As a self-confessed gym junkie, I’m always on the lookout for the best up-and-coming brands and companies that offer affordable workout gear. (Let’s face it, I’m not going to spend $100+ on a running top aka glorified sweat towel.) I’m definitely no Gym Jackie O — more often than not I’m running in a t-shirt from 8th grade track or shorts with paint up the side — but if I’m going to buy myself workout wear, I want it to be cute! Long story short, I am currently obsessed with Athleta, the Gap subsidiary that offers fun, functional and affordable options that keep you looking smoking, even while you’re sweating. Here are my picks:
1. Athleta Swim Collection
Not sure if swimwear companies know this, but…surprise! Some of us actually move around on the beach. If you’ve experienced the classic “well I was body surfing, and I survived the wave, but my bottoms didn’t…” situation (Totally has never ever happened to me on a beach in Hawaii. In front of 50+ people including several small children. This is a completely fictional story.), these suits have your name on ‘em. Bikinis, tankinis, skort bottoms, boyshort bottoms, and every color imaginable, and for you fashion-forward beach-goers, even a Missoni-esque line. (Pictured: “Off Shore Paisley Scrunch Bikini top”) At $52 per piece, the swimwear is on the expensive side, but I can tell you from experience, it’s worth it! The pieces are extremely well made and they’ll last forever!
I am constantly in search of the newest and best workout bottoms. Obviously I’m partial to Lululemon yoga pants (I’m being completely honest when I say I could die happy in those pants), but I’m not partial to the whopping price tag. Seriously. Lululemon pants are made with diamond thread? There’s gold sewn into the waistband? What gives?! Athleta, on the other hand, offers a variety of tried-and-tested shorts, capris, and pants for every activity (yoga, running, hiking, even triathlon!) for a more reasonable fee. I’ve worn tons of different brands and tried practically every style imaginable, but I’m loving the Vata short (pictured at left; only $39!) and ridiculously comfortable Simha Capri by MPG (pictured below, $54, other colors on sale for less on athleta.com)
3. “Athleta Chi” Blog Feature
Not only does Athleta feature fun and functional fitness gear at a reasonable price, its “Athleta Chi” blog is one of the best fitness blogs I’ve seen! www.athleta.net/chi has 6 different tabs (“Featured Athletes,” “Sports & Fitness,” “Tutorials &Training Plans,” “Nutrition & Health,” “Travel & Adventure,” and “Inside Athleta”) which, unlike most heavy-on-pictures, light-on-info fitness blogs, prove to be a virtual (pun intended) gold mine of health and fitness tips, tricks, and inspiration. The “Sports & Fitness” tab includes blog entries on every imaginable athletic endeavor — including Kettlebell and Stand Up Paddleboard! I particularly enjoyed the Training Plan and Nutrition info — I definitely recommend spending a decent amount of time on these tabs if you are training for an endurance race. The blog also has tutorial videos, athlete bios, and a list of “Blogs we Love.” #1 blog I love? Athleta Chi!
4. Double Bonus Points
Brownie point #1: Athleta provides free shipping on any order over $50, “no code, no hassle!” That’s a pair of shorts and a headband. Or three tops. Or one swimsuit. Basically they want to give you free shipping. Brownie point #2: the Athleta store on Fillmore St in San Francisco is a) big, bright, and clean, with helpful employees, and b) a destination! The store is situated within walking distance of tons of little boutiques, unique restaurants, bookstores, and coffee shops. Bring your Boxing BFF or your Cycling Sistah and make a day of it. Good Luck!