PHActive, Fresh and Functional: Plus Size Active Wear
I remember it like it was yesterday. Picture this, Beaufort, 2012… A friend and I were doing our “routine” exercise, he jogged/ran, I walked, but ultimately, we covered the same distance. As I was completing my walk, he was walking up the street to meet me. We were almost home and he looked at me and said, “Run with me. Go as slow as you need to, just run with me.” I started running, and all of a sudden I heard clapping. Now while most of us love to hear applause, what was different about this clapping was that it was coming from me. My thighs were clapping together as I ran and I stopped dead in my tracks. In my mind, I had “failed”. I rarely get super bummed about things or have regrets, but all I wanted to do was go upstairs, take a shower, and go by the water and cry.
Fast forward, because I’m sure you’re like what does this have to do with active wear? I feel as though I should share with you my mishaps that have allowed me to appreciate or look for certain things when shopping for active wear.
Another battle I had was finding panties that stayed in place during boot camp, Zumba, personal training, etc.. If you’ve ever had to run with panties running their own race in your butt, then maybe you can sympathize/empathize with me. And on the topic of underwear, it wasn’t until last year that I actually purchased sports bras. I was definitely able to appreciate the difference that one article of clothing made. So I’d like to share a few things that have worked for me. As my level, intensity, and variety of fitness has evolved, so have my active wear choices.
I started out in a Navy PT shirt and some black Danskin workout pants. They served their purpose and they were comfortable. My first pair of tennis shoes were donated to me because I refused to spend money on something that I rarely used. So my workout clothes were pretty basic and comfortable, but they provided no support, hence failing to hold my fat together so that I wouldn’t hear that dreaded clap.
As I established Be PHAcTive brand, my workout clothes changed a little. However, I was still in search of something that helped to silence that clapping sound. Now you may be thinking, why don’t you just lose weight and the problem will be solved. The truth is that I love the curve of my thighs, I just hate the extra, clap, and jiggle that come along with the territory. Therefore, when I try on Activewear, I always do the jump up test to see if I hear the clap. While I liked my colorful selections and loved the price, they still didn’t offer a sense of control. But they served their purpose.
Danskin can be purchased at a local Wal-Mart for a great price and they are really comfortable. The brand carries a variety of pants for all activities as well as various types and cuts of shirts. They are really affordable. On average, I paid approximately $15 for my pants and $7 for my shirts. I would count that as a bargain. They range in sizes from 2-24 and come in a variety of colors. My favorite pants were the active capri made of polyester and spandex. What I liked most about those pants were the drawstrings, because it can be distracting when you have to constantly pull your pants up during class or your workout. I have at least three pairs of pants that I purchase without strings that I never wear because they constantly fall down during my PHAcTivity, proving to not be very functional.
If you’re looking for convenience and a great bargain, I definitely recommend the Danskin brand. The biggest problem I have with those is losing the drawstring on one side, which means that I no longer have a drawstring closure. No drawstring in those pants means they won’t work very well for me. I suggest that you tie the drawstring before washing them to avoid the drawstring being lost in the waist of the pants.
In doing some research and trying to find the ultimate pant that helped control that clap that I keep alluding to, I was hoping that compression pants would be the answer. I was excited about Lane Bryant launching their Livi brand of active wear so I went to Lane Bryant to purchase a pair or two. I picked out two pairs of compression leggings and rushed to the dressing room. While the pants were comfortable and functional, once I jumped up and down in the room, I was slightly let down. As I did jumping jacks, there was the clap, clap, clap of my thighs. However, my pants didn’t move. I’m short, so I had lots of room to pull them up really high. I later learned that they generally stay in place, without a drawstring, which again to me is important when working out.
In addition to being a nice pair of pants to work out in, they accent my curves well and they look pretty good on me. They are compression pants, made of nylon and spandex, so they offered a little more control than other pants I had previously worn. I would recommend them. They were a little pricier that my Danskin pants, but I enjoy working out in them.
