Schools often lump rec center dues in with other mandatory student activity fees, so you should definitely take advantage of your “free” gym membership to stay healthy in college.
But working out with a bunch of fitness fanatics who know what they’re doing can be intimidating at first.
To take one thing off your mind, read on for a quick primer on what you should — and shouldn’t — wear while exercising in public.
1. DO buy true performance fabrics.
Fabrics that are flexible, moisture-wicking, temperature-specific or otherwise engineered will help keep you dry and comfortable as you exercise. But not all “performance” fabrics are created equal, so make sure you’re getting what you pay for — remember the Lululemon see-through yoga pants debacle?
2. DON’T pick a cotton t-shirt.
It’s tempting to grab one of the ten thousand big cotton t-shirts you got for free during orientation week, but 100% cotton clothing isn’t the best choice for a sweaty workout. Cotton absorbs moisture easily, so you’ll be stuck with a heavy, sticky shirt that can cause irritation and will get cold as soon as you’re done exercising. Plus, baggy clothing is actually a safety risk since it can get caught in a machine.
3. DO test your clothing before its public debut.
Just because a pair of shorts looks good on the rack or a top fits well in the dressing room doesn’t mean it’s cleared for deadlifts in the middle of a public gym. Before you take your new workout duds out on the town — er, mat — do some test exercises in your room to make sure they don’t ride up too high or fall down too low as soon as you bend over in downward dog.
4. DON’T leave your jewelry and/or watch on.
Many people have one accessory that they never take off — whether it’s a class ring, keepsake necklace or family watch. However, you risk damaging jewelry by banging it against a weight or snagging it on a machine, and perspiration can dirty up the metal or cause an allergic reaction, so leave it at home.
5. DO consider your workout.
Different workouts call for different clothes, so think about the kind of exercises you’ll be doing before you change. If you’re headed to a yoga class, grab some leggings or yoga pants (duh), while loose shorts with a compression lining are better for a rigorous cardio routine that involves a lot of jumping.