I do not look nice at the gym. Although getting a flushed face is a natural symptom of an exercising body (blood vessels open to send oxygen to your muscles and blood rushes to your skin’s surface to cool you down and prevent overheating), I’m also fair-skinned and have a minor case of rosacea. So I usually look like this:
Listicles like "Adorable Gym Hair Styles!" make me want to vomit. I get serious swass, my bitch face becomes SEVERE, and I'm usually fumbling around with the cord of my headphones on the treadmill whilst trying to not trip over my pigeon toes and crack my head open and die. Looking bangable at the gym is always the last thing on my mind.
However: I strongly believe in the power of cute workout clothes. Here's why:
1) THEY MOTIVATE ME TO WORK OUT MORE
"That's what I thought when I bought that stair stepper," you may think as you side-eye the machine covered in laundry in your living room. Buying workout clothes isn't the same thing as purchasing pricey, at-home equipment.
Though you might get sticker shock while shopping for some pieces, the total cost isn't THAT terrible. (I'm mentally adding up what I've spent over the past three years, and it's something like $300.)
I get a lot my brand-name pieces -- like Nike sports bras -- at Nordstrom's Rack, and then mix in inexpensive basics, like Old Navy yoga pants (the BEST), or tank tops from Target.
I'll occasionally splurge on that Housewife of OC garb when I've reached a fitness goal, such as running a 5K. Getting new clothes serves as a powerful reward for my person.
2) THEY HELP ME EXERCISE BETTER
Without proper form, some of the exercises you do may be ineffective, or could result in an injury. But you already know that.
Tighter clothes help you gauge your form more accurately -- you'll actually see how the muscles are moving. When you wear those 3-year-old baggy sweatpants with a cigarette burn in the thigh, you might not be able to see your knee move past your foot while doing a forward lunge, for example (that's bad for your knees, bb!)
Also, the extra fabric could get caught in whatever equipment you're using, which SEEMS like the start of a potential romantic comedy but in reality, would probably just suck.
3) THEY GIVE ME MORE CONFIDENCE
Other than feeling like a totally hot Housewife of OC who's like, "Of COURSE I have so much time in the day to work out! Plus, gotta burn off that white wine and champs, [giggle]!" I've recently realized that I'm willing to try new things when I have the designated gear.
This brings me to the hardest class I've ever taken in my life:
I met Anna Jerstrom at a fundraising event she hosted with Keep A Breast, where breast cancer survivors got surf lessons on the prettiest beach ever in Santa Monica (beats a boring walk, right?).
I immediately got the impression that Anna rules as 1) She is European and 2) She used to be an investment banker -- until she quit on a whim to move to Costa Rica to surf for 6 hours a day. (I like fellow impulsives. They make me feel like less of a freak.)
Without any idea of what she'd do once she went back to "the real world," as the normals call it, Anna thought she'd start her own active swimwear line. She was surfing in gear she didn't love. So she targeted that niche!
Her original designs were specifically for hardcore surfer girls, but her line, Calavera, really hit the market in 2012. Still, she goes down to Costa Rica to test out her designs every design season -- which makes me hate her a little. So I told her that at the event.
"Well, we're launching performance pieces soon, for indoor water classes," she said. "You could help us test them, if you want?"
I said sure, because I didn't think she'd follow through, and because I still have exactly 0 friends in L.A. and have just been saying yes to everything in an attempt to make some.
Oh! And 'cause I read water classes were all the rage now with French women.
But a day before the line launched, Anna sent me a suit -- this dope magenta one-piece with long sleeves, thumb holes, and a baby pocket on the side with her signature skull logo -- and told me we'd be testing them out at H20 Bootcamp.
I had a million excuses not to go (e.g. my boyfriend and I just broke up, I suck at life, everything has been awful, and I was terrified) but went for the sake of the suit.
ALAS, I'm SO HAPPY I did. I haven't swam laps since high school -- and even then I doggie-paddled and told my gym teacher I had period cramps for fear that my tiny tits were going to slip out of my tankini -- but I managed.
We swam laps with parachutes on our backs (so Mario Kart) and with paddles on our hands that helped you glide through the water like a sea creature.
We got out and did pushups I wanted to pass out, pull-ups on the starting platforms, and the classic in-out tricep dips everyone should ALWAYS DO when they get out of the pool, anyway.
Even in the water, I got all red-faced and sweaty. I thought Anna was going to kick my ass, but she got winded, too.
At the end of the longest hour ever (for real), I felt accomplished and confident. And also really hot. Every person at the pool fawned over our suits (I got jealous of blue-and-black striped leotard another Calavera girl was testing, by the way).
And even though in the beginning of class, when the woman next to me said she comes four times a week, and I just said, "No," I'm planning on going back.
Soon after, I also decided to sign up for surf lessons. (WHO AM I BECOMING?)
BONUS! Since Anna is the dopest, she's giving away one of the suits from her new line to an xoJaner. To win, leave a comment about a time you didn't want to do something, did it anyway, and everything ended up awesome to enter. Please be 18+ and residing in the United States. We'll pick a random winner on 11/26.
It may be winter, but perhaps getting a suit will entice you to take an indoor swim class, or try something new. Eh?
Talk to me on Twitter: @caitlinthornton