So you’ve decided to take the plunge and sign up for a class to get your fitness on but now you don’t know what to wear. I get it. As with the fashion industry, finding fitness wear for fat ladies is a trial. First you have to find a place that sells bigger sizes, next you have to deal with the “fat tax” (where plus size clothing is more money because they blah blah they use more fabric blah blah because we can). Finally, you have to walk into class or the gym wearing all that form-fitting exercise wear and that can be intimidating AF. Well let’s walk through this together, friend, because we are not letting clothes stand in our way.
First, let me give two disclaimers. One, I am by no means a fitness expert. I don’t know about moisture wicking or compression or whatever technical terms seem to be required on workout clothes lately. I just know what I’m comfortable in and what works for me. Second, you may notice I talk about Lane Bryant a lot. I’m not getting any money from them (ha! I wish) but I do shop there a lot. They aren’t perfect but I’ve found a lot of things from them that work for me. Now that’s out of the way, here are my tips for dressing for class.
1. Be comfortable – This actually guides all my clothing up to and including formal wear. If I’m not comfortable I’m not going. Wear what is going to make you most comfortable and will allow your body to move the way it needs to. Here are some things that I wear to class:
I live in these leggings almost year round (and get capri length for summer). They go with everything and are super comfy.
I also live in this tank top most of the year. I wear it by itself when it’s hot or layered under things when it’s cold. They don’t currently have a lot of the solid colors but that’s what I’ll wear most often in class. It’s a rare sleeveless item that doesn’t have giant armholes. It’s also not too tight and clingy, which I appreciate.
I tend to dance barefoot but I will wear footwear if I’m nursing an injury or my plantar fasciitis is bothering me. Spend the time to explore the support you need and wear it. For dance shoes, specifically you could go to a local dance store or go here.
2. Be prepared – Get a gym bag. Get a CUTE gym bag that you’ll love toting around. Stock it with everything you might need. Water, a small towel, maybe a granola bar, deodorant, spare hair ties, etc. If you think you might need it for class, put it in there. Also, make sure you have any supports or braces you might need in your dance bag just in case. I have a simple ankle brace and a brace that goes around my arch for plantar fasciitis. I get them at Meijer and don’t spend a lot of money.
3. Be confident – Look. I know this is the hardest part. Society wants to tell us that we’re fat because we’re lazy but society also doesn’t want to accept us in fitness spaces. Well, fuck all of that. Exercise is self-care. As I said in earlier articles, I don’t always love it, I’m not always good at it, but I notice a difference in my well-being when I do it regularly. One thing we can do is choose fat friendly places to exercise. One of the reasons I love belly dance so much is because it’s been, to me anyway, extremely accepting of a wide range of body types. However, this isn’t always the easiest thing to do so I’m going to ask you to be brave, walk in there, ignore the haters, and focus on YOU because you aren’t doing this for anyone else.
I’m always on the lookout for cute comfy workout (or working the couch reading a book) clothes so feel free to let me know all your great finds in the comments!
Alyssa is an elementary school teacher, amateur belly-dancer, and tea and book loving hermit. She enjoys taking pictures of weird things in antique malls to share with her 41 Instagram followers, unnecessarily dropping Hamilton lyrics into casual conversation, and wearing Harry Potter themed clothing. Alyssa regrets that her cat allergy prevents her from reaching full spinster status but makes up for it by possessing a really stellar teapot collection.
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