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GL's changing room workout: How to make sure your gear really works

Raise your hand if you've ever hit the store for a new bra or pair of running shoes, slipped 'em on quickly and then handed over your hard-earned bucks...only to get home, suit up for a sweat sesh and realize 20 minutes in (and two miles from home) that your bra is barely working and your shoes pinch? Yeah, our hands are stretched sky-high, too. Here's how to avoid the mid-workout "doh" moment with your new togs...

Step one: Ask around
Even if you ignore the advice you receive, it's helpful to ask your buds, coaches and those friendly sales people at the store which brands and pieces they recommend for different activities. This is particularly helpful when you're just getting into a new exercise groove and have no idea where to start your shopping mission.
Step two: Be honest about your budget
Come on, we know you have one. If you head to the store, snag a sales rep and say, "I'm looking for a pair of cleats, and I have $50 to spend," they'll point you to the best shoe for your price point. The same goes with everything from leotards to warm-up suits. In the same light, sometimes it makes sense to splurge on certain items (like really good socks--trust us) and go cheap on others (think: running shorts). Consider shuffling around those dollars and cents 'til you get the best bang for your buck.
Step three: Try on everything
And babes, we mean everything. It doesn't matter if you're a size eight in jeans--try a six and ten, or a medium and a large, in yoga pants to make sure you're getting the right fit. And remember, sizes vary widely between brands, so don't think a small Nike tank will be cut the same as a Champion one, even if they look identical.
Step four: Be flexible
Yeah, heart print spandex is adorable, but if they're all out of your size, try on the terrible neon yellow shorts just for size. Chances are the store can order you the color you want, or you can find it online.
Step five: Put it to the test
We know it feels ridiculous to bounce around inside a poorly lit box, but do yourself a favor and humor us, anyway. Giving your sneakers the good old once-around-the-store try will prevent you from shelling out major money on shoes that will make you sorry later. The same goes for sports bras (bounce bounce bounce!), yoga tops (too tight? too loose? top riding up?) and all bottoms.
Step six: Get a second opinion
No, we don't mean a, "Is this color washing me out?" opinion, either. Snag someone in the know, like a senior on the track team or (you guessed it) a sales rep, and ask them if your gear is fitting and feeling the way it's supposed to. Inquire about stretch, breathability and--always!--their return policy.
OK, time to talk favorites! What are you current workout go-tos, girlies?

BY BRITTANY TAYLOR ON 6/3/2013 4:54:00 PM


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