Moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial, water-resistant, UV-blocking… Do you really need all of this in a hoodie? Will performance sportswear help you to have a better, more comfortable, more effective workout? And is it really worth paying $80 for a pair of yoga pants?
These are all good questions, and the answer is, it depends. When choosing your exercise clothes, consider all the variables that go into your workout. Are you buying clothes for high-impact exercise that will really make you sweat? Are you doing a variety of workouts, or mainly one type? Do you want your sportswear to double as streetwear?
Are you dressing for an indoor or an outdoor activity?
What works for you will in part be a matter of trial and error. Maybe you love the way that compression fabric feels against your skin—but maybe you hate it. Or maybe you’ve found that a particular brand of leggings you have has worn out after only 3 months of wear—that’s a brand that you’ll probably want to avoid in the future. However, there are certain performance fabrics that will really enhance your workout, and while they may come with a higher price tag, they will be worth it in terms of wearability, longevity, and keeping you feeling cooler, warmer, or more supported while you’re working hard to get fit.
Research & Development
As our workouts become more focused, we demand more from our performance sportswear. If you’re a cycling enthusiast, you need a wind-proof jacket that can carry you into the cooler months, extending your season and helping you get the most out of that expensive bike you just invested in. A yogi, on the other hand, doesn’t need to worry about the elements, but she may want to opt for environmentally friendly Tencel, which feels good against the skin while absorbing sweat.
The major performance sportswear manufacturers release new technology every year in the hopes of keeping you drier in the rain or cooler in the gym. Performance fabrics can be expensive to develop and manufacture, and often brands do extensive research to develop their own proprietary blends. And of course, these fabrics are patented to protect the work that goes into developing them. The expense of inventing new fabrics may include paying influencer athletes to do multiple rounds of testing to perfect the products they’re used in. Further expense goes into marketing these fabrics, so if you’re wearing the same running shorts or performance hoodie as your favorite athlete, that costs money, too. Making garments domestically using eco-friendly practices adds further expense. So you may be able to see why prices seem to be increasing all the time.
Types of Performance Fabric
Once you’ve identified the pieces that are vital to your workout, check the labels for the following types and blends of fabric and choose the ones that will best suit your particular workout.
Spandex/Lycra (elastane)—This universal material makes for stretchy, breathable, quick-drying workout clothes. If you work out, you probably already own a few pieces that are made of spandex.
Bamboo spandex—Made from bamboo pulp, this highly versatile fabric is anti-odor, moisture wicking, and provides UV protection. Performance wear made from bamboo can take you from yoga to the gym to the school run without missing a beat.
Polyester—Clothing made of polyester or a polyester blend has many desirable characteristics for a variety of workouts. It provides sun protection and a decent barrier from water, it’s warm yet breathable as well as durable, lightweight, and non-absorbent. It will, however, become smelly, so avoid it for items that you will really sweat into.
TENCEL—TENCEL, made from wood pulp, has similar properties to bamboo. Performance sportswear that is made from TENCEL feels silky and luxurious while being breathable, wrinkle-resistant, and biodegradable. It makes good studio-to-street wear.
Compression fabric—There is evidence that compression fabric increases blood flow, which may aid in shortening recovery times. It has the added benefit of sculpting your body, so you look can great while you’re working hard.
Polypropylene—Polypropylene is a plastic-based fabric that will allow you to run in the rain without feeling a drop.
Nylon—Garments made of nylon and nylon blends combat sweat by wicking it to the surface of the fabric. Nylon is soft, stretchy, lightweight, and resistant to smells and bacteria.
X-STATIC—This fabric incorporates silver—yes, the metal—to make workout clothes resistant to bacteria and fungus. It’s used in everything from sports bras to t-shirts to leggings.
Note: It’s important to follow all washing and drying instructions on performance sportswear labels to preserve the fabric’s special properties.
Look Good, Feel Good, Work Harder
Most people will agree that when they feel more confident in their appearance, they are more likely to work out more often. It’s kind of hard to get inspired when you’re wearing your bulky college hoodie and a ratty old pair of sweat pants! A flattering pair of leggings or a form-fitting muscle tee may well get you out of bed and into the gym on a day where you might otherwise hit the snooze button 10 times. It’s an intangible, but if spending a little bit more on fabric that holds up and is flattering motivates you to dig in and get to work, then factoring that into your buying decision actually makes good financial sense.
On the other hand, you may be coveting that $150 onesie that looks great on the model… but once you get it home, will you really use it? A wardrobe of sportswear that is interchangeable, flattering, and useful will serve you better than trendy pieces that sit neatly in the bottom of your drawer.
Wayne Sporting Goods—Where Performance Meets Style
Wayne Sporting Goods carries the latest in performance fabric technology so that you can look and feel great during every workout. Stop by to check out our selection and get our staff’s honest opinions on which pieces are worth spending a little extra on, and when you’d be fine just wearing a basic cotton t-shirt! We look forward to helping you navigate the complex world of performance fabrics to give your workout the boost you need!