What you wear matters. Comfort= High Performance
As I write this, I’ve just realised that I left my workout gloves at home and the worst part is that its upper body day; which means I’ll be lifting a lot of dumbbells. It’s the most annoying thing when you forget your gloves because I doubt anyone is keen on getting palm blisters. However, the most irritating thing to leave at home are your earphones; I am not even exaggerating when I say I would rather miss gym than go without my music. Call it being petty or skiving, all I know is that I need MY playlist and not the Lingala or gospel music they play at the gyms here in Nairobi. (I am I alone in this struggle?)
Anyway! Let’s get into it. Leaving my gears at home inspired me to write an article on the items that you should prioritise to buy if you are starting out this gym thing (as most people would call it). When I started out, nobody gave me any advice or tips for that matter. I simply threw myself in the deep end and got blisters, knee injuries and even wasted money on the wrong active wear. But this doesn’t have to happen to you 😊, so here are my top 9 items that I encourage you to buy to make your workout more enjoyable.
1. Water Bottle (Water is life)
I don’t mean any random empty water bottle lying around your kitchen counter or your bedroom desk. Get yourself a fun water bottle, and preferably one that can fill up to 2 litres. You will be losing a lot of water through sweat when you are working out, you will need to recover every drop of it. Unless you want to faint from dehydration or make countless trips to the water dispenser to keep topping up your bottle 😊 . Reebok- Addidas have the best types of water bottles in my opinion! You can still get some from Nakumatt but those tend to be more of desk bottles for the office.
2. The Right Shoes
You will need to buy a good pair of sneakers; but not just any sneakers.
Before you go out and buy a new pair of shoes, it's important to be aware of what you'll be using them for. People who do a lot of running need to focus on a totally different set of needs than those that plan on doing a lot of heavy lifting. I have realized its best to have two pairs of sneakers; one for running (outdoors), and another for training at the gym.
Training shoes are for multi-directional movement, especially side-to-side movement like the side squats etc. The sole of a training shoe is more flexible to allow a wide range of movement. Someone should have warned me sigh!
Running shoes on the other hand, are for ‘heel-to-toe’ movement (literally running). They protect your feet when pounding the ground repeatedly as you are doing your hikes or marathons. These help with forward movement and they cushion your heel by having a higher heel drop than training shoes. Just remember, running shoes have a higher heel drop for added support and cushioning. Major Key Alert
If your wallet is not cooperating,ask for the mutli- purpose sport shoes that can be used for both running and training. :-)
3. Ankle socks
Ankle socks are best for the gym because your legs feel lighter and freer to all kinds of movement. Ankle socks also allow your shin to breathe. We can’t be wearing school uniform socks at the gym (you know the ones you fold??). If you are reading this, as lawyers would say it, please cease and desist from wearing anything that goes above your ankles in the gym. It’s not a good look. Trust me. Skechers always have a great sale where you can buy three fantastic pairs for under 1200/= or you can even try Bata.
Choosing the wrong pair for a workout can also irritate your skin and ultimately cause blisters while other socks will keep sliding under your heel (how annoying). I get all my socks from sports shops like Nairobi Sports House. Close your eyes and just invest in some good colourful pairs.
4. Capris leggings/ yoga pants
From my experience yoga pants are the most comfortable to wear in the gym. They are light on your body which doesn’t limit your movement and you can comfortably do your squats without having to worry about them getting ripped. The only problem in Kenya is that they are not very affordable, unless you go for second hand items. I recently discovered a lovely shop at the hub called F & F and their items are reasonably priced! I find Vivo, Nairobi Sports House, and Rebook – Addidas to be overpriced for pants. But if your pockets allow it, then those are still great options. Just make sure you buy pants that have polypropylene, nylon and spandex. (The tag inside the pants should indicate the type of material it is)
I see many people wearing long, baggy pants which can be a hazard. The clothes tend to catch on exercise machines like stationary bikes, where the hem can get stuck on the pedals or the water bottle holder. You also don’t want to be seen wearing sweat pants in the gym, especially if they are grey in color and there is a huge sweat patch between your thighs. Sweat pants should be worn before or after the gym.
The right leggings put a smile on your face, even Kelly Rowland agrees! ;-)
5. Gym Vests/ Top/ Tank Vest/ Sports Bra
There are so many variations! You want to have either sleeveless or long-sleeved vests for the gym. I find short sleeves to be the most comfortable because your armpits have ample breathing space. Again the material is crucial, pick any material that has polyester, nylon or tencel. Don’t just buy a random vest from a shop and call it your work out gear. Go to a sports shop and pick a vest that is specifically for working out 😊. Most importantly, have fun with your picks! It can be a simple vest or something as funky as the selection from Ivy Park, Fabletics, H&M, etc. The more fun and colourful your vests are, the more you'll enjoy the workout! Check out Demi Lovato and Jasmine Cooks' look in the pictures below.
6. Head band
If you love your hairline, you want to get a headband! Since you will be sweating, you want to keep your hairline dry as possible by reducing the amount of sweat it will be exposed to. Wearing a headband also holds the sweat and prevents it from flooding your face. I try to match my headbands to the colour of my ankle socks.
7. Hand gloves
I used to think hand blisters are a myth or an exaggeration, but they are not. If you love your hands, you'll want to invest in two pairs that you can interchange during the week. They also help with getting a better grip on the weights if you have sweaty palms 😊. Nairobi Sports House have a good selection; I was lucky to get them at a discount. Make sure you get a pair that has enough cushion to protect your hands from all the lifting.
This one for me is crucial! I always have emergency ear phones in case I forget my main pair at home. It doesn’t matter the brand, but if you can afford it, get yourself a sports friendly pair that can curve around your ears (like the Beats by Dre sports version) or a pair that can be tucked comfortably into your ears because of all the running. You don’t want them to be sliding out of your ears every 3 minutes while you are working out. Soon I’ll be posting some of my favorite playlists that take me through my routines :)
9. Gym bag
Get yourself a funky gym bag to put all these items. Now you are ready to hit the gym! :-)
Check out these combinations to see how you can spice up your workout gear and combine different colours. I picked out pictures from my favorite websites (shops). I wish they were all mine!
I hope these visuals show you that you can still remain stylish and playful with your workout clothes in the gym. You know what they say, when you look good, you feel good.