Going to the gym and providing yourself with a healthy and active lifestyle is one of the simplest and most rewarding things you can do for yourself. Getting started can often be challenging and confusing. Let’s discuss some of the basics.
A base layer is what you wear as your initial layer. This can be broken out to tanks, cutoffs, short or long sleeve shirts. Each of these are offered as a compression garment as well (benefits of compression gear are discussed in GYM BASICS PART I: TECHNOLOGY).
Ventilated Nike Dri-Fit Base Layer
There’s no right or wrong base layer. It all comes down to personal preference and weather conditions. For the runners or those who sweat a lot, look for a base layer that offers some moisture-wicking component and high ventilation. 100% cotton tops will absorb and retain the sweat for a much longer period of time than a dri-fit shirt.
You may find yourself in need of an additional layer for warmth during early mornings and/or colder seasons – your workout should not be compromised as a result. Depending on the physical activity and purpose, any of the following secondary layers may be appropriate.
Track Jacket: Thicker than other secondary layers, a track jacket is intended to keep the body warm before and/or after the workout. This may be a good solution for getting you to and from the gym.
Windbreaker: Intended to shield the body from wind chill and light rain. Keep in mind, a windbreaker is slightly water repellent, so it does not offer as much ventilation or “breath-ability”. This secondary layer is extremely lightweight which makes it perfect for travel or when you need to pack light.
Pullovers: Pullovers are an easy way to add warmth through an additional layer without losing mobility. Intended to be worn during the workout. Of course, it can be removed at any time once your workout begins and you’ve worked up your body temperature.
Running Shorts: Running shorts are designed for long distance running where chafing can be an issue. These shorts are made out of lightweight fabric such a polyester or nylon and may have built-in underwear lining to reduce chafing on longer runs. Additional underwear should not be worn.
Training Shorts: Known to be all purpose and will vary in style, length, and material. I personally prefer something more slim fitting with a 9” inseam to limit excess fabric getting in the way of my workout. Tip: a spandex or elastane fabric blend allows the shorts to stretch without tear!
Sport-specific Shorts: These shorts for basketball, football, soccer, golf, etc. are designed with the specific sport in mind, including what is fashionable within the respective sport.
When choosing to wear long pants at the gym, fit is paramount. Not only does this allow for cleaner aesthetics overall, but also eliminates unnecessary weight and fabric when exercising. The additional length provides warmth for colder days, coverage when performing movements that would otherwise cause shorts to ride up, and protection against accidental scrapes.
Tights: Although historically reserved for females, we have more recently witnessed a trend in tights for men at the gym. While often serving as a way to be more fashionable, tights are also beneficial in a number of ways; by providing compression (discussed in Gym Basics Part I : Technology), additional warmth, coverage, and protection. Due to its form fitting nature, I suggest wearing a pair of shorts over these for those around you.
Socks: Athletic socks provide support, comfort and protection for your feet. Opt for a synthetic fabric blend as it allows for two things. 1) moisture wicking to keep feet dry and 2) durability.