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Save Money on Exercise Equipment with Cheap Swaps for Pricier Gear

Every gym rat seems to go through a similar fashion evolution: First, you’re trudging to the gym in old band t-shirts and leggings too ratty to even wear to brunch. Then, as you realize how uncomfortable sweaty cotton can be, you start checking out proper performance wear—and, if you’re anything like us, losing your mind over the prices. (Does anyone seriously expect you to sweat in $1,834 leggings?) To save your sanity and your wallet, we rounded up some low-cost swaps for pricey fitness gear.

Sports Bras
Target

Normally, we would tell you to just say no to cheap sports bras—especially if you’re well-endowed, since many inexpensive options use lower-quality material that offer less-than-optimal support. But then we tried the C9 by Champion Women’s Seamless Sports Bra line (from $8; target.com) While they’re not quite as high-tech as The Sports Bra of the Future, the C9 bras come in tons of styles with differing amount of support—and all are super-cute and comfy.

Leggings
Old Navy

If Lululemon’s sheer yoga pant-gate taught us anything, it’s that money doesn’t always buy quality. And the flip side is also true: Old Navy’s Active Compression Leggings ($30; oldnavy.com) are made of (totally opaque) moisture-wicking material with flat seams to prevent chafing. Plus, there’s a small hidden pocket for your keys. (Then try our Look Good in Leggings Workout to really make them shine.)

GPS Watch
Soleus

The absolute lowest cost option is to get an armband or phone belt and download a free GPS app like Map My Run (free; itunes.com and play.google.com). If you’re set on a watch, though, there are some great (albeit no-frills) options in the $100 range, like the Soleus Fit ($99; soleusrunning.com). Or look on bestbuy.com for refurbished Garmins.

Dumbbells
Walmart

Yes, the candy-colored ones look cool—but they come at a steep price. The Gold’s Gym 40-Pound Vinyl Dumbbell Set ($15; walmart.com) may not be as pretty, but it’ll get you just as ripped as those bright yellow weights you’ve been eyeing. Especially if you start with this 8-Minute, 1-Dumbbell Definition Workout.

Jacket
H&M

If you’re braving the cold outdoors, you already know that layering is key. The H&M Sport Padded Lightweight Jacket ($50; hm.com) makes a great top layer—without being too spend-y. (Check out our Guide to Cold Weather Running here.)

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