The pants range between $60-$70 dollars, but if you’re an avid LB shopper, you know how to properly utilize sales and coupons. They have been through several washes, and they haven’t faded, torn, or lost their control factor. The only complaint was that they didn’t come in lengths. As noted earlier, I’m short, so I have to purchase petites and I still have to get them hemmed at times. Other than the length, I really enjoy the comfort, control, and look they offer.
Finally, my third try at a different type of pants was a charm. I discovered the ONEder suit by Just Curves. While my initial hope for trying it had nothing to do with the clap factor (I had almost given up on help for that), but rather the aesthetics of the design, I was pleasantly surprised when I walked out and did my jump test and all I hear was SILENCE!! There was no clapping!!! That had to be one of the most empowering moments in PHAcTive history. Yes, I participate in a lot of activities, but that tiny factor makes me self-conscious every time I heard it, which impedes my productivity.
In addition to the suit being functional, it was also fresh (I got several compliments on how cute it was). I just happened to wear it to Glow POUND, so at one point, I decided to lift up my shirt, only to reveal my glowing bra. Needless to say, I removed my top and completed class sans shirt. The suit is designed to be worn with or without a top. I felt so liberated by the functionality of the suit that I left my top off and wore just the suit and my bra to Belly Dance class. My first time wearing the suit was for 3 hours of activity and I didn’t have to worry about my pants coming down as I moved, which was a great relief.
Before I deemed the ONEder suit the best piece of active wear that I’ve tried, I needed to put it to the test. I generally do weights/strength training and Aerial Yoga several times a week as well as a Booty Camp on Sunday’s. I felt like Booty Camp would be the final exam before I could give it my stamp of approval.
In Aerial Yoga, I ALWAYS have to choose a pair of pants with a drawstring or my Livi active pants because I have so much extra room that I can pull them up high enough to stay in place. That class involves lots of leg lifting, concentration, and inversions, so worrying about my pants coming down is just one more hassle that I don’t want to deal with. I inverted, did work on the floor with elevated legs, and executed several suspended maneuvers without having to worry about my pants shifting. They passed the Aerial Yoga test. Weights went well and I swear I sweated more on the elliptical than I had with other clothes.
My final test for the suit was on Sunday, at booty camp. Booty camp is full of running, jumping, squats, plyometrics, etc. So again, I don’t want to have to worry about losing my pants. Overall, I was pleased with them during booty camp, but I did have to do a little readjusting because the suit is probably made for a taller person, therefore, I had to keep pulling up the top of the suit. Otherwise, as I watched some of my classmates adjust their pants, I couldn’t help but smirk at the fact that in the ONEder suit, I didn’t have that to worry about.
Another important aspect of active wear one shouldn’t overlook are undergarments. In my opinion, the best panty ever is the Serenada panty girdle found at Catherines. They have this elastic type strip that keeps the panties in place as you move around. It feels great to run, jump, and dance without my panties literally getting in a bunch.
Finally, having a great bra can mean the difference between having a productive workout and feeling totally uncomfortable and unsupported. The only bra that I’ve tried thus far is Lane Bryant’s sports bra. I have purchased several and I do not have any complaints. They have ample coverage and great control.
While I haven’t tried a huge array of active wear garments, I have had positive experiences with all of the aforementioned. Each one offered different components that made each unique. But I have to admit that the ONEdersuit is my favorite. In addition to being a great looking piece, it offered the support that I had been looking for for years. In addition, there are other pieces on the Just Curves site that are super cute and I’m ready to try. So, if you think that functional and fresh Activewear doesn’t exist for plus size ladies then think again. Danskin, Livi, and Just Curves have proven to be great for the many PHAcTivities that I’ve tried. When you look good, you feel good, which ultimately means better performance.
Chontel is a blogger, PHAcTivist, and wellness coach dedicated to empowering others to live an active lifestyle, hence promoting a healthy balance between the mind, body, and soul. You can find more articles by her at www.bephactive.com. You can follow Chontel online on Facebook: Be Phactive and on Instagram: @bephactive