Wednesday 13 February 2019

The importance of your gym gear

An aspect of exercise that can have a significant impact is what you wear whilst performing a work out. Most people are happy enough to simply buy and wear gym gear that appeals to them and there is nothing wrong in that, it helps display your persona and character. Yet sometimes it is worthwhile to judge whether it is what’s best suited for what you are doing.

Below I will share some personal experiences I've had over the years.

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We like short, shorts...

That catchy line from the Short Shorts song by the Royal Teens (1957) leads right to my first example. I like to wear a pair of purple shorts that are quite akin to long basketball shorts in length and are stretchy. The colour was bolder than what other fella’s in the gym would wear and I love the look of them however they were an absolute nuisance when doing lower body exercises.

A pair of shorts with a good leg length for leg work makes life so much easier such as with squats. Photo by Sam Sabourin on Unsplash.

When performing the big lifts such as the squat or deadlift, the shorts would hug onto my knee-caps restricting my movement and limiting my flexibility. In the end I had to stop wearing them for lower body exercises and wear a shorter pair. The freedom this gave me in my legs especially around the knees helped me to concentrate on performing the exercises. Problem solved.

The opposite end of too long? Photo by Hipcravo on Unsplash.

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It's the wrong trousers!

Another example of the appropriate gym gear for the occasion takes place outside of the gym environment. Outside the front of my house is a short wall just lower than hip height with a small fence railing on top of it. To put your foot on the ledge of the wall would bring my foot to near chest height. As a fan of Parkour and its underlining principles I am fond of whenever possible either leaping up onto it or stepping up onto it with one foot and swinging the other leg over the fence to the other side of the ledge.

Parkours scaling a wall efficiently
Not exactly what I was doing but you get the hint. Picture borrowed from Breaking Muscle.

The problem with this soon became obvious when done with leg wear that can be restrictive such as jeans. With tracksuit trousers or shorts no problems, but with the jeans I quickly ended up having to throw several pairs out due to big rips in the underside caused by the shear stretch forces being imposed on them.

Luckily I found a simple solution allowing me to continue wearing jeans and performing my wall vaults. In a local Tesco’s superstore clothes section I came across stretch fabric jeans. They looked no different from my other jeans and hugged a little tighter around the legs but by heck they did the job and I have yet to hear or feel a rip in them. I was that impressed I bought another pair for the other pair is being washed.

On jeans I have to admit I find it amazing and quite odd when I see people exercising in the gym–especially doing leg work–wearing jeans and ones that I would safely bet aren’t made with a stretchy material.

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Back when I started out at the gym oh so many years ago, I used to wear a cheap Chinese style pendant necklace even when I worked out. I would hit the treadmill as fast as I could and it would go bouncing all over the place even when I tucked it within my t-shirt. It was quite annoying but funny to look at in the mirror as I was pounding away on the treadmill.

For the gym you're better leaving the bling behind. Photo by Ye Fung Tchen on Unsplash

The simple solution was to stop wearing it but I didn't as I loved the necklace. In the end the situation to ditch it was forced upon me as over time due to the sweat the metal the pendant was made of started to corrode and turn green. Eventually I couldn't make out the symbols on it anymore.

Whilst this is a cautionary tale of not to wear cheap jewelry to the gym, in general you should leave the jewelry, cheap or expensive, at home or locked up in your gym locker. You are only asking for it to get tarnished or for it to get in your road. Rings especially. And unless you wash your jewelry they could become a breading ground of bacteria and germs from sweat build up. Ever smelt a wrist of someone who wears a wrist-watch just a bit too tight and only takes it off once in a blue moon? Yeah it stinks.

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Keeping to the beat

Headphones and earphones are an integral part of working out for some people. It helps to focus your mind from the din created by the rest of the gym and allows you to play the music you want to hear rather than the potential garbage being played on the gym radio or if you are in the great outdoors, the sound of nature or the city.

I could never keep the darn things on my head. Photo by Mohammed Awami on Unsplash.

I've always found it hard to keep headphones on my head and earphones in my ears when exercising, even those made to clip around your ears, the cables also got in the way. So much so I haven't worn a pair during exercise in years. As I also make use of a metronome during my workouts for keeping to the correct tempo for whatever phase of training I am in, it helps not to be listening to music directly. But if it works for you then continue as doing so as everyone's own experience is different.

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What you wear in the gym can also be heavily influenced by your own confidence. When I first started hitting the gym I had quite low self-esteem. This was reflected by what I wore such as tracksuit trousers and t-shirts in the gym even when working up a serious sweat. It's a natural reaction to try to hide oneself in plain sight. As time progressed and my confidence improved I started to wear shorts, and eventually I got around to wearing vest-tops.

I grew that comfortable in the gym that almost every time I go I'm wearing a vest-top and pair of shorts. Wearing "less" clothing also helps cool you down and allows you to be more flexible so it also has workout benefits.

It's not just how much or how little you wear in the gym that reflects your confidence. The style of your clothing also says a lot. The more confident you are the more likely you will wear brash and striking colours and designs that help catch the eye in a way wearing grayscale coloured clothing does't.

That's it for this post. If you have any questions feel free to comment below or send me some feedback!

Lyle Richardson,
Gym Pal - Your Friend In Fitness


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