Tools To emPOWER You – Part III – Wear It Well

29 Jun
Marahon shoes

Marahon shoes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wear It Well

Experts think that what you wear can boost your confidence and as a result, improve your performance. According to a Northwestern University study, when people wore doctors’ coats before a visual task, they paid more attention than those wearing painters’ coats.  “Clothes hold a strange power over the wearers,” say the researchers.  In other words: Dressing like you’re already successful can be a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Workout clothes are important elements that make a huge difference in your workout, helping us to exercise better and longer.  Imagine yourself exercising wearing a pair of jeans.  Not only do they limit your range of motion, but after a few minutes of exercising you will be sweaty and lacking the energy to exercise further. Therefore, it is very important that before you start any exercise program you have some decent workout clothes to help you exercise efficiently.

What To Look For

Look for athletic wear that is designed for the specific sport you intend to do.  If you play tennis, choose tennis wear and if you are a runner, opt for sports apparel designed for running.  Although you can sometimes wear the same type of clothing for different sports, it is best to choose sport-specific wear because different sports require distinct body movements and performance.  Pay attention to the correct fit and size.  When it comes to fabric, choose high-performance fabrics that wick away sweat to increase comfort and lessen chafing.  The best sports clothing is designed for comfort, protection, flexibility, durability and optimum performance.  Oh, and don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen when outdoors.

Ideal Fabric for Workout

Usually what happens is when we go shopping for some good gym workout clothes, these clothes turn out to be very expensive, especially the ones which are designer made or those with special designs and fabrics. When you look for workout clothes, check the tag for the fabric makeup.  Ideally the fabric will let your body breath and fit you well.

The two most commonly used fabrics in exercising clothes are cotton or synthetic material like polyester. Though cotton made workout clothes are excellent, especially in summers, the only disadvantage is that they collect moisture and don’t allow the skin to breathe as effectively as clothes made of other synthetic materials. This means that you will be soaked during the entire workout wearing cotton made workout clothes and since cotton shrinks these clothes are not very useful for long, regular and strenuous workouts.

A better fabric option is polyester which is light in weight and breathable. It is soft, quick drying and resists shrinking and stretching.  Nylon and spandex, used alone or blended together, are good when it comes to exercise clothes. They are also light in weight, strong, quick drying and affordable too.


Proper-fitting sports shoes can enhance performance and prevent injuries. Follow these specially-designed fitting facts when purchasing a new pair of athletic shoes.

  • Don’t go just by size.  Have your feet measured.
  • Try on athletic shoes after a workout or run and at the end of the day. Your feet will be at their largest.
  • If you have bunions or hammertoes, find a shoe with a wide toe box.  You should be able to fully extend your toes when you’re standing and shoes should be comfortable from the moment you put them on. They will not stretch out.  Women who have big or wide feet should consider buying men’s or boys’ shoes which are cut wider for the same length.
  • Wear the sock you normally wear when working out.
  • Fit the shoe to the largest foot.
  • Make sure the shoe provides at least one thumb’s breadth of space from the longest toe to the end of the toe box.
  • When the shoe is on your foot, you should be able to freely wiggle all of your toes.
  • The shoes should be comfortable as soon as you try them on.  There is no break-in period.
  • Walk or run a few steps in your shoes.  They should be comfortable.
  • Always relace the shoes you are trying on.  You should begin at the farthest eyelets and apply even pressure as you a crisscross lacing pattern to the top of the shoe.
  • There should be a firm grip of the shoe to your heel.  Your heel should not slip as you walk or run.
  • If you participate in a sport three or more times a week, you need a sports specific shoe.
  • It can be hard to choose from the many different types of athletic shoes available.  There are differences in design and variations in material and weight.  These differences have been developed to protect the areas of the feet that encounter the most stress in a particular athletic activity.

