Why You Should Invest In a Workout Leotard or Onesie

The retro workout wear should've never gone out of style. Here's why you should pull up to your next workout class in a onesie.

Person dancing in the long-sleeved black workout leotard

Not being old enough to have participated in the Jane Fonda–era glory days of leotards as workout wear, my first experience wearing one to the gym was under slightly different circumstances: a costume party. For Halloween one year, my whole kickboxing class at the Y decided to deck ourselves out in full '80s gear. There's nothing I love more than dressing up, so I went all out with a gold lamé leotard over leggings — belted, of course — with high tops and sky-high hair to boot. I expected it to be fun and a good workout (it did not disappoint!) but what I hadn't expected was how amazingly comfortable the retro 'fit was.

Oh yes, you heard me right: Working out in a leotard felt amazing. Since then, because I care, probably too much, about what people think of me in public, I mostly stuck to more traditional workout wear (think: running capris, shorts, and tank tops). But over the past year, I've started to work onesies back into my workout wardrobe.

It started with a ballet class that required a workout leotard and tights. The tights I could definitely do without, but again, I was pleasantly surprised by how functional the leotard was to move in. After that, I started sneaking my onesies into yoga class, camouflaging them with a pair of shorts over the top. It was bliss. No longer did I have to do downward dog on one hand so I could pull my shirt down with the other. There were no more hurried adjustments of waistbands between poses. And, best of all, when I went upside down, I no longer had to worry about a too-loose top slipping over my head and arms, essentially hog-tying me. (Turns out there's no official yoga pose called "upside down blind squirrel stuck in a sock," but I still like to think I made it look good.)

But what about the rumor that bodysuits give you terrible camel toe and make it impossible to pee? For me, that hasn't been a problem. I have a long torso, but as long as I buy workout leotards in "tall" sizes, there aren't any front (or back) wedgie issues. Plus, I wear shorts over mine. As for the bathroom, I normally don't have to go in the middle of a workout, but if it happens, I just pull it to the side. It's fine — and these small inconveniences are more than made up for by the functionality and comfort provided by a workout leotard.

writer Charlotte Hilton Andersen doing a handstand in a workout leotard

Benefits of Workout Leotards

Now, I'm on a mission to spread the joy of working out in a leotard. Mostly because I care about your comfort, but also because the more people I can convince to join me, the less I'll look like a time warp.

Here are a few reasons you should try a workout onesie too:

Seriously Trendy

Like all good fashion trends, the bodysuit has made a permanent comeback. Celebrities from Brie Larson to Gabrielle Union to Ariana Grande have rocked workout bodysuits, and for good reason — they'll make sure you're the best dressed at the gym. Plus, if you've seen the workout routines of the celebs in question, you know they don't mess around and need workout wear that doesn't get in the way.

Stay In Place

No more slippery tank tops slowly creeping up your tummy or doing the "window shade roll" when you bend over. Bodysuits stay down no matter which way you twist and turn. Seriously, workout leotards are a game-changer if you love yoga.

Hold You In

I wouldn't call them shapewear (they're way too comfy for that), but because there's no seam in the middle, you get more of a smoothing effect — plus, the elastic does hold you in a little. (Workout leotards aren't exactly compressive, but FYI, there are actually recovery benefits of compression workout gear.)

No Annoying Waistband

Have you ever been sprinting and realized that while you're running forward, your bottoms are headed downward? With a onesie, you never need to worry about pulling up your pants again. Or even wearing pants!

Super Flattering

Probably the thing I hear most about workout onesies is, "I could never wear one, I don't have the body for it!" First of all, if you have a body, then you have "the body" for a workout leotard. (Just like every single person has a "summer-ready body.") It's a myth that you need to have a certain body to wear a onesie — or to wear anything you love, for that matter.

For one thing, gym wear should be about comfort and functionality first and foremost, so wear whatever you feel good wearing. Second, the right workout leotard can be very flattering, and they come in many styles (read: shorts, skirts, full leggings), colors, and fabrics to suit you. Not to mention, it's perfectly acceptable to throw on a pair of shorts or a tee over the top to get the best of both worlds. Either way, don't knock it 'til you've tried it!

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