There’s nothing quite like trying something new, falling in love with it, and incorporating it into your daily life. This goes double for finding a workout routine that — for once — fits in with your lifestyle and leaves you feeling refreshed when you’re done.
But, sometimes, getting started with a new workout routine can be tricky, especially if you’re joining a class of established athletes who all seem really put together with all of the right equipment. Not having the right equipment or sporting ill-fitting workout clothes can distract you from focusing on your wellness, cause you to feel unnecessarily uncomfortable, or worse, even accidentally cause you to strain yourself during a workout.
To minimize the guesswork (and maximize your wellness), we’ve rounded up the best workout gear for every purpose and fit. Scroll down to see them all + our advice for picking the workout gear that is best for YOU.
Whether you’re doing Bikram, yin, ashtanga, or any other version of a yoga practice, it’s important to find apparel constructed from light, breathable fabrics so you can move efficiently through a flow or rest comfortably in a hold. The cornerstone of any collection of yoga gear is a great pair of leggings and supportive bra. Lululemon is a go-to for many, but Athleta, Sweaty Betty, Girlfriend Collective, and Outdoor Voices are alternative brands with a wide range of bra sizes and some of the softest leggings on the market.
Incorporating blocks, straps, or a blanket are another great way to round out your yoga practice and help you get the most out of your poses and your time on the mat.
If you’re new to running, the first piece of equipment you should research and invest in is a nice pair of running shoes catered to effectively supporting your gait and promoting good form. A lot of brick-and-mortar stores dedicated to selling running shoes will have helpful staff that can observe your gait and help you find a fit that will best support you. But, in the meantime, starting with Nike’s classic Pegasus running shoe will set you off on the right foot.
Boxing is a hobby that requires a little more research to get started than most. There are a lot of variables to consider when purchasing gear, like hand wraps, gloves, a mouthguard, or proper shoes, if you plan on sparring. If not, a pair of 12-oz boxing gloves and a few sets of semi-elastic hand wraps will be enough to get you started and practicing on a heavy bag.
Spinning is a great way to incorporate low-impact cardio into your workout routine. It can also be a great way to recover if you’re regularly lifting or participating in HIIT. Best of all, it’s one of the most forgiving activities you can take up, as it lends itself nicely to the workout gear you may already have in your closet. All you really need is an easy-to-hold water bottle and a heart rate monitor if you want to get the most out of every class.
Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re considering incorporating new workout gear into your repertoire.
Check in With Yourself More
Next time you’re in class and you get that nagging feeling that something isn’t coming together for you, take a moment to take an inventory of what you’re currently wearing and whether or not your clothes are serving you properly. For example, when you’re squatting with a heavy barbell or dumbells, does it feel like your feet are unstable, like you’re standing on a couch cushion? If so, you might need to invest in a pair of shoes that are built for lifting with a flat, hard sole. When you’re transitioning into the next yoga pose, does it feel like your clothes are fighting your movement? If so, you may need to invest in a less restricting bra.
It’s hard to figure out what you need after you walk away from your barbell or hang up your yoga mat. So next time you find your mind wandering during a workout because something feels off, take note of that specific feeling and use it to help you find a better option the next time you stock up on athletic clothes.
Do Some Research
OK, yes, this might be an extremely obvious thing to point out, especially if you’re new to a sport or practice. But believe me, when you do Bikram Yoga once with a washcloth-sized towel… you don’t make that mistake again.
The problem was, I didn’t do my research. I didn’t realize before I stepped in the studio just how hot the class actually was and I almost stormed out in the middle of the practice because I was so frustrated with sliding around on my yoga mat. Now, thanks to some research, I have found out that a lot of yogis who practice hot yoga will instead invest in special towels that are the same dimensions of their yoga mat to prevent slipping, or buy a pair of socks with texture to grip the mat.
Doing adequate research and coming prepared can mean the difference between enjoying something the first time you try it and swearing it off completely. Doing research will also prevent you from buying the first thing that comes along that might sound like what you need, but in practice just isn’t right for you. Workout gear is highly, highly subjective and even potentially unorthodox in some cases, so don’t be afraid to do the research and make a decision that is right for your body and your sport.
Stock Up on Your Faves
It goes without saying that when you find something you love, you can kind of become obsessed with it, and nowhere is this proclivity more common than in the world of fitness. When you finally go through the necessary steps to get acclimated with your new routine, take an inventory and conduct a little research. There will come a time when you’re mid-workout and you realize everything feels good. Those are the moments when you realize you’ve found exactly what works for you and you can go back and stock up on different colors, different levels of support, materials, etc. and actually create a workout wardrobe that is not only functional, but also cute (if that’s important to you!).
Block Out the Noise
I love crossfit, but I will be the first to admit that people in this community have opinions about everything from shoes to wrist wraps. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Reebok stan or a Nike aficionado, what works for you works for you and that’s all that matters.
When I bought my first set of wrist wraps I had two objectives: I wanted them to be thick enough to keep my wrists straight during overhead lifts and I wanted them to be a neutral color. It took me a long time to decide which brand to buy (trust me, I dwelled on it for a long time) and when I finally landed on a color and length that I wanted from a brand with high reviews, I still got raised eyebrows at the first time I broke them out at the gym.
At the end of the day, people are going to have their opinions, no matter what. And you can save yourself a lot of effort trying to consider everyone’s advice when choosing which brand is going to best suit your fitness needs.