Updating your workout gear for the new year

Kristyn Schiavone
Tribune Content Agency

Similar to the way that gym memberships sell through the roof in January, I have to believe that gym clothes, by extension, also experience their best sales after New Year’s resolutions take hold.

Multiple studies have proven that looking the part results in a higher success rate. For example, medical students given white lab coats perform better than those wearing their regular clothes.

This, I believe, is also true of fitness. If your New Year’s resolution was to get in shape, I can all but guarantee you are not going to achieve that wearing a promotional T-shirt and your high school gym shorts.

Take me, for example. I lugged myself to the gym at 6 a.m. this morning, carrying my Northwestern Wildcats water bottle and my Trader Joe’s salad. I looked the part. (The record should state that I did not even eat that salad ... I got an offer for food truck chicken shawarma that was way more compelling.)

I’m not saying you should waste money on sad lunch salads. That’s on me. I AM saying that you’re more likely to want to go to the gym if you have new clothes to do it in.

And if you are among the other half of Americans without a particular interest in getting extra gym time, this column is also for you. Workout clothes are great for many other activities, from weekend shopping to gardening to cleaning to Netflix marathons.

Below are my top five myths about workout clothes, debunked.

1. You have to be an athlete to own nice gym clothes. In reality, gym clothes are great for so many occasions. You can wear them to the farmers’ market, to the movies, to do your weekend grocery shopping or to your girls’ night when none of you feel like leaving the house on Saturday. While holey sweatpants are not standard fare for anything that involves you seeing other people, a pair of workout leggings and an athletic long-sleeved tee is totally acceptable.

2. “Cute workout clothes” means Lululemon, and that’s more than you spend on your work clothes. Listen, I love Lululemon, but there are so many other great brands out there for gals on a budget.

In terms of performance, some of these surpass more expensive brands, and you can find cute pieces far and wide as workout clothes become more ubiquitous. I’m currently loving Under Armour. You can get the latest trends -- leggings with mesh panels or tops that tie in the back -- for about half the price of more upscale brands. Also, one of my friends says the pants have a great “high and tight” factor, and I tend to agree.

3. If you’re not running outside, you have no use for long sleeves or anything fleece-lined. On the contrary, pieces like the half-zip are crucial. They ensure you can wear your athletic clothes without having to sweat bullets to stay warm, and if you’re one of the lucky few actually making it to the gym in the morning, get in the habit of rolling out of bed and immediately putting it on. It makes it seem less cold, dark and daunting outside.

4. This is a great time to buy colors you would never wear normally. That’s true to some extent, and I love bright workout gear. But if you’re trying out workout clothes for non-workout occasions, you’re more likely to get your money’s worth out of pieces in hues similar to those in your regular wardrobe.

5. Athletic gear is always tight, and therefore unflattering. I don’t care if you’ve never set foot in a gym in your life. If you want to wear form-fitting Spandex, go for it. If you prefer something looser, there’s plenty of that, too, and you can always size up. There’s no shame in buying a size larger than your normal size if that’s the fit you prefer.