Running Shoes

Joggers should wear a shoe with more cushioning impact.  Running shoes are designed to provide maximum overall shock absorption for the foot.  Such a shoe should also have good heel control.  Although not a cure-all, these qualities in a running/sports shoe help to prevent shin splints, tendinitis, heel pain, stress fractures and other overuse syndromes.

 Walking Shoes

If walking is your sport or your doctor’s recommendation for cardiovascular conditioning, wear a lightweight shoe. Look for extra shock absorption in the heel of the shoe and especially under the ball of the foot (the metatarsal area).  This will help reduce heel pain (plantar fasciitis and pump bumps) as well as burning and tenderness in the ball of the foot (metatarsalgia).  A shoe with a slightly rounded sole or “rocker bottom” also helps to smoothly shift weight from the heel to the toes while decreasing the forces across the foot.  Walking shoes have more rigidity in the front so you can roll off your toes rather than bend through them as you do with running shoes.

Aerobic Shoes

Shoes for aerobic conditioning should be lightweight to prevent foot fatigue and have extra shock absorption in the sole beneath the ball of the foot (metatarsal area) where the most stress occurs. If possible, work out on a carpet.

Cross Trainers

Cross-training shoes combine several of the above features so that you can participate in more than one sport. A good cross trainer should have the flexibility in the forefoot you need for running combined with the lateral control necessary for aerobics or tennis.

Taking Care of The Girls

Believe it or not, just any old sports bra won’t supply the support you need to prevent sagging, stretching or pain related to exercise.  One size certainly doesn’t fit all.

Studies have shown that between 70% and 80% of women are wearing the wrong size sports bra, and therefore, they may not be getting the benefits of support and comfort from their fitness wardrobe.  Measuring can save you lots of time and aggravation when choosing the right bra.

Below are the steps to take your own measurements.

  • Use a tailor’s tape or cloth measuring tape when taking your measurements.
  • Stand up straight, preferably in front of a mirror.
  • Wear a normal (non-padded) bra, not a sports bra, when taking your measurements.
  • Find your bust measurement. Measure the fullest part of your chest by loosely wrapping the tape measure around your chest, making sure the tape is straight in the back and front. Once you get a number, round to the nearest whole number to get your bust measurement. (For example, if your bust measured 38.5 inches, round that up to 39 inches.)
  • Find your band measurement. Measure your ribcage just under your breasts, making sure the tape is snug (not tight) and not lower in the back than in the front. To get obtain your band measurement, take the actual number of your ribcage measurement and add 3 inches. If this number is odd, you need to add 1 inch to make it an even number. (For example, if your band measured 32 inches, you’d add 3 to get 35 inches; because it’s an odd number, you’d add a 1 to get 36 inches.)
  • Find your cup size. Subtract your band measurement (step 5) from your bust measurement (step 4). Use the chart below to determine which letter is your cup size. (Using the same example above, you’d subtract 39-36 to get 3 inches, which is a C cup, according to the chart.)

Bust – Band difference

Cup Size












DD or E





  • Put your band size with your cup size and you have your bra size. (In this example, the bra size is 36C.)

Next comes style. There are three basic sports bra construction styles:

Compression Sports Bras (the one piece style that you pull on over your head) are by far the most popular sports bra construction.  This bra compresses both breasts against your chest allowing for minimal or no-bounce movement.  This style is most suited for women with small to medium sized breasts (A-B cups).

Encapsulated or Natural-Shaping Sports Bras are best suited for larger breasted women, usually a C-cup or larger.  These bras look more like a normal bra with fasteners in the front or back, and may come with or without the underwire.  This style encapsulates each breast in an individual cup instead of compressing both breasts together as in the previous example.  The encapsulated sports bra is the best choice for larger-breasted women (C-cup and up) or plus sized women.

Compression/Encapsulation Sports Bras are a combination of the previous two bras.  They encapsulate each breast and compress the breast tissue against the chest.  They can be pulled over the head or closed with fasteners.  This style is ideal for women with medium to large breasts, usually C through DD cups.



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