Don't get me wrong. I started out with nothing but a pair of stretchy capri pants, an awesome pair of shoes, and my lungs. You don't HAVE to have "gear" but it sure helps make your exercising much more enjoyable. It takes your mind off of your underoos falling down, the blisters developing on your heels, the bra strap that inevitably falls down every time you start to get your focus, your hair that's in your face and mouth, and the possibility of two black eyes. My chosen activity right now is running but I think most of this gear that I am about to discuss is pretty universal. Here are my top picks for workout "gear:"
1. A great pair of shoes. First and foremost and oh so important - shoes...good shoes. Don't go grabbing some old jalopy, stinky pair in the back of your closet. Your barking dogs will give you an earful the next morning. I used to think that buying shoes specific for an activity was dumb - just a way for shoe manufacturers to jack up the price. But alas, I might be slightly mistaken. I still think a good pair of shoes costs way too much but in the end they are well worth the investment. Last Christmas I went to a place in Carmel called Blue Mile. They specialize in fitting you for the right kind of shoe - specific to the kind of exercise you're in to. They even video tape you running or walking on a treadmill and then slow down the recording to see how you naturally step (it has a fancy name - "video gait analysis"). It gives them an idea of how much and what kind of support your shoe will need. It's pretty interesting really. I got a fabulous pair of kicks that fit better than any other shoes I've had. No achey feet in the morning anymore. I think I will go back this year and get some shoes specifically for running since the pair I have are mostly for walking. The whole shebang cost me about $90. My feet thank me everyday. Essential.
2. Nice socks. Going along with the whole foot thing...get a good pair of socks. Again something I used to roll my eyes at...but if you are blister-prone...this is a good upgrade. I got some socks at the same store that are like Heaven on my feet. They don't slip and they really add cushion in all the right places. Very nice. Plus they keep your feet dry. I need to get some more. The ones I bought have a band that wraps both sides of the heel and are made by a company called Balega. They're seriously great - like a foot hug. You can check out their site here: www.balega.com
3. A good sports bra. This is something I resisted for a long time - mostly because I didn't really think there was anything out there that would lock and load like I needed it to. Next to going to a blacksmith and having some kind of metal suit forged I thought I was S.O.L. Once again...wrong. I researched and looked and researched some more and finally settled on trying a bra by Under Armor. I will post the link and you will see that this puppy just looks bad to the bone. No movement is coming outta that straight jacket! I got it early last week and to be completely honest it took me a good 15 minutes to figure out how to put it on (thank goodness I've been doing yoga - phew!), but I love it! It fits great and the straps stay up and now I can save money on under eye make-up. Thank you Under Armor! If you want any specifics about sizing...let me know. I wasn't sure it would fit at first but it fits great! Here is the link: Under Armor workout gear
4. A headband. I got this one down. I may look like a biker mama running down the street but no wispy hair is getting in MY eyes! I bought a semi-stylish cloth head wrap at Tar-get (said with a French accent) that I decided could also double as a keep-my-stinkin-hair-outta-my-face device when I am working out. It is completely functional - and in my opinion necessary...unless you are a man...or bald (which in that case - sorry).
5. Pants with underwear built in. I am not sure what the correct name is for such a thing, but last winter I bought a pair of adidas workout pants that had underwear built into them. I thought it was strange at the time, but now I know why there is such a beast. Nothing is more annoying and workout sabotaging than underwear creep. It can creep both ways...it can fall down and tick you off and it can creep up and irritate you (in more than one kind of way). Anyhoo...it is really nice to have that freedom to just slap on some workout pants and not worry about slippage.
Those are my current top 5 picks. I am sure the more I run the more I will long for other items. Right now I am happy with just using my cell phone as a stopwatch and I don't run long enough to need one of those water backpack thingees...but maybe someday. Until then...race you to the stop sign! Ready, set, GO!
*I am not being paid to endorse any of these products although I sure wish I was! ;-)