If you happen to be anything like me, you start thinking about what you're going to wear about three seconds after making plans to do anything. Lunch with a girlfriend? Definitely wearing the dark jeans. Staff meeting at the office? Sounds like a turquoise blouse day to me! But all of the capris, wedge sandals and strappy tank tops in the universe won't do you any good as you stand in front of the doors to a whole separate world, where the common understanding of what is and isn't fashionable, practical or acceptable are completely useless as you prepare to enter the world of the gym.
Once you walk through those doors, you enter a vortex of Nike-pro gear, ripped-up t-shirts, weird gloves, strange belts, neon colored sports bras, strange shoes with individual toes and...are those argyle knee socks?! Yes. Even argyle knee socks. Going to the gym can be daunting enough without the added variable of "What on earth am I supposed to wear here?"
The answer is pretty simple. Wear what makes you comfortable. Wear whatever you want. Not specific enough? Here are a few guidelines:
If it gets in the way of your ability to move...don't wear it.
Pants and tops that are too tight and restrict your range of motion will make your workout harder than it has to be, and I think we can all agree that working out is challenging enough without your wardrobe adding to the task.
If it's heavy, thick, or a non-breathable material...don't wear it.
Heavy sweatshirts and blue jeans have no place in a gym environment. Think about it this way: if you don't think you would be able to move very well if your outfit were to become soaking wet, it's probably not what you want to be wearing for your workout.
What about shoes?
Keep it simple...some sort of tennis shoe or running sneaker is all you need. Sandals, flip-flops, open-toed shoes, or shoes with no grip are dangerous in a gym environment. No matter how comfortable they are, your chances of injuring yourself in the gym skyrocket if you workout in the wrong type of shoe.
When it comes to gym accessories, think about your goals.
Is your gym outfit functional for what you what to achieve? If your goal is to do a 300-pound deadlift, then that big ol' lifting belt you're wearing is perfect. If, however, your goal is to finally master 45 straight minutes on the StairMaster, then the lifting belt isn't for you!
Colors, colors everywhere!
The upward trend in neon gym attire is fun! It's almost impossible to walk into the Active Wear section of any department store these days without being accosted by bright pink sports bras, lime green socks and neon blue capris. Working out in bright colors can add a dimension of fun and spunk that makes working out more enjoyable. However, if you're new to the gym and would prefer not to draw attention to yourself until you're more comfortable, or if neon just isn't your "thing"--don't feel at all obligated to fill your closet with bright orange and purple tank tops. Like parachute pants and Uggs, some trends just aren't for everybody, and that's OK.
Wear what you want. Wear what makes you comfortable. Don't sweat the small stuff, or worry about specific equipment or accessories until you've started honing in on specific goals. Remember that the most important thing about being at the gym is that you're there, and with every single workout, you're one step closer to looking even more fabulous in all of your clothes than you already do. Remember, too, that no matter what you're wearing, a healthy lifestyle is the most attractive thing in anyone's closet!
Dani Russell is a freelance health and fitness lifestyle writer living in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is currently working to complete a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology and is a practicing student therapist. In her free time she can be found playing in the ocean, hiking and weightlifting. You can keep up with her daily quest to balance multiple jobs, fitness and graduate school via her tumblr.