Getting fit is no easy chore and personally I am allergic to the gym. However I go anyway to keep fit and healthy and the odd time I actually enjoy myself, and with Olympic mania already gaining momentum, there is no time like 2012 to get sporty. I have never been a fan of tracksuits but with the increasing popularity of classes like Bikram yoga and Pilates, the range of gym and leisure wear now available in Ireland is at an all-time high. I will point out the obvious and say that comfort and fit are the most important, and depending on whether you like to walk, run, or go to classes, there is a practical element to your choice of clothing. The good news is that it is all very affordable.
This week I went along to a press event held by Champion Sports to find out a little more about how we can balance the style with the technical. We are not talking Olivia Newton-John from the video for ‘Let’s Get Physical’ or aiming to look like something from Flashdance, but we can look good while we work out. Familiar names like Adidas and Nike have a wide range of clothing from cut off leggings to long T-shirts and, naturally, running shoes for every occasion. Champion Sports even have a ‘pants bar’ where you can choose from every shape and length of training pants. My gym picks are lightweight boot cut tracksuit bottoms and a loose-fitting top for comfort; over that try a zip-up retro hoodie from Addidas originals just in case you need to pop to the shops after the gym. And if you want to swap the cross trainers for something more urban, high-top runners are all the rage at the moment, with brands like Converse sparking a revolution with their classic sneakers (prices from €45 at Champion Sports and Office ).
Yoga and Pilates are two of the most popular classes for toning and wellbeing, and since the New York phenomenon of Bikram (yoga practiced in a hot room ) came to our shores, we are spoilt for choice. I am a big fan of yoga and have been practicing for several years now; not a week goes by where I don't attend a class. But dressing for these classes is a whole new ball game - I speak from experience! Movement is key, hence loose clothes, especially bottoms, are not suitable. There are brands which are totally dedicated to designing clothing for yoga, however in my research they tend to be quite expensive and until you find that this kind of class is your calling, I don't recommend spending a lot of money on your outfit. Dunnes Stores has a great range of high performance clothing like vests in seasonal colours like orange and lilac (orange performance vest, €10 ) which do the job and have built in support as an added bonus.
There's always a need for accessories
Even though I am a self-professed handbag junkie, my gym gear always ends up in a canvas shopping bag or similar ‘untrendy’ holdall. I know, I'm letting the side down, but I'm on a mission to improve the bag situation and have found some functional and stylish gym bags which will also double up as carry on luggage for my summer holiday. Tube bags are great and will fit everything from your clothes to the spare pair of shoes you bring to work (bag, Fiorelli, £55 ). Alternatively, shops like Elverys make small drawstring back packs which you can pop your runners in. Plus, watch out for all the Ireland merchandise for the Olympics and Euro 2012 and get yourself a souvenier.