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Much like everyone else that suddenly found themselves with an extra few hours to spare in early 2020, I spent the first few months of quarantine working out every day. But after a while, switching from a class format to an at-home gym made me feel completely unmotivated. It’s hard to get excited to work out alone in your 375-square-foot studio apartment to a pre-recorded Zoom class for the six-dozenth time in three months, even if you’re doing it on FaceTime with a friend.
Eventually, I found a new way to motivate myself that felt familiar: retail therapy. Instead of spending an irresponsible amount of my paycheck on a new handbag or a pair of kitten heels to wear to meetings and dinner dates, I bought new workout clothes. And it worked.
If we’re being honest, I didn’t even unbox them as soon as they came — that’s how apathetic I felt about moving my body. But after a few weeks, I finally worked up the energy to try everything on, and my entire routine changed. Now, I (mostly) look forward to waking up and working out first thing in the morning — especially as gyms and fitness studios begin to open up.
Unlike the rest of my wardrobe, I don’t feel compelled to shop designer when it comes to activewear. Instead, I have a few tried-and-true brands that I turn to because they’re comfortable, durable and won’t pill after a few washes. Year of Ours, Lululemon, Alo Yoga and most of Bandier’s in-house labels like Le Ore and All Access are a few of my favorites. But I’ve also found that legacy brands like Nike, Champion and Adidas are reliable go-tos for everything from sports bras to sneakers.
Check out these workout essentials I’ve worn every single week for the last six or so months.
For the longest time, I never invested in workout tops or bras. Instead, I wore whatever old ratty tee I could find before running out of the house. Besides, even if I did have a cute bra on, it was likely covered by said ratty tee, because I didn’t often feel comfortable taking my shirt off. As it turns out, a good supportive workout bra is pretty much all you need when working out from home. For the times when I head to a class at the gym, a cute bra is great motivation, too. For something simple and no-frills, I love love Lululemon’s Free To Be Bra, which offers light to medium support. I typically wear it with Recess’s oversized tee. For outdoor hiking workouts where weather might be an issue, COS’s anorak is a great water-resistant option.
Shop: Lululemon Free To Be Bra, $48
Shop: Year Of Ours Ribbed Bra, $68
Shop: Recess Halfway There Tee, $22
Shop: Norba Crop Top In Ivory, $100
Shop: All Access Cropped Stretch Tee, $44
Shop: Le Ore Lucca Studio Bra, $58
Shop: Sport & Rich Hoodie, $150
Shop: P.E. Nation One-Shoulder Bra, $99
Shop: Champion Reverse Weave Cropped Crew, $88
Shop: COS Hooded Anorak, $115
I used to think I’d have to spend well into the three figures to find a pair of leggings that I truly loved, but it turns out most of my favorites hit under the $100 mark. While I’ll recommend Lululemon’s Align Pant to anyone that’ll listen, I also swear by my Alo Yoga Bike Shorts for warmer weather activities like hikes or outdoor runs. Smaller brands like Year of Ours and Live the Process also make some of my favorite pieces in fun fabrications: The former’s ribbed, tie-up legging is the workout separate I get the most compliments on, and Live the Process’s seamless-knit legging legitimately feels like silk.
Shop: Alo Yoga High-Waist Bike Shorts, $56
Shop: TnaLIFE™ Atmosphere Hi-Rise 7/8 Legging, $78
Shop: Lululemon Align Pant, $98
Shop: Gymshark Training Mesh Shorts, $25
Shop: Live The Process Ballet Legging, $188
Shop: Le Ore Crossover Legging, $88
Shop: Year of Ours Ribbed Football Legging, $114
Shop: Intimissimi Modal Leggings, $59
Now that I look forward to putting on my workout gear, I also stocked up on accessories for when I can’t make it to a class. My Bala Bangles, which are basically just fancy ankle weights, are a great addition to bodyweight workouts or long walks. My B Yoga mat is super-thick, too, so my downstairs neighbors aren’t distracted by mid-day jumping jacks.
Shop: Bala Bangles, $49
Shop: P.Volve 2-lb Hand Weights, $19.99
Shop: Gymshark Light Resistance Tubes, $12
Shop: BKR Water Bottle, $49
Shop: B Yoga B Mat Strong, $96
For me, the best workout sneakers are ones that you can also wear when you’re not working out. All of these picks, which I’ve worn at various points over the last six months, are core to my athleisure wardrobe. While I stick to the Nikes and New Balance sneakers for walking or running-heavy exercises, the Adidas Terrex sneakers are my go-to hiking shoes.
Shop: Nike White NikeCourt Lite 2 Sneakers, $90
Shop: Terrex AX3 Hiking Shoes, $80
Shop: Nike Air Max 270 React, $104.97
Shop: New Balance 624 Sneaker, $75.99
If you enjoyed this article, check out the 13 transitional weather pieces Lauren Caruso wears every year!
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