I’m one of those girls who couldn’t care less about what she looks like when she’s working out—I throw on a tee, leggings, and trainers, and I’m all set. My gym style philosophy? I’m gonna get sweaty anyway, so why bother? I will never get those who work out in full makeup (wing tips and all!)—but okay, fine, I must admit I sometimes do feel a bit insecure beside those women who’ve made the gym their personal runway, decked in sporty coordinates that highlight the bodies they’ve been working hard on.
As the tables have turned and the athleisure trend has made it legit to look sporty IRL (gym shorts, joggers, and workout clothes are as normal to be worn to the mall as peplum skirts and midi dresses), does it mean that the standards for looking presentable at the gym have been raised (because if athletic chic is the norm on the streets, shouldn’t your sporty fashion game be more on point in the place where it truly matters?)? How good should you really look when working out? Does it even matter at all?
Yes it does, because, according to a study by Northwestern researchers Hajo Adam and Adam D. Galinsky, "clothes systematically influence wearers' psychological processes." This influence, which they termed "enclothed cognition," involves two factors: The symbolic meaning of the clothes and the physical experience of wearing them. For their research, Adam and Galinsky studied the effects of wearing a lab coat, and found that while lab coats generally denote attentiveness and carefulness, there was only increased sustained attention when the lab coat was worn or described as a doctor's coat. The coat, when not worn or when associated with a painter, had no effects on increasing attention.
Applying this principle of "enclothed cognition," we can indeed say that wearing proper workout clothing will get you more pumped to flex those muscles. And if you take your gym fashion up a notch with the stylish functional athleticwear that are all the rage nowadays, your brain will surely get the signal that you also want to bring your fitness game to the next level.
Actress Coleen Garcia believes in this motivating power of athleticwear: “Looking good helps us get more motivated. After all, we are working out to feel better and look better, so it helps when we dress the part,” she says. “It’s all about looking fashionable without having to exert so much effort. Remember, gyms are still public places so it’s nice to look fresh and fierce.”
But more than having to look good because people are looking, making an effort to be presentable at the gym is the best way to jumpstart a fantastic workout. "I believe in working out in activewear that makes you look like you're about to run the world. There's a certain air of confidence that comes with looking good at the gym or at the studio," says fitness professional Nikki Torres. "Functionality and fashion go hand-in-hand. If you're out to get your fittest body ever, then you gotta look great doing it!"
Take your cue from the workout fashion and beauty M.O.s of Coleen and Nikki, and their fellow adidas "I Got This" ambassadors—athletes Aby Maraño and Cassie Umali, indoor cycling instructors Yessa Yu-Caparas and Rachelle Que-Love, and yogini Mona Lisa Neuboeck so you can nail that I-put-an-effort-into-how-I-look-because-I-take-gym-time-seriously look, pronto:
“I keep my hair tidy and away from my face, wear the right shoes, and pick the best color coordination for my workout gear.” – Coleen Garcia, who believes that being all sweaty doesn't have to equate to looking sloppy
"I make sure to wear something that makes me feel good, look good, and perform well! Makeup, nada. Eyebrows, on fleek.” – Indoor cycling instructor Rachelle Que, who believes that looking good can translate to feeling good and is a great motivation to kick ass and crush a workout.
“I like to dress in gear that either has a bold or fun print and/or a pop of color, put my hair up either in a high ponytail, a bun, or braids (if I have time) to keep sweat out of my hair and my hair out of my face, and I make sure I have nothing on my face (makeup, moisturizer) before I work out to avoid suffocating my skin and I wash my face with a gentle cleanser after.” – Yogini and fitness professional Nikki Torres, who believes that nailing your workout is something only you have the power to do so you might as well give it all you've got
“My gym look equation: Makeup-free face, comfy sports bra + loud leggings + cycling shoes,” – Indoor cycling instructor Yessa Yu-Caparas, who believes that looking good outside only matters if it makes you feel good inside
“No makeup for me, only a thin layer of non-toxic sunblock prior to outdoor workouts. I usually keep my hair in a messy bun during my yoga practice, while a high ponytail or single braid is in my opinion, the most practical hair do for running, dancing, surf training, and surfing.” – Yogini Mona Lisa Neuboeck, who believes that comfort equals confidence and this translates directly to athletic performance
“I worked hard to get the body that I am enjoying to be in at this present moment. So when I workout I usually like to wear attire that highlights my best assets, which I call my 3A’s: Arms, Abs, and Ass.” – Lady Volcano and events host Cassie Umali, who believes that looking presentable starts off your sessions with a positive state of mind and this goes a long way and it’ll help you when the exercise gets tough
“I love wearing short-shorts and fitted razorback tanks whenever I work out.” – Athlete Aby Maraño, who believes that being presentable can give you a good vibe and motivate you to work out well
At the end of the day, it's still you who'll decide if you'll dress up for spinning class or just throw on a nondescript outfit, but why not not maximize fashion's ability to empower you in conquering your fitness goals? This whole looking good thing obviously has almost nothing to do with vanity (unless you hit the treadmill with contoured cheeks, of course) and a whole lot to do with motivation... allow looking good outside to inspire you to look good inside.
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Photographs from Instagram.com/coleengarcia, Instagram.com/yessayu, Instagram.com/nkitorres, Instagram.com/loverachelleque, Instagram.com/abymarano, Instagram.com/monalisaneuboeck, and Instagram.com/cassieumali