My 22nd birthday is two weeks away, marking the beginning of my days as a wise and enlightened savant.
After nearly a year of excessive partying, drinking, dating, and essentially breast-stroking through all of the superficial wonders New York has to offer, I have spent the last couple months laying low. I’ve felt content embracing the introverted side of my personality (my writing doesn’t show it, but I’m actually really shy!), spending more and more time detaching from social networks and more time connecting with real things and real people.
I’ve also been using this time to focus on myself in a positive way – showing gratitude for my physical and mental health by treating my body right.
Throughout my teens and adolescent life it seemed like I couldn’t escape my hereditary depression. Introducing exercise into my adult life provided structure and focus, while proper nutrition gave me the energy and positive attitude I needed to get out of bed.
It’s important to understand that while I have an appreciation and interest in wellness, it all lies within moderation. Aside from pizza, I have no desire to eat processed or prepackaged foods. My diet isn’t particularly calculated, but I lean toward what is obviously good for me. I still don’t know what acai berries are, but blueberries are good. (For anyone that lives near a Juice Generation: don’t acai bowls look like diarrhea?)
I work out four to five days per week through a Class Pass membership, but my preferred workouts of choice are all low impact — yoga, Pilates, barre, and dance classes because I’m Beyoncé. (Cardio gives me anxiety and running is out of the question).
Athletic wear plays a huge role in my life and wardrobe, and more often than not I’ll spend my entire day wearing it. However I absolutely do not want to look like a pretentious yuppie in a puffy neon vest, and matching fluorescent running gear while walking through the Meatpacking district. Have you seen that parody music video that’s like, “Activewear… Activewear… Drinking Coke Zero in my ACTIVEWEAR!”
I’m sure you’ve seen commercials for athletic brands featuring ripped men and women pouring sweat while pushing themselves through really scary and intense sports and climbing ropes.
These messages are intimidating, and honestly a purely unrealistic way for most regular people to approach daily activity. I wouldn’t even begin to know how to climb a rope! So where do us plebeians who simply like ballet and long walks fit into this intense fitness culture? We don’t.
I fell in love with Tyler Haney’s company motto that “doing things is better than not doing things” for her brand Outdoor Voices.
In a Forbes interview, she explained: “I was always an athlete growing up — running track and playing basketball — but never resonated with the credo to be ‘faster, better, stronger’ that so many major activewear brands are built around. In Boulder, recreational activity is an integral part of everyday life… and activity isn’t necessarily measured by performance. It’s social and fun. I started Outdoor Voices because I wanted an activewear brand that really celebrated approaching activity lightheartedly.”
Doing things. The mentality is so laid-back and modest, aka the complete opposite of our “fitspo” generation.
I’ve adapted this new way of perceiving fitness – not getting sweaty because you’re competitive and enjoy flipping cars over in parking lots. Yesterday I reserved an hour for myself to turn my phone on airplane mode, play a calm autumnal jazz playlist, and saunter through Central Park.
I found the time to appreciate the leaves changing, while also making a point to implement activity into an otherwise stagnant day. I move because I feel happy and alive doing it, not just in search of a result.
So now that you’ve got the mindset down, some low-key clothes are next, right? The key factors for any exercise ensemble are comfort, performance, and of course, style.
In this case, we’re looking for easy, chill apparel that doubles as high-performance wear, and is subtle enough to be worn all day.
Outdoor Voices sources their materials from the same mills as Nike and Lululemon, so the high-quality fabrics feature sweat wicking and compression. The neutral color palettes are beautiful, and as a fashion student I appreciate the detailed seams and paneling.
Each piece is a comfortable weight that can breathe during the spring and summer, but is heavy enough to stay warm in the fall and winter. Also, the leggings won’t ride up into your vagina during yoga class.
Nike is one of my favorites because the brand focuses heavily on sustainability, but is still dependable for athlete-grade apparel that will maintain shape and elasticity for years. These high-waisted joggers are my favorite transitional piece, and are extremely flattering with a basic white sports bra and sneakers.
The outfit below is a sporty take on the proportions I would wear regularly, because I enjoy being half-naked at all times. Also, these fleece sneakers are basically like wearing sweatshirts on your feet. So comfy.
Puma is slowly making a comeback. To be perfectly honest, I thought their clothes were corny for a long time rarely purchased their products. After Rihanna began collaborating with the brand, I started scrolling through their looks on Six:02 and was shocked at how much I loved their new image.
Every piece was sleek and had swag. (Yes I still say swag, so sue me).
Black leggings and white tees are comfortable essentials, but logo mesh panels can keep them from boring the world to tears.
The Puma Roma Basic sneakers are perfect for taking you to a studio class without having to wear running shoes all day.
I now feel inspired to implement activity into my daily agenda – and dragging my reluctant carcass to the gym is not necessary. Scheduling a last-minute dance class to burn off steam, taking a long walk to explore, or jumping around on a roof at sunset are all ways to move more, and create a positive relationship with exercise and my body.
The comments here are a safe place to talk about fitness and exercise without getting preachy or judge-y. I would love to hear more about how you approach health and activity. Also, how do you feel about the polarizing extremes seen in the fitness community?
Photos by Matt Castaños. Follow him on Instagram @mattycastanos.
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