Gym gear isn't meant to make you feel guilty - A critique of the sexy gym gear craze
By Natalie Jovanovski
The popularity of fashionable gym clothes has always been slightly annoying, but I couldn't quite figure out why in the beginning. Don't get me wrong - I own gym clothes, and I like wearing them because - SHOCK HORROR - I enjoy feeling comfortable when I work out. You can't go wrong with a good elastic waist.
No, it's not the comfort of the clothes than make me feel uncomfortable. After much deliberation I realised that what annoys me about fashionable gym clothes - and what they represent in Western culture - is everything that a healthy exercise routine is not: Sexy, focused on appearance and a constant reminder that I should be getting my Aerobics Oz Style on.
Let's face it. If fashionable fitness tights could talk, this is what they would ask us: Are you feeling sexy? ... You're not? Then you need to work out harder. And try being sexy while you do it.
Do we really need our gym gear to make us feel guilty? Aren't we already taught to feel guilty about our bodies from every other facet of popular culture? Now our comfortable sweat pants need to turn on us, too?
Fashionable and sexy gym gear seems to be on the rise. Australian and international fashion companies have profited substantially from turning gym gear into the newest fashion accessories. Even parodies of the gym gear craze have appeared on YouTube and on breakfast television shows, highlighting the absurdity of wearing fitness outfits without engaging in the fitness bit. No longer is a fitness bra just an item of clothing designed to support your breasts during a jog - it's also there to make you look sexy during said jog (See: Serena's Williams' 'Bounce' campaign earlier this year). When will this sexy madness end?
Thankfully, I am not alone in my frustration. Maggie Kelly, a Sydney-based writer who has previously commented on crazy diets and fitness crazes, refers to the sexy gym gear phenomenon as 'fake healthy': a way to pretend like you're being healthy by simply putting on an a tight-fitting fitness outfit.
Surely if you're planning on being healthy, this pursuit will take more than just a change of outfit? While some have commented that fashionable gym gear puts them in the 'mood' for exercising, others have argued that donning their expensive pair of fancy fitness tights without the exercise only makes them feel more guilty about themselves.
But the popularisation of fashionable gym clothes hasn't been all bad. Being physically comfortable in the clothing we wear is a good thing. An elastic waist, flat comfortable shoes and a good-fitting sports bra are a nice change from the ultra high heels that so many of us have become accustomed to. But the need to feel sexy, and then feeling guilty about the lack of exercise we're doing while looking sexy, is counterproductive.
Feeling good about our bodies starts with how we treat our bodies, not with how we adorn them.
No amount of sexy fitness tights will change that.
I’m replacing the sexy gym gear with comfortable tracksuit pants. The focus has to be on being kind to our bodies. Being sexy can wait for another time.