See how these hyped-up leggings look on seven different body types—and whether they really ~transform~ your butt.
ICYMI, the athleisure market is exploding, and new brands of workout wear are popping up left and right—meaning there are a million different places to scoop up some workout leggings.
Chances are you've heard of one of these new brands: Gymshark, an up-and-coming, Instagram-fan-fueled clothing company. Their social media fanbase is impressive—more than 1.7 million Instagram followers between two accounts. What's even more impressive: In a market saturated with stretch pants, there's such high demand for their Flex Leggings that they're almost always sold out. Say whaaaaa?
So why exactly are people scrambling to get a pair? For one, at just $38, they're much cheaper than your average pair of performance workout pants. Second—and most importantly—they're guaranteed to make anyone's backside look utterly bootylicious. (Just one reason leggings are the best thing ever invented.)
In the name of Important Fitness Journalism, we set out on an epic quest to see whether these leggings were really worth the hype. Here, you have seven regular human women (i.e., the Shape.com staffers) trying on the famed Flex leggings. See the booty transformations for yourself, and read what the #ShapeSquad has to say.
They're *super* comfortable.
These leggings were way comfortable—like sweaters-for-your-legs comfortable. It's tough to tell from the photos, but they have a second-skin knit feel, versus some other brands that may feel sleek or sweat-wicking.
"I liked how they felt—the material was a little more knit than I was expecting, but comfy," says Amanda Wolfe, Shape digital director. That being said, several editors agreed that they would totally wear these on the couch instead of at the gym: "I'd probably wear these again for yoga or for a Netflix and Chill marathon," says Marietta Alessi, Shape social media editor. (YES, leggings are pants. And that's final.)
They're not quite as tight as you might think.
If you've gotten used to the zipped-up feeling that your fave pair of spandex gives you, these might leave you feeling a little ~loose~. "I generally prefer more actual compression for my generous booty and hips," says Wolfe. However, the lack of compression is indeed one of the reasons they're so comfortable. Plus, you have 100 percent range of motion with these babies—which doesn't happen if you strap yourself into a super-tight pair.
For some workouts, though, editors weren't convinced they would cut it: "Even though I #lovemyshape, I wish they had more compression and sucked, tucked, and lifted my booty since that's how I like to work out in my leggings," says Alessi. "I kickbox, so my legs go all over the place and I need to feel secure." (P.S. She's talking about #LoveMyShape, our kickass body-positive campaign.)
They really do show off ~the booty~.
Compared to a pair of plain black pants, the expertly placed shading really does add dimension to your legs, hips, and glutes. "They do accentuate my curves really well, so I can see the draw," says Alessi.
And, obv, they make for fabulous 'grams. "The colored panels definitely made my butt look more contoured so I can totally see the appeal for those Instagram-worthy #belfie shots," says Wolfe. (Or, you know, you could go the old-fashioned route and built that booty with a butt workout.)
But that means sacrificing that high-waisted-ness we love.
If you're really into the wide waistband, corset-style top of some other popular legging brands, you might want to pass on these. "The low-rise cut made them feel unflattering," says Kiera Carter, Shape executive digital editor.
"I'm not even going to sugarcoat it: I hated these leggings," says Kylie Gilbert, associate digital editor. "They created a pretty unfortunate camel toe situation thanks to the extreme low rise, negating any benefit they may have had for my backside."
Shape web editor Alyssa Sparacino agreed: "The biggest culprit was the low rise, which feels so '90s and hit my hips in all the wrong places." Current leggings waistband score: high-waisted with three, and hip-huggers with zilch.
And they're certainly not for blending in...
"The 'contouring' effect wasn't exactly subtle—it's really just a giant blob circling your booty, which felt a little Kardashian-Jenner to me," says Carter. "To each her own, but I'm more the 'deadlifts quietly in the corner' type, preferably in black leggings."
But if you're in the gym to see and be seen (hey, zero shame in that—feelin' yourself and your gym outfit can even make your workout better), then these might be the perfect in-between leggings that fall nicely between rainbow tie-dye pattern and basic black. Not to mention, some of Gymshark's other colors are a little more subtle; their all-black pair gives a more subtle (but still booty-benefiting) illusion.
The Takeaway: Booty pop if you dare.
"Overall, I thought my butt looked (and felt) better in my trusty high-waisted black leggings and I will be sticking to contouring my face exclusively from here on out," says Gilbert. Sparacino adds: "I'd choose a good pair of tight, performance leggings with a higher waistband any day of the week."
Not everyone vetoed the Flex leggings, though: "I was very skeptical at first; I honestly didn't think my butt would look any different, but I was surprised," says Jasmine Phillips, Shape social media writer. "These leggings definitely made me want to walk around backward just to show off my booty." If these leggings do make you feel like a boss, bootylicious babe, they might be the only motivation you need to crush that next leg workout. "It's that look good, feel good connection," says Alessi.
And, hey, if you're not into wearing them to the gym, at least you know they're 100 percent comfy enough for the couch.