Gym slips

COOL RUNNINGS: Nike sportswear is available from Shoe Clinic Nelson.
COOL RUNNINGS: Nike sportswear is available from Shoe Clinic Nelson.

Us Kiwis love sports. We love to watch sport, read about sport, talk about sport, play sport . . . got the message? We're a sport-mad nation.

But when it comes to looking the part, the days when grey marl trackies and an old ripped baggy T-shirt were acceptable are long gone. Biff them – you probably got that T-shirt free with a box of beer in 1995 anyway.

Now, sports fashion has finally smacked us in the face and we are starting to look trendy while we work out. Well, righto sportos, without getting too specific by looking into niche sportswear, I am going to look back to what was sportswear, to where we are heading and take a brief look into the "art" that is now sports fashion.

Before we understand sports fashion we must first look at where it came from – ladies, fancy a game of tennis in the blistering sun? Well put on your rigid straw-brimmed hat, tight suffocating sleeved jacket with corset and heavy skirt . . . uh, no thanks!

Well, that's how it was. Women wore long skirts and restrictive clothing to play sport until 1910, and in 1922 Suzanne Lenglen shocked the world when she dressed for tennis at Wimbledon wearing a short skirt, abandoned the hat and caused a stir with her hair bandeau, designed to enable her to actually see what was going on.

Heavy fabrics made from scratchy wool was just a given back-in-the-day. It is hard to imagine by our standards.

I mean, a girl runs by my house every morning in what seems to be her undies and bra – unbelievable the transformation of modesty.

Nowadays, textile geniuses are looking at making fibres that breath more, evaporate sweat quicker and keep us dry and cool; yet are still light and aerodynamic.

Sportswear designers are looking at the physics of how people move, to ergonomically enhance our ability to perform and some designs are so advanced I am surprised they don't take themselves off and wrap themselves around your waist when you start to feel self-conscious about your thuttocks (yes you know, that's the extra bit of bottom under the normal bottom).

Along with other technical advances in the world, textile science is changing dramatically. There is already production of low-cost jackets for joggers and walkers with a pulse monitor stitched to the left cuff.

Embedded sensors control conductive material on the back of the jacket to keep the wearer warm should the temperature drop, while electroluminescent wires are fixed to pockets and hems to light up in the dark as a safety feature.

It is just a matter of time before we start seeing joggers running down the road flashing in all sorts of techno colours which is perfectly in-sync to the music playing from their iPod. If that happens, I might actually be motivated to go for a run.

What should we be wearing as we sweat and push ourselves to reach our personal goals?

Technically advanced knit fabrics are key, they draw moisture away from the body and disperse it throughout the fabric, increasing the surface area of the moisture, thus evaporating it quicker and keeping you drier.

Lots of big brands will give these types of fabrics different names such as Nikes' Dri Fit or Adidas' Clima Cool.

As for the style – tight is in. I know some women might be going argh but although tight, lots of thought has gone into the design. There are lots of panel lines that shape and mould a women's figure, as well as giving us some support for those wobbly bits.

Fluorescent colour is the now! Wear dark colours beneath so you can match all your different bright tops and jackets with them – bright turquoise, coral, pink and neon yellow are all pulsing life to previously drab gymwear.

These colours are matched in the latest joggers. There are so many colours in the stores it is unbelievable.

It is in fact how good we look as we work-out at the gym that is important. If you look good, you feel good.

Hey, that new set of gymwear and some new season trainers may be just what you need to motivate you to do some exercise on those brisk evenings. As a champion runner once told me, "The hardest part about going for a run is putting your shoes on".