The Fashion of Fitness
The gym is a place to sweat and breath hard. It is a place to push your muscles until they ache. It is a place to burn calories and build endurance. It is a place where we go so we can feel and look our most fabulous. And yet I notice few of us care how un-fabulous we might look when we are at the gym or for that matter how we look heading to or coming from our workout.
I must admit, I am somewhat influenced by the fact that I play a sport that is about as fashion conscious as they come. Even on a professional level, female tennis players can seem almost as concerned about how they look on the court as how they play on the court. I am almost embarrassed by the number of tennis outfits in my closet, and yet I still can't resist when I hear an adorable new tennis dress calling my name. When a girlfriend of mine came to cheer me on in a tournament she told me afterwards that she might take up tennis because the clothes are so darn cute. We play hard, don't get me wrong. Tennis chicks just believe in looking good too.
I would like to offer some suggestions for the gym that will leave you not only feeling great, but looking great as well.
Wear clothes that breathe well and have give to the fabric. Once upon a time clothes that made you sweat were all the rage. Think parachute pants. I still occasionally hear about clothes that will help you "lose weight". All these plastic fabrics do is suffocate your skin and force you to sweat more. They artificially elevate body temperature because air doesn't circulate and your body heat is intensified. You may temporarily lose a couple pounds in water weight, but as soon as you properly hydrate that weight will return. These clothes are actually unsafe because they can cause you to overheat and dehydrate. Clothes that are constricting to movement will cut and bind and inhibit your body's motion. This can make exercise downright uncomfortable. It is best to choose natural fibers for breathability blended with small amounts of lycra or some other stretchy material to help maintain shape.
Keep your hair neat and pulled away from your face. There are several arguments in favor of this aesthetic. First, sweaty, stringy hair hanging in one's face is hardly an attractive picture. Second, sweat mixed with hair oil and the various sundry products in the hair creates a great breeding ground for skin breakouts. And third, hair in your face can impede your vision and long hair dangling near equipment can be an outright safety issue.
Keep make-up to a minimum. There are make-up products out there that swear they are sweat-proof and rub-proof. I have tried them all and I have one word of critique. Rubbish. From mineral make-up to oil-free tinted "sports" foundation, as soon as I mop my dripping face the towel is wearing more make-up than I am. In a perfect world, workout and make-up shouldn't be uttered in the same sentence. However, there are those of us who, without a little help, seem almost featureless. I offer the following suggestions for putting your best face forward during your workouts. Use a little self tanner in a lighter shade to even out your skin tone. This is the only thing that won't rub of as soon as you start shvitzing. I re-apply only about every three to four days so I don't start looking like I am wearing a mask. A little black waterproof mascara helps your eyes pop, and a sweep of clear brow gel will open your face up. I am a fan of tinted lib balm (Burt's Bees makes a great one) to add a little color without going through the whole liner/lipstick routine. Lip stain with a little gloss works great too. Don't worry about blush because all that exercise will get you glowing in no time!
Wear clothes that are clean and well fitted. Remember Mom cautioning us against wearing ratty underwear? How would she feel about the ripped tees and baggy kneed sweats that populate the gym in abundance? I am not saying we should return to the Jane Fonda days of butt floss leotards and neon legwarmers but a little style never killed anyone. Leave the oversized swiss cheese T-shirts and stained shorts with the broken elastic waistband for sleeping or cleaning house. A well fitted tank top or tee with a sports bra for support coupled with a cute pair of shorts or some sleek yoga pants can take you from the gym through a round of errands looking like a superstar.
Four simple tips to take you from looking sweaty to slick, from frazzled to fab. If you have ever been caught in a super market aisle by the potential man of your dreams or maybe your boss looking like a bedraggled post workout rat you will understand the significance of this. Not too long ago I had my own eye opener that served as inspiration for this article. I was in the grocery store at the deli counter when I spotted a tennis buddy of mine. I was dressed for work and looking rather smart if I may say so myself. I called out a greeting and my friend turned and gave me a blank "do I know you?" kind of stare. I realized that without my sweaty tennis clothes, pigtails, baseball hat and scrubbed face she had no idea who I was. Not good. Since then I have been making an effort to present myself better on the court and in the gym. What I have discovered is that I not only make a better impression on others, I feel better about myself, more confident, and pulled together. I don't sweat less or breath less hard. I still push my muscles until they ache, burn calories and build endurance. I just look better doing it. Fabulous inside and out.