There is always the great debate in fitness: if you spend $100 on workout legging, do you really workout any better? Or are the $20 ones from Target just fine?

With so many athletic and fitness wear brands out there, there are tons of choice nowadays. Add the fact that it seems every brand has an online store and the possibilities seem endless. So is it worth it shelling out the big buck to a fancy label for what looks like the same black pants? Here are my thoughts on the cheap vs splurging active wear debate.

1. Know your budget! This is going to be the big limiting factor. No matter how much you covet those Lululemon shorts, if you can’t spare the $$ out of your monthly budget, don’t get them. There are all types of brands, in all budget ranges today. From Target & Cotton On for the student budget to Lorna Jane and Lululemon for those with more expendable cash, find the gear you can afford! Working out should never put you into debt.

2. How much are you going to use it? Is this a new activity or something you do already 5 days/week? Is this another tank top adding to the 16 of the same thing in your closet? Or your only pair of crops since you are sick of deciding between pants and shorts on slightly cool days? Save on items that aren’t going to be used as frequently (aka the 10th basic workout tank top), and research and splurge on items that are going to be in rotation everyday of the week. (aka black yoga pants that are part of the personal trainer uniform.)

3. Window shop at the gym! (and in your workout buddies closets!) The gym is a great place to look for new workout clothes! Not only can you see it in action, you can ask the person where they got it and if it works well. So instant reviews! It also might introduce you to new brands that you would have never known about. Great way to see active wear on an actual body without spending anything.

4. Do the dressing room test! This means doing the same movements that your activity requires, in the dressing room. Think squats and lunge to test out pants/crops/shorts, and arm circles and twists for tops. While you may not get the same intensity as the real thing, but it will sure tell you if you’ll be getting plumber’s crack as soon as you squat or if you feel like the Hulk in transformation in that shirt. No matter how much you are paying, it is worth it to get gear that fits your body and moves with you.

5. Don’t get label stuck. Not all labels are created equally. I am not just talking about price and quality, I am talking about fit. Don’t go for “It mostly fits” just because it’s the fancy brand name. You are more likely to be replacing your clothes more often, costing you more money, this way. Find a brand or brands that fit you! Target and K-Mart are great for looking for low end items, but it just doesn’t fit, go elsewhere! I love Lululemon, but I have put on sports bras that rub in the wrong spots. So I went to SportChek and found one that did fit! A good workout wardrobe is defined by the activities you do, not by the labels on the clothes.

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A selection of labels found in my own closet

6. Shoes are worth the splurge. Shoes are the one item that I believe are worth splurging on. Last thing anyone needs are shoes that give you don’t fit while you are running on a treadmill or doing jump squats on the gym floor. Along with the all the above advice, getting a specific pair of shoes for your activity is key. Court shoes for indoor courts, trail shoes for outdoor running, cleats for soccer etc. In addition, I personal reserve my gym shoes for just the gym. This means changing into them at the gym, and not wearing them in the rain or snow. I have made my shoes last much longer this way, making the splurge worth it.

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My trusty red Asics! I don’t go to the gym without them!

In the end, it come down to personal choice. Find gear that works for you, is comfortable and in your budget. Then get moving!

Happy Training!

-SB

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