Go for the fun, funky, functional

Ditch the shape-less track pants and loose t-shirts for the new-age workout wear that makes you look hip even as you sweat it out

It is customary today to see the regular guy next door sporting six packs or a busy housewife jog in hot pants and tank top with a body that young starlets would kill for. Bulky track pants and jackets have given way to slinky shorts and more flexible tees and sweats. Halter necks, spaghettis and tube tops are soon replacing the regular workout attire.

Fabrics that breathe

woman exercises in lycraThe fabric used in workout wear nowadays is aerodynamic, lighter and better-fitted for the gym, track and the street. The lightweight and transparent fabric is breathe-easy and highly flexible, making it ideal for any sport no matter how extreme. All premium brands feature moisture-wicking fabrics, to enhance breathability with perforations and vents to allow for body heat to dissipate simultaneously as the person wearing those works out. Colours are more brilliant as lycra and other synthetic threads add lustre to the supple nature of the elastic.

Design sensibility

Modern workout wear incorporates all the necessities needed when working out while keeping the look hip. Renowned designers are being roped in by brands worldwide to bring together functionality and aesthetics in a way that will attract the discerning buyer.

Vintage looking stains and dirty looking splat marks are another trend in work out apparel, with typical street wear elements and vintage details instilled in the design. In addition to this modern photorealistic or computerised prints and embroidery are combined with zoomed up graphics and graffiti.

woman in bold coloursBold colours and even fluorescent colours are predominantly in vogue with sports superstars' faces on the fronts. Another trend that is picking up rapidly is metallics. Figure-hugging tees and tights in eye-watering metallics have taken over from the usual drab cottons. This trend not only makes the body look more appealing and sexy but also lends a very futuristic feel to any ensemble.

Comfort + style

Today's well-informed buyer wants to include elements like fun, funky and cool to his workout wear. Ergonomics, aerodynamics and an astute study of anatomy and the human movements is involved in creating some of the newer gear. Air flow is very important while working up a sweat and this is kept in mind to place strategic pockets and vents for convenience. The clean lines are inspired from the linear forms of muscles in the human anatomy to make silhouettes that actually sculpt themselves on the musculature therefore improving performance with the sheer comfort provided.

Lesser seams and stitching are now employed with some brands introducing seamless garments. The absence of seams and stitching allows for lesser discomfort and chaffing. These garments are constructed in one piece. Moulded comfort in fabric is what these garments aspire to bring you.

The wrap around or new draped designs too add more support and elasticity to the workout wear as they criss-cross over the body straddling the points where support is most required.

The right pick

Often, we get carried away with the sheer profusion of workout clothes that are available now at every mall and lose sight of what is appropriate for the form of exercise we choose to do. Each workout routine is exclusive and should be treated as such. Even when you do decide to go for funkier stuff, remember it should be in your size, allow you to move your arms, legs and head with ease.

For women, it is important to see that the garment affords ample support to the bust to prevent sagging; use proper sports bras. For men, the same stands true for the shorts. Proper support is important if one has to avoid injury or hernias. While swimming, make sure there is no buckle or strap that is restrictive as this could mean disaster if it stifles your movements while swimming. Also, swim only in swim suits or bathing trunks/briefs, as this is not only practical but also expected.

Leotards [a skin-hugging one-piece stretchable garment designed for both sexes that covers the torso and leaves the legs free] and unitards [a skin-hugging stretchable garment with long sleeves and legs designed for both sexes] that were extremely popular in the sixties have made a resounding come back and for a very good reason. These are appropriate both for yoga as well as Pilates, T'ai Chi and other such routines, which require maximum stretching. The one-piece garment allows you to stretch and bend in peace as the garment stays in place no matter what. Shorter tees and low-slung pants can cause unnecessary ward robe mal functions where none are wanted. There is no point in working out if you are self conscious of the gear. woman doing yoga in leotards

Always check for the weather before stepping out to work out. Dress accordingly to avoid being frozen or broiled. It is best to layer and de-layer rather than wear thicker fabrics if one is subjected to a variety of temperatures especially in air-conditioned gyms.

Dressing for yoga

Along with the rest of the workout apparel, yoga wear has also had its own upheaval. Gone are the kurtas and tracks, welcome snug, yet supple unitards and leotards with funky Batik prints in eco-friendly fabrics and dyes to boot. Many of these also sport spiritual imagery. Devnagri print in orange is quite the thing to wear. Hemp, jute and bamboo fabrics have joined the ranks of the traditional cottons and linens. Accessories like jute jholas and head gear to complete the look.

With so much variety and functionality available there's no excuse for you to get into your old exercise clothes. If you have to sweat when you work out, at least do it in style.

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Pria Agni
Pria Agni, a fashion stylist and prolific fashion journalist, holds a degree in Fine Arts from the JJ Institute of Arts, Mumbai. She has written for leading publications such as Times of India, Discover India, Marie Claire, Hi blitz, Mans world, cosmopolitan and Film fare. She has styled the entire cast for the runaway success feature film, Bheja Fry. Her latest styling assignment is an English short film, Linger, which stars Kunal Kapoor and which is in the final stages of editing for the international film festivals.

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