There is a whole world of fitness gear out there. Supposedly, for every sport different clothing, shoes and accessories are required. For some people, not owning the specific ‘equipment’ is reason enough not to try out a certain sport (I’m not just talking about horseback riding or golf here). However, I have rarely (read: never) come across people at sports clubs or gyms who have judged a person on their limited equipment. On the contrary, if you show up to your first class looking like you have been practicing the sport for years, that is when people might look at you strangely. But then again, who cares. You need to wear whatever makes you feel comfortable and confident. If that’s what it takes to get you to continue or start a sport then go for it! I personally find newly purchased fitness gear a great motivation to work out.
Weight training: I am by no means a pro and I don’t lift extremely heavy weights, which is why my equipment is quite limited. However, there are some accessories that I think come in handy during a training session. I have linked the websites where some of my favorite items can be found!
- Training shoes: When weight training, you don’t really walk (never mind run) around much. However, it might happen that if you add in some more cardio in to a training session you find yourself hopping up and down a bench, doing jumping squats or lunges etc. For this reason I find it easier not to wear shoes with a huge sole that might hinder your movement. However, that might also have to do with my sports shoes being a size 42. Famous brands such as Reebok and Nike sell basic ones that will do the trick!
- Lifting gloves: When I first started weight training I began to notice calluses on my hands (woohoo) and as I didn’t want to look like a girl with lumberjack hands I decided to get lifting gloves. They are by no means essential when lifting weights at my level (again, no pro) but they do make the bars less painful to hold on to! If you do get them, I suggest getting the ones with wrist straps for more support when lifting.
- A good water bottle: This might sound evident but I see so many people just buying small plastic bottles at their gym before every training session. However, I have found that by carrying a re-fillable water bottle around all day forces you to drink more water through out the day. It might even keep you from eating when you’re actually thirsty, but that’s for another post! Plus, you’re making an environmentally friendly decision (YES!). Really handy ones (with the sucky thing on top) can be found at Camelbak or Nike.
Running: Even though this is not my favorite form of cardiovascular training, it is the handiest in terms of equipment. It can be done almost everywhere and, except for good running shoes, there are no other essentials, which makes it a great sport for when you are travelling or can’t get to the gym.
- Running shoes: I can’t stress enough how important it is to invest in good running shoes, especially if you run more than 3 times a week or for longer amounts of time. If this is the case and you’re trying to figure out if you should invest in running or training shoes, choose running shoes! Don’t just buy these ‘Nike Free fly/knit-whatevers’ because they will increase the risk of injuries considerably (think runners knee, shin splints etc.) I also suggest finding out what your feet require. If you have flat feet then you’ll probably need to insert special soles in to your running shoes or get shoes that provide more support in the middle of your foot. The brand that I use (so do most of the runners I know) is Asics.
- Sports bra: This might seem evident to many of you but not everyone knows what a marvellous invention this is. There is no need to buy really expensive ones because it is mostly about the comfort it provides you. Especially if you’re a runner I strongly suggest investing in the ones that are dry-fit as they won’t absorb all of your sweat as a normal bra would. Disclaimer: if you hate running, a sports bra probably isn’t going to change that!
- An arm band for your phone: If you like listening to music whilst running this is a must. To me there is nothing more annoying than having to tuck your phone in to your tights, which almost always results in to your phone falling on the ground or slowly walking its way down your leg. Again, it doesn’t have to be anything too fancy but I guess that depends on the importance you accord to the safety of your phone!
- Heart-rate monitor: This is the last item on the list because you can still run perfectly fine without it. The monitor consists of a type of watch, connected to a heart rate sensor, thus telling you how high or how low your heart rate is during your activity. This is great when your objective is to lose body fat as you will be able to see when you are in a ‘fat burning zone’. I especially love using it when doing High Intensity Interval Training because it gives me an idea of when I have reached my VO2 max and thus letting me know when to slow down.
(New) Fitness clothing, to me, might be one of the best parts of working out (I know, I know, what a girly thing to say). I absolutely love finding new stores and websites with original designs and colours. However, I do believe that the fitness clothing you choose to wear is very personal as you should wear what makes you feel most comfortable. The clothes your friend or that one health blogger on Instagram wears might not be the best fit for you! If you’re a bit unconfident about your tummy then simply avoid wearing tight tops and show off another part of your body. There are some pieces of clothing and materials I would avoid wearing, though!
I usually go for clothing that isn’t made out of pure cotton as these items are not great for when you’re sweating. Luckily you won’t find much of those items on websites selling only sportswear. Furthermore, I try to avoid t-shirts that are too loose and usually go for fitted tops as I sometimes find myself doing handstands so… I think you get the picture! In terms of bottoms, I mostly wear black capri tights (just below the knee) as I feel they fit nicest with my body type and legs.
Also, I have found that, depending on the body part I’m training that day, I choose clothing that allows me to see specific muscles working. For example, if I’m training my back and shoulders I’ll wear a top that reveals those muscles, whereas if I’m working my legs I might wear shorts rather than tights. I have found that this is also a great way of motivating yourself as it allows you to see some progress in the strength and toning of your body.
When running I usually go for the same clothing as for weight training (with the exception of the shoes). However, here, the issue of wearing pure cotton has to be amplified even more! One of the worst things is probably wearing a shirt that absorbs all of your sweat and leaves you soaking wet after your running session.
If you like running outside when it’s a bit colder I would go for long running tights, long-sleeved sweatshirts (again, avoid thick cotton sweaters) topped with a thin airtight running jacket.