May 15, 2020 | Scott Mazza

Activewear Essentials That Will Make You Want To Hit The Gym

There’s nothing worse than making time for a workout only to start moving and realize that your activewear just isn’t going to cut it. An ill-fitting bra can transform a high-powered aerobics class into an unwieldy boob-pocalypse. A sagging waistline can interrupt a yoga flow with constant readjustments. The wrong workout gear can trigger insecurities and make exercise The Worst. Plus, activewear can easily cost between $50 and $150 for a single garment, so there’s even more motivation to do your research before making a purchase.

With so many options on the market, just buying workout clothes feels exhausting, never mind an actual trip to the gym. This is where we come in: We scoured the web for the best activewear brands available. They’re all affordable and comfortable, and some are even eco-conscious. Get ready to get physical: Here’s the best exercise gear on the market.

Activewear Editorial

Old Navy: For Tried and True Basics

Old Navy’s activewear doesn’t get as much love as it deserves. With inclusive sizing all the way from XS to XXL, their Elevate leggings provide just the right amount of stretch and structure, and come in enough sizes, rises, lengths, patterns, and colors to satisfy just about every gym-goer on the planet. If you’re in the market for a new pair of go-to leggings, over 1700 happy customers will point you to the brand’s high-waist Elevate legging with stylish mesh inserts.

I can vouch for these leggings personally. The mesh is strong without being rigid, the high waist provides tummy control, and the fabric is opaque enough that I don’t need to worry about exposing my assets to strangers at the gym. And, hot tip: the solid black option of this legging is incredibly versatile. It can get you through a sweaty workout session, coffee with a friend, or channeling that SNL sketch and bingeing The Good Wife on your couch. Hey, all great athletes need to rest their muscles.

Activewear EssentialsShutterstock

Girlfriend Collective: For the Trendy Gym Bunny

Girlfriend Collective’s cute, contemporary activewear comes from a surprising source: garbage. Really! The eco-conscious company’s leggings and bras integrate recycled polyester and plastic bottles, helping to reduce waste and prove you don’t have to sacrifice style for sustainability. The brand’s diverse models look gorgeous as they show off Girlfriend Collective’s impressive XXS-6XL size range, which also features maternity wear. And you know athletic gear is stylish when even freaking Vogue is a fan.

Best of all, Girlfriend Collective’s garments are an absolute steal compared to most slow fashion brands. Sports bras cost about $35, shorts are in the $40 range, and leggings go for between $60-$80. But the brand’s most loved item might be the Paloma bra. It costs under $40 and has stacked up 2,200+ five-star reviews. That’s pretty impressive.

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H&M: For Inexpensive Essentials

When it comes to affordability and variety, H&M has your back. Their activewear features versatile basics, eco-friendly items from their Conscious collection, and maternity wear (including a nursing sports bra). As always, H&M favors trend-forward clothing, so if you want to be sweaty, but make it fashion, they’re the place to check out. Plus, their exercise gear is super-affordable, with most items costing under $50.

H&M’s constantly changing collections make it difficult to find a piece unless it’s currently in season (it’s called fast fashion for a reason, people), but that said, customers are obsessed with the brand’s High Waist Shaping Tights. The stretchy, soft material fits snugly and lifts all the right areas, while the contemporary dusty rose and muted green tones are perfect for 2020.

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Uniqlo Heattech: For the Cold Weather Warrior

Uniqlo’s Heattech collection is what would happen if fashion and science had a baby. The fabric uses Japanese technology to convert its wearer’s moisture into heat. With three levels of warming (regular, extra warm, and ultra-warm), Heattech tops and leggings are essential for athletes dealing with colder climates. We recommend the Extra Warm level for its opacity, structure, and, of course, coziness. Plus, they’re an absolute bargain at just $15-$20 per pair. We’ll take two!

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Outdoor Voices: For the Eco-Conscious Exerciser

Outdoor Voices is the trendy new athleisure brand on the block. The eco-conscious brand makes sustainability look and feel great. They offer a contemporary yet classic color palette, chic tailoring, and reasonable prices for high-quality fabrics. YouTube influencer Estée Lalonde is a big fan of their crop tops and leggings. Recently, pop star Lizzo rocked an emerald green unitard.

The fact that Outdoor Voices can count petite Lalonde and proudly plus-size Lizzo among its fans is a testament to the brand’s inclusive sizing. Curvy ladies praise their leggings and unitards, noting that even though the largest size offered is an XL, it comfortably fits a US size 16. The site also features a ton of detailed reviews and helpful guides so you can confidently buy the right size. Plus, the prices are fair, especially for sustainable fashion. Crop tops and bras set you back $45-$65 and leggings go for about $75.

Activewear EssentialsShutterstock

Although it looks like Outdoor Voices is discontinuing their beloved Merino line, there is a silver lining to this cloud: The regular price of this adorable tee is normally $55, but it’s currently on sale for just $25. The high-quality wool blend is lightweight yet durable, with the added bonus of being ethically sourced. It provides much-needed sweat-wicking during those intense exercise sessions. Plus, that peach color is so fresh and cute—just the kind of zip that’ll get you pumped for a jog.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

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