One of activewear's biggest trends gets put to the test
I'm a fashion editor, so I've seen a lot of crazy trends. Some catch on and become part of our everyday wardrobes, and some fizzle out almost immediately. During my time at Shape, I've seen the activewear market grow immensely, and that has majorly impacted not only the way people dress in the gym but outside the gym too. We wear workout clothes all the time now—even when we have no intention of getting our sweat on—and I think that's awesome. (See: Workout Clothes You Can Wear On a Night Out.) Who doesn't love being comfy?
When first I saw that bodysuits, leotards, and unitards were cropping up from some of my favorite active brands (like Michi, Koral and Adidas by Stella McCartney, to name a few), I had mixed feelings. Not only did they bring me back to my elementary school ballet days (ugh), but they also seemed totally impractical for doing the types of intense workouts I love. I felt confident I could wear one of these cool, mesh-cutout, sexy-sporty pieces in my everyday life with a pair of high-waisted jeans and leather jacket thrown over, but I wondered if they'd really hold up during a hardcore sweat session. After observing them from afar for several months and realizing they weren't going anywhere, I decided to give one a try to see for myself if it could handle a real workout.
My friends at Michi gave me this super sleek and chic leotard ($205; michiny.com), which I was totally pumped to try out. First, I wore it out to a bar with jeans, and it was a big hit. Bodysuits are a fashion staple right now, so it didn't seem out of place at all, and I loved that I could wear it sans bra because it's pretty compression-y. Score! Next up: workouts.
SLT's megaformer class was the first place I worked out in my new bodysuit, and I have to admit: It was pretty comfy. In fact, it was way better than I was expecting. I was participating in their month-long class challenge (which was completely ass-kicking, for the record), and found myself reaching for my new leo more often than I thought when packing my workout outfit. (Thinking of challenging yourself? Check out these 5 Things to Know Before You Attempt a Fitness Challenge.) The material felt super soft and absorbed any light sweat from the class. For that kind of low-impact workout, this bodysuit was a winner.
I'm just going to put it out there: I am not great at barre. As a long time CrossFitter, I have always found the quiver-inducing micro movements to be painful and frustrating, and I usually spend half the class staring at everyone else wondering how they're so effortlessly squeezing their little ball between their perfectly-toned thighs. Sigh. I felt like I needed to try something ballet-inspired for this story, though, so I signed up for my fave out of all the barre classes I've tried: Physique 57. Wearing the bodysuit totally put me in the right state of mind for this kind of workout, since its shoulder-baring neckline made me feel more like a ballerina than I expected. I'd say a bodysuit is a go for this kind of workout, too.
I was very nervous to wear my bodysuit to Barry's Bootcamp, mostly because I was afraid it wouldn't be ideal for the intense sprinting sections. To my surprise, I actually didn't feel the bodysuit at all when I was running, so that wasn't an issue. What was a problem, however, was wearing a long-sleeved, super tight leotard during an extremely sweaty and hot class. I normally love the crazy loud music and hardcore vibe at Barry's, but I felt like couldn't focus on the class because I was constantly adjusting my sleeves and trying to roll them up without cutting off my circulation. Also, when I had to pee halfway through (something about knowing I'm going to be all-out sprinting for 30 minutes makes me chug water beforehand), it was a sweaty struggle. Bottom line: Maybe don't wear one of these to a class you know is going to be extremely hot and intense.
This dance cardio class is my absolute favorite workout ever. The hour-long class totally flies by because you're so focused on nailing the moves and enjoying the always-awesome music. (If you haven't tried dance cardio, scope these 5 Dance Classes That Double as Cardio Workouts.) After my Barry's experience, though, I was a worried I'd be uncomfortable since this class is also sweaty and intense. But I actually found it to be perfect—I swapped out my usual tight workout leggings for some looser, lightweight sweats, and that helped me feel less constricted and more free to move.
If you want something versatile that you can wear both inside the gym and out, a bodysuit or leotard is a great option. If you know you favor more intense, sweaty workouts, definitely go for a sleeveless style so you can get the most use out of it. This trend doesn't seem to be going anywhere, so go ahead and invest in one if you're drawn to it. If not, there are tons of other ways to look cute when you work out, so don't sweat it.