Fitness fashion

Sara Smith knows workout wear. The kinesiology grad and head trainer at OrangeTheory Fitness admits to having over a dozen pairs of runners.

“I basically live in workout gear,” she said with a laugh.

When I wanted advice on the best exercise clothing, I knew who to ask.

As a professional trained in physical movement, Smith is an expert on what to wear for different types of activity.

For running, cycling and any training involving heavy leg movements, she recommends compression leggings. The squeezing action in such tights helps prevent swelling in legs that occurs due to increased blood flow to the muscles and provides core stability.

Leggings can feel warmer than shorts, so look for sweat-wicking fabrics and mesh panels that will allow heat to vent.

Smith recommends Lorna Jane brand for great workout tights.

“They’re pricey, but worth it and last forever.”

Spiritual Gangster is another brand that makes super-soft wear for yoga, and Alo creates stylish leggings that look good outside the gym.

One of the most important pieces of workout wear for women is a good supportive bra, especially for those doing high-impact activities.

Smith, who just ran her first marathon, swears by the Juno bra made by Brooks. Even for women with D-cups and up, the Juno keeps everything in place.

“I’m a big advocate of the jump test,” she says. “Literally jump up and down in the fitting room when trying on a bra and see what happens.”

Save the cute strappy bras for lighter activities such as yoga or weight training.

Good shoes are another essential component of your workout wardrobe.

For cross training and other gym-based routines, you want a shoe with a lower profile that gives you more stability on the floor. Meanwhile for higher impact exercise, focus on cushioning. 

If you have wider feet, check out styles by Brooks and New Balance that make runners up to D width.

When shopping, Smith recommends talking to staff at the store to get suggestions on fit and do some laps to tell what feels best.

“And do a first test run on a treadmill so you can return the shoes if they aren’t right.”

Smith also notes it’s surprising the difference that good socks can make. Long distance runners should invest in pairs that have a thicker patch on the ball of the foot.

“It sucks to pay $20 for socks,” Smith laughs. “But I’d much rather have fewer pairs and wash them more often than use cheap pairs.”

She loves Stance brand for their quality and funky prints. 

Anyone who experiences calf pain and swelling should consider compression socks.

As cooler weather approaches, Smith has tips to help you keep enjoying outdoor pursuits. 

The body thermo-regulates by releasing heat from the feet, head, and armpits. So look for jackets with venting under the arms and wear an headband that keeps your ears warm instead of a hat.

Merino wool has unique thermo-regulation properties and makes for great base layers, including socks. Smartwool and Icebreaker are two brands to check out. 

“And the great thing about merino wool is that it is naturally antibacterial and doesn’t get stinky,” Smith says. “So it’s also excellent for long camping trips.”

All clothing mentioned in this column is available at the locally-owned Play store in Spall Plaza.


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About the Author

Marla is best known for her 19-year career in the local charitable sector as a fund development and marketing manager with the Okanagan Regional Library, United Way, UBC Okanagan, and Kelowna Community Resources. 

In 2014, Marla and her husband decided to take a break from the work world, and, four years, later they are still enjoying Okanagan summers, winters in Mexico, and extensive travel. 

Marla has had a life-long passion for fashion, designing her own graduation dress and formal gown for the 1990 Miss Interior competition before age 20.

In 2014, she was named one of nine Style Ambassadors for a year-long marketing campaign at Orchard Park Mall. Her motto is “Life is short...you might as well go through it looking good."

If you have a style question or topic you’d like Marla to cover in this column, contact her at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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