Colorful workout wear amps up your energy

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Thursday, July 25, 2013, 8:20 p.m.

There can be a bright side to working out.

It won't come in the form of pain-free sit-ups or leg crunches without burn, though.

Wearing bold and colorful clothing and accessories can make a woman feel good while she is running, biking, lifting or doing any other activity, experts say.

“We have an instinctive, positive reaction to bright colors, whether we're picking strawberries or sports bras. Looking good in your (workout) clothes is as much positive reinforcement as it is motivation,” says Thea Palad, senior fashion editor for Women's Health Magazine.

“A bright and colorful sports bra is a way to make exercising more fun — and more stylish,” says Kay-Lin Richardson, director of sales for Panache. “As with regular lingerie, what you wear underneath your clothes can affect your mood and energy level. Donning a sports bra in a bright color or print makes going to the gym more fun.”

Palad says she can't say that hues motivate, but they definitely elicit an involuntary response — the way colors in a fast-food restaurant can amp up your appetite.

A study conducted at the University of Rochester found that muscles move quicker and with more force with red as a stimulus, she says.

“That's not motivation, per se, but the end result for both is increased output,” Palad says.

When a woman wears the right color it affects her entire life from workouts to the office to an evening out, says Julie Peterson, a personal color and style consultant for House of Colour Pittsburgh.

“When you put someone in the right colors, they feel slimmer and healthier and more confident,” Peterson says. “And when you look good, you want to look even better so that might motivate you to get yourself to (your workout) class. Color can definitely energize you.”

There are some really cool details, such as a cutout in the back, neck details or mesh to show skin, says Kristen Saladino, senior market editor for Self magazine. She says keep the brights in check. If you decide on a neon yellow top, keep the bottom black, gray or navy.

It has to be the right size, she says. Choose a sports bra that doesn't dig into your shoulder or a shirt that won't stick to you and that has some wicking ability, Saladino says.

“Color is fun, but don't forget fit,” says Saladino. “It has to be functional if you are going to be working out in it.”

Working out in bright colors makes people feel as though they are making a fashion statement, says Raquel Lessner, co-owner of Strut-This, a fashion-forward fitness-wear line.

She says her collection caters to the woman who feels strong, powerful and inspired in and out of the gym.

Fitness wear in the past had been dull and boring, especially for women. Until recently, only men had options of wearing cool and colorful workout gear, Lessner says.

“Yet, now that women have become a more prominent figure at many gyms and health clubs around the country, companies have stepped up their design aesthetic,” she says.

There also are obvious safety benefits to wearing bold clothing, Palad says. If you're running or cycling outdoors at dawn or dusk, bright colors improve your visibility to traffic, she says. Bright colors also set you apart from the pack. Wearing neon yellow to boot camp, spin or krav maga guarantees you'll stand out in a sea of gray and black, she says.

“That extra bit of attention from your instructor — or Jake Gyllenhaal a few bikes over — is anything but silly,” Palad says.

Unlike other fashion trends, designing for women's fitness wear does not always have to follow the seasonal color palette, Lessner says. All year round, women love to wear bright and bold colors — neon yellow, hot pink and bright turquoise — to their workouts..

For prints, Lessner says black and white lace, floral and Aztec are popular. These prints change more often than the line's bright colors because they follow current fashion trends.

Women also should choose fitness wear based on quality and moisture-wicking, Lessner says. What girl wants to show up to her workout class in grungy and unflattering attire? She also recommends that your workout capris or pants have a gusset. And choose a waistband that fits you comfortably.

“A woman should always wear workout clothing that makes her feel confident and inspired for her morning workout, afternoon coffee and everything in between,” Lessner says. “Women can enjoy the skin they're in, and get a good sweat on, too.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

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