Plus size athletic clothing has been a fraught topic. Chided for needing to be active yet being unable to find appropriate work out clothing was a frustrating catch-22 for many plus-size workout devotees. We ended up in sweats and oversize T-shirts more often than not. As a plus size woman who's been going to the gym for nearly 20 years, I have seen it, I have been there myself and I viscerally understand the frustration.
Happily, this has all changed in the last few years! Body positivity and size inclusivity is a growing movement that has spread to many areas of fitness as well as to many reputable retailers. Plus-size shoppers can now find pretty much any clothes for working out they want! However, because of the unfortunate history of plus size athletic wear, you may still have questions about what the best plus size clothes for working out really are. What types of clothing are suited for what activity? What are the latest features and styles to look for? We're here to help guide you through plus size athletic clothes and make getting dressed for working out just as satisfying as the workout itself!
Most athletic clothing is good for a variety of activities. Your yoga pants won't report you for wearing them on the treadmill, and plus size compression leggings you like for lifting will work great for jogging. What you will need to consider, though, is that you have something that suits your needs for whatever type of workout you do most often. If your favorite workout is swimming, like mine, stock up on high-quality basic tank suits for the pool, and find them in chlorine-resistant fabric if you want them to last a long time. You might need one pair of joggers for when you decide to hit the trail or treadmill, but a closet full of running clothes makes no sense. If you do weight training for its cardio and musculoskeletal benefits, compression leggings or performance shorts are a must, though you'll want some sweatshirts to wear into the gym before you're warmed up. If you're just beginning your work out journey, search the web, ask around or consult a trainer as to what will be the most comfortable for the activities you want to pursue. Most experienced gym-goers or instructors are thrilled to help newcomers and you'll find them very supportive.
Let's say you have just invested in great walking shoes and plan to hit the local trails for lots of outdoor cardio that will be just as good for your mind as your body. Did you purchase a sports bra? Working up a sweat in your everyday lingerie will wear it out faster than drying it in the dryer! Protect expensive lingerie by not wearing it when your goal is to sweat. Did you get a performance fabric T-shirt so that you will stay dry and cool while you're walking or hiking? Moisture-wicking fabric is a must if you plan on doing heavy activity. Did you choose an appropriate topper, such as a lightweight insulated jacket or performance fabric half-zip to wear until you get warmed up or if there's a change in the weather? These are things to think about. I mentioned that I like to swim for my exercise; I walked around in a towel like a little kid at the pool concession stand for several years before I figured out that I would be more comfortable and more appropriate if I slipped on swim capris or plus size swim shorts to walk around the pool area. Consider the changes in what's available and strive to make yourself as comfortable as possible.
Certain features generally available in active wear are especially important to plus-size shoppers, because we are prone to particular challenges that straight-size shoppers may not need to consider. For example, larger bodies are often more susceptible to chafing, because we have more areas where our skin might rest against skin. Performance fabric helps keep the wearer dry, and that is vital for a plus-size person. Flatlock seams are another anti-chafing feature commonly available in active wear, but are doubly important to a plus-size shopper. If your clothing hurts you, you won't want to wear it. Perhaps you want to jog; look for compression leggings or plus size joggers with secure pockets, and a place to put your phone if you want to listen to music. Those mp3 armbands would never work for me with my large, soft upper arms, and I am thrilled to have a phone pocket built into the leggings I wear when I walk in the woods. What are the specific features you might need for your particular body type or emotional comfort? Think about them when you select workout wear.
Are you taking a belly dance class or an aerial silks class and every single person is wearing a belly shirt or a body suit? So should you! Are you interested in hot yoga and everyone wears booty shorts and a sports bra? So should you! Plus-size people have felt, or actually been, chased off of activities by the required clothing (or lack thereof) for too long. As our society shifts in acceptance, we urge you to shift in acceptance, too, and wear whatever is appropriate to whatever activity you want to pursue, even if it exposes an area of skin you don't usually let out from undercover. You're going to the gym, not the opera, and showing a sliver of tummy or your arms or your legs above the knee is a normal and accepted thing at the gym. Besides, people aren't thinking about you; they're thinking about themselves. Understanding that is a great freedom, especially in situations where you may be making yourself vulnerable, such as trying a new machine at the gym.
The best plus size clothes for working out are the ones that inspire you to put them on and get active! Actually getting dressed in your athletic clothing and moving your body is the point, so if cute active wear helps you do that, by all means pick out some cute active wear! After you consider the type of clothing you need, what features are meaningful or necessary to you, and what is appropriate to the activity you want to pursue, selecting workout gear is all about what makes you feel good. Happily, plus-size shoppers now have almost as wide a selection as straight-sized shoppers when it comes to work out wear! Anything you want to do, you can find attractive, appropriate and functional pieces to wear while you do it; get out there and have an active good time!