Workout clothes: Why you go shopping for some new stuff

Toss your stinky sweats and armpit-stained t-shirts for some high quality exercise gear. It will inspire you to get in shape!
By James S. Fell
Workout clothes: Why you go shopping for some new stuff Masterfile

If you’re still wearing some old grey sweatpants with a hole in them and a t-shirt you painted the house in as exercise clothes, and you’ve got some money to spare, then I want you to go shopping.

I’m a big fan of exercise, and I know that the only way to really stick with it is to learn to love being active. So, how much do you love exercise when you don’t have good equipment? I have a lot of workout clothes, and they’re all high quality. The reason is that having nice-looking and good-quality clothing makes exercise more enjoyable. If it’s more enjoyable, you’ll exercise more frequently, for longer durations, and at a higher intensity. It’s all about positive reinforcement, which means that if a “stimulus” (exercising in nice clothes) elicits a positive “response” (having fun), then you are likely to keep seeking out that stimulus again and again (meaning you'll become a workout warrior).

Nice workout clothes are more comfortable, they usually look better, and they last longer. It’s generally the case that you get what you pay for, and remember that this is stuff that you will be sweating in and washing frequently. If you want it to last then quality is usually the way to go.

In addition to positive reinforcement, wearing the appropriate attire also has an impact on your feelings of self-efficacy, which is a situation-specific form of self-confidence. Good exercise clothes can be considered tools of the trade and when you’re all covered up in nice-looking, nice-feeling, high-tech workout gear then you get a confidence boost that makes you feel ready to go out there and kick some serious exercise butt.

The reason I’m writing this article is because just today my clothes made me exercise.

I can see the little question mark above your head from here.

I’d been working a lot lately, doing lots of writing and working with a needy client who wanted to drop some weight in a hurry for a big event. I’d also been pretty busy just doing dad/husband stuff around the house and the day was slipping away from me. I was due for a nice, long run, but I was waffling. I was ready to bail on it and just sit at my computer and write another article.

Although I will run outside no matter how cold, it’s always a tough transition for me in the fall. We’ve had a warm couple of weeks and today was the first day it got down close to freezing. I could feel myself wimping out on going for a run, and I hate it when I do that.

So, I employed a tactic that I’ve tried in the past: even though I didn’t really intend to run, I just got changed into running clothes anyway.

But, I didn’t get changed into just any running clothes. I got into my best ones.

Because it was getting cold I grabbed my $95 Nike tights that I bought eight years ago and even after several thousand kilometres they still look and feel almost new. I put on my lululemon black long sleeve that is one of the best Christmas presents I ever received, a pair of $15 Ironman running socks that ensure I never get a blister, my $160 Pearl Izumi running shoes that feel like I’m not actually wearing shoes, and a $30 Asics running hat that has a special sweat absorbing band in it.

Oh, and my iPod.

Except for the socks and shoes, I was clad all in black. Johnny Cash was ready for his run. I burst out the door and ran a fast 12K, and returned home feeling great. The clothes had done their job.

I don’t want you to think that exercise has to be some kind of fashion show, and you don’t always have to buy the best stuff to make this work, but it’s something to think about if you’re motivation is lagging and you’ve got some cash to spare.

Exercise is my #1 hobby and I have no problem dedicating some disposable income to it, especially since I don’t spend thousands a year on golf. Again, good exercise clothing are “tools of the trade,” and I consider it money well spent because it’s an investment in your health.

James S. Fell is a certified strength and conditioning specialist in Calgary, AB. Visit or email him at


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