Happy, happy new year! I hope it’s off to a great start and you’re doing an amazing job of sticking to your resolutions. This is the year we’re all going to get organized, sleep more, eat better and exercise regularly, right? Well, cheers to that! Let’s start with a refresh of our gym attire, shall we? As you’re replacing sports bras and yoga pants, here’s which features to look for and which ones to skip.
Moisture wicking simply means the material moves sweat away from your body and dries quickly. It can be accomplished by either specific treatments applied to the fabric or by blending fibers. In the technical world of textiles, cotton is hydrophilic, meaning that it will absorb loads of water and then takes a long time to dry. Hydrophobic fibers, like polyester, repel water and dry quickly. They’re so good at shunning water that your sweat just gets traps between your skin and your shirt. Look for workout clothes in a poly/cotton blend to get the best of both worlds- the wicking of synthetic with the softness and breathability of cotton.
From unsexy pieces like compression hose and Spanx to Michael Phelp’s infamous Fastskin, compression garments are here to stay. The jury is out on whether they actually improve performance or speed recovery time. However, athletes believe that they do and placebos are powerful, so who knows. I think that if looking that little bit svelter in your gym clothes motivates you to work out or gives you the confidence to try a new class or sport, then it’s a win.
Anti-microbial isn’t as fabulous as we all want to think it is. A Swiss study found that most of the antimicrobial treatment on clothing washed out within two launderings. As a backpacker and runner, I can attest to the fact that they don’t really reduce odor. Pouring fancy features and extra money down the drain is a bummer. So skip the silver nano-particles, long chemical names, etc. and instead just launder smartly. Sprinkle baking soda on your clothes about an hour or so before you wash them to reduce sweat stains and odors. (That works on white shirts, too!) Use the a high performance detergent if your workouts are particularly strenuous or your clothes are super smelly. WIN Sport Detergent is the official laundry detergent of the US Olympic Team. (Yes, really, they have an official detergent.)