve zip-up dry wick shirt that can be worn running or working out.  Qty. 1
2. Dry wick T-Shirts.  Qty. 2-3
3-4. Dry wick tank top.  Qty. 1
5. Dry wick capri pants.  Qty. 1
6. Quality Sportsbra (don't skimp here!).  Qty. 2-3
7. Running Shorts w/self liner (yes, those liners are intended to be your only undergarment).  Qty. 3
8. Good pairs of running socks.  Even if you don't run, I promise these are the most comfortable.  Qty. 4
9. Running shoes.  Again, even if you're not running, I suggest wearing running shoes as opppsed to cross-trainers because they are light and supportive.  Qty. 1

The three things you want to look for in your gear are comfort, durability and affordability.  The key is to strike a balance somewhere in the middle between not too cheap and not too expensive; you don't want to be replacing the $15 sports bra every 9 months, or wear the $150 high-end outfit 30 times before you feel like you've got your money's worth. 

I've tried numerous brands including Adidas, Puma, Danskin, Target brand, Lululemon and Under Armour, and the brand that I've found to have the best performance for the price is Nike. Their Dri-Fit gear fits well and truly does a good job of wicking moisture away from the body. And it lasts for years, literally. I have had some pieces, like my long sleeve zip-up for over 10 years and it's still going strong. When I look at the cost of some of these items and consider how much use I've gotten out of them, they are well worth the initial investment. Remember, it's not just about spending less for me, but buying less as well.  Think of it this way:

A $35 Sportsbra will last you at least 3 years, or for 312 wears (working out 2 days per week):
     Total Cost Per Wear = 11 cents 
 A $15 Sportsbra from Target will last you 1 year if you're lucky:
     Total Cost Per Wear = 14 cents 
So the more expensive, higher quality bra is the better value in the long run.   I'll replace it fewer times, so I'll spend less and buy less overall. 

In regards to shoes, my main suggestion here is go for comfort first and cute factor last.  Try on several pairs and several brands.  Each company has their own special lass and will truly fit differently.  Nike tends to have a wider lass and so my narrow foot slides around too much and I get blisters.  New Balance's footprint fits my narrow foot much better, and I've worn them now for years even though I like Nike's designs and styles better. 

For gear, I never pay full price.  I shop resources like Nordstrom Rack which has a great Nike selection, outlet stores, or wait until Nordstrom has their Anniversary Sale, in which they always have new Nike gear for at least 30% off.  Since I've started buying better quality workout apparel about 2 years ago, I really don't have much of a need for anything new.  This year I will replace a couple of my dry fit T-shirts because the underarms are a bit stained, but other than the stains they are in perfect condition. 

And that's it.  I hope you've found this somewhat helpful.  The sad news is since returning to work I rarely do get a chance to workout, but I'm hopeful that I'll find my groove again one day!


  1. I love Nike workout gear! Quality is truly important for this area of the wardrobe. I wish I worked out more too! Working long hours is h-a-r-d! Thanks for sharing your cost per wear ideas ;)

  2. I live in those Nike running shorts they are my favorite! Love this post!

  3. My workout gear never gets used! LOL! I guess that's not really funny, but it's the truth. You are right though, a good sports bra is VERY important. I cringed when I had to buy a new one at the prices, but I did a lot of research and found one that keeps the girls in place.

  4. My "research" (or my experience with workout wear)has brought me to the same conclusion regarding purchasing quality gear. The upfront cost may seem like a splurge, but my Nike pants and tops have lasted YEARS as opposed to my ON or Target buys.

  5. I second the Nike gear. I've had my dri-fit pants for 10 years at least. I still love them and I am just now thinking I should get a new pair. I do have two pairs of Lululemon pants that I LOVE. SO worth the price honestly..they are not only super comfy, but they move with you, act like support wear and hold you in and they're CUTE! Sports bras I have to have MAJOR support but Champion ones work really, really well actually. And they aren't that pricey. I top them with long tanks from Target that have lasted years too.

  6. i pretty much just wear like big t-shirts when i work out~!! i'm def NOT cute when i work out, maybe i should invest in some!! haha!!

  7. Just a thought...depending on how often you work out - two pairs of workout shoes are a good idea. When you alternate them they don't break down nearly as fast.


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