I thought it might be fun to do a little rundown of my favorite fitness stuff. I don’t run (running gear is a totally different animal!), but if you do yoga, cardio, weights, spinning, barre, etc., these things would probably work great for you too.
If you’re trying to build up a wardrobe of sportswear and don’t want to spend Lululemon $$$ right off the bat, remember these brands: C9 by Champion for Target, Old Navy, Gap Fit and Ellie. Old Navy and Gap are constantly running discount promotions. If you have a Gap outlet near you, they stock Gap Fit items too. Some of the best workout gear I have is from Ellie. For $50, you can choose two items per month and the quality is fantastic. Marshall’s and TJMaxx are great spots to pick up discounted fitness gear too. If you check regularly, you can get brand name items (Nike, Adidas) for next to nothing. Speaking of Nike, you can head to their Factory Stores and get amazing deals on clothing and shoes. One last spot: Nordstrom Rack. They stock brand names (like Nike), but also tend to have last season Zella items. Zella is Nordstrom’s house sportswear brand and it’s wonderful. Nordstrom also makes many of their Zella items available in plus sizes, which is great to see.
Another tip: if you’re just starting out building a little collection of stuff you’re going to sweat constantly in, consider buying things in the same color family. I have a lot of black and gray items and I can throw them all in the wash together. You should always wash sportswear separate from your other laundry. Don’t use fabric softener and make sure you use cold water. Keep it away from zippers too! Wash sportswear jackets or half-zips separate from tanks and leggings. Try to air-dry everything if you can. I don’t have a ton of space in our laundry room for air drying everything, so I haul it to our master bathroom and hang them from the racks on the back of our doors, over the shower wall, over the bathtub, etc. The fabric is designed to dry quickly, so if you do this before bed, they’ll probably be dry by morning.
- Zella Live In Leggings, $52 - Zella’s Live In leggings come in a variety of colors/patterns, but their plain black should be your first purchase. These are thick, well-made and completely opaque. I like them better than Wunder Unders (although I can’t deny that Wunder Unders do something magical to the backside region). They’re good for working out, but you can wear them with casual outfits (like sweaters and boots) too. If you prefer a more traditional yoga pant style, Zella has those too.
- Lululemon No-Limits Tank, $64 - The price tag is scary, but they often mark down seasonal patterns and colors. If you tend to do a combo of yoga and cardio, this is the perfect all-around tank. The tight band is good for yoga (no riding up) and it’s light and cool enough to be comfortable while I sweat like a pig in spin. I like to size down in these so they fit a little more closely than the fit on the model above. When worn larger, the extra fabric flopping around is distracting (especially when the material gets sweaty).
- Nike Frees, $95 - Nike Frees are a great sneaker. Besides the fact that they look cool, they’re also really comfortable and available in different degrees of support. If you like a more supportive shoe, look for the Nike Frees in higher numbers (Nike Free 5.0). For a more barefoot feel, the lower numbers are better (3.0, etc.). I own several pairs of these and they’re good for walking, doing weights, running errands, whatever! The price tag on new pairs is steep, but Nike Factory stores sell them for much less.
- Gap Fit Training Jacket, $65 (Take 35% off today with GAPFALL) - I own a few of Gap Fit’s training jackets in various styles and love all of them. The fit is flattering and the arms are nice and long (love!). Since Gap is always offering discounts, they’re affordable—and you can usually find them at Gap outlet stores too. It’s a good pre- or post-workout layer for cooler months.
- Lululemon Bang Buster, $18 - Some people don’t care for these since the band is wider than a typical headband, but I love it for exactly that reason. Also: I’ve always had trouble with headbands sliding off and these stay put.
- Ellie Tahiti Leggings, $25 if bought with club membership, $115 a la carte - I have several pairs of Ellie leggings (and love them all), but these are a current favorite. They have moto styling around the knees. They are opaque, thick and good for the gym or wearing out and about.
- Lululemon Scuba Hoodie, $108 - Once again, EXPENSY. But you’ll wear it all the time. It’s warm without being stifling and the high neck is helpful during the winter. If you can’t pull the trigger on a $100 hoodie, check out eBay or Lululemon trading boards. You can get used ones for much less.
- Old Navy Active Running Jacket, $17-$26 - Old Navy half-zip jackets are really inexpensive and they’re my favorite half-zip option. They’re warm (but breathable), flattering on and available year-round in various colors and patterns.
- Ellie Heartbreaker Capri, $25 if bought with club membership, $45 a la carte - I’ve tried several different crops from various brands, but I keep coming back to the Ellie ones.
- Aerie Seamless Bra, $19.95 - I don’t need a ton of support, so I usually alternate between two sports bras: one with thicker straps and one with thinner straps (below). This one is really comfortable.
- C9 by Champion Seamless Bra, about $20 - I’m really impressed by Target’s sports bras. They have lots of different support options.
- Lululemon Cool Racerback, $42 - The Cool Racerback is the best basic workout tank I’ve found. I love how long it is and the fabric is thick without being constricting. Finding the best size in these is tricky, so I suggest trying them on if you can. If you prefer a tank with a shelf bra, I also like Lululemon’s Power Y tanks. (Sizing can also be tricky with the Power Ys. I find they run a little smaller than the Cool Racerbacks.) You can find both of these on eBay or trading boards too.
- Shimano Mountain Bike Shoes, about $99 - If you’re just starting up spin classes, definitely get a pair of bike shoes. I’ve had the same pair of Shimanos since I was 16 or 17 and they’re still pristine. If you’ve never worn bike shoes, you’ll find it easier to walk in mountain bike versions (or any that have rubber outsoles).
- Old Navy Sport Sock 3-Packs, $6.50 - I lose socks all the time so grab new packs from Old Navy and Target every now and then. I don’t run so I’m not picky about sock quality!
- Victoria’s Secret Sport Duffle Bag, $99.50 - I’m still using my Lululemon bag, but this Victoria’s Secret duffle is similar. Target sometimes has cute gym bags (look in the fitness gear aisle, the one with free weights and DVDs) or check out Lululemon’s current options.