The pricey gym gear conspiracy

Last updated 11:48 08/01/2014
Victoria's Secret
Victoria's Secret

ANGEL ACTIVEWEAR: Clothes have always been designed to appeal to our insecurities and expensive workout gear is no exception.

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I do not look pretty at the gym. My trusty workout gear consists of sweat shorts with my high school emblem; yellow patched, deodorant stained T-shirt emblazoned with 'ELIGIBLE', leftover from a CLEO Bachelor of the Year shoot I was working on, and a jangly sports bra, discoloured and sagging in multiple places due to too many spins in the tumble dryer. 

My half-arsed attempt to set those New Year's resolution wheels in motion saw me attend my first class at the gym the other day. It was called 'Body Attack', if that wasn't foreboding enough.

Who knew I was to walk straight into a roomful of Lululemon and Lorna Jane evangelists and lean, lithe bodies clad in shapely Spanx?

If you haven't got the memo, not-so-frequent gym-goers, looking cute and fashionable while working out is now very much a thing.

The gym has always been a minefield for possible humiliation, what with the performance anxiety, public showering, change rooms reminding you of high school, the risk of running into someone from work and multiple forces conspiring to make you look and feel chubby and unathletic.

Yet only recently have 'gymtimidating' forces shamed us into dressing the part, too, forking out big for designer workout gear that'll have us looking stylish while doing sun salutations.

Wearing your compression leggings hours after your workout is over is no longer something to be mocked. The designer activewear market grew 7 per cent over the previous year, while general apparel only grew 1 per cent - and the trend does not look to be slowing down.

On every treadmill, there's a woman in fashionable workout gear. The type with strategic air vents and sweat-wicking 'technology', racer-back, built-in everything and weird scuba fabric known as 'neoprene' to give garments a fashion-forward 'sporty-chic' edge.

Controversy plagued yoga-wear company Lululemon's cult culture is taking over the world, one toned tush at a time. The Ayn Rand worshipping company has successfully outfitted the population in Wunder Unders and convinced us that paying $109 for yoga pants is A-OK. What better way to realign your chakras?

Could expensive fitness gear be the secret to feeling less discouraged at the gym? According to researchers, "enclothed cognition"  sees us undergo mental changes in response to wearing certain clothing, which explains the mental boost one may get from wearing form-fitting yoga pants. Yet enclothed congnition is no substitute for intrinsic motivation - that is, it takes much more than a new pair of leggings to keep you well behaved and going back to the gym after those first few times.

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Clothes have always been designed to appeal to our insecurities and expensive workout gear is no exception. We find ourselves buying into certain brands due to a want to fit in rather than get fit. Yet the difference between spending lots of money on your gym wardrobe and dressing up for the office or a night out is that the primary function of workout gear is to mop up perspiration. You are essentially paying good money for sweat rags.

This is why the very concept of shopping of gym clothes perplexes me, given your wardrobe spews out a plethora of options every time you do a clean out.

We say, eschew the cashmere-blend stretchy pants and cellulite-busting, 24-karat gold-plated leggings and stick to what's comfortable, clean and functional.

Whatever happened to throwing on your university sweatshirt and sweating in a pair of stretched-out Supré leggings?

Rest assured, they will go just fine with your broken capillaries and unwashed hair. It really needn't be such an expensive exercise.

- Daily Life


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