It took me a while (several years) but I finally found a brand of shorts that I can workout in, walk around in and lay by the pool in.
What’s the big deal?
Well let me share a little history with you.
Over a couple of decades I have learnt, mostly from trial and error, but also from observing some ridiculously dressed people who just didn’t have that voice in their heads. You know the voice? It usually speaks to you when you look at yourself in the mirror. It’s the voice that tells you NOT to wear the sweater that was a gift to you from someone who guessed your size wrong. The same voice should also tell you NOT to grow a moustache (unless it’s November).
For those individuals who never hear this voice, they will go ahead and wear something that either looks wrong or is functionally wrong.
Now before someone shouts at me for giving styling tips and fashion advice – this really has nothing to do with fashion. Also I’m not talking about the people who go to India on a week-long vacation and come back wearing a saree or the backpackers who go to South America and come back wearing Incan knitwear, or the lady in the farmers market I saw wearing MC Hammer trouser pants.
No…that is the subject for another blog post all together.
If you squat, lunge, jump, wrestle or do anything that requires a decent range of motion, whilst you’re sweating you need to wear something that has some give, some elasticity in the right areas. The styling and colour choices are down to individual taste here. I’m talking about clothing that does certain things functionally and also doesn’t do certain things.
Instead of talking about functionality it might be easier to look at things on this matter another way so let’s examine what a pair of shorts or pants shouldn’t do.
Yes. A pair of shorts or pants should not rip. I’m not talking about the material getting caught on something and ripping. I’m referring to a pair of short ripping from the stress of squatting.
My first short ripping event was in 1987. I was wearing a pair of denim shorts. I squatted, they ripped. Yes, they were denim and I apologise for that now, but it was the ’80’s. Denim everything was acceptable.
In 2004 I wore a pair of surfer style shorts -they seemed comfortable enough but they were 100% cotton. I squatted whilst doing some kettlebell work and they ripped. Annoying at best, you may think, but embarrassing at worst especially as I was in a public park.
In 2008, I wore a pair of long Nike pants. I remember the year because Obama was elected and there was a big fuss on the BBC news in the gym. It was cold so the long pants were appropriate. They had some kind of stupid mesh liner that did very little, other than get caught on my foot every time I put them on.
I squatted, they ripped. Now I’m not talking about a small tear in the material. This was a monstrous rip of immense proportions. From the front of the crotch all the way round and under to the top of my butt. I must have started some bizarre chain reaction. I was left standing in a gym, very self conscious wearing a skirt that used to be a pair of pants. I should have just worn a kilt in the first place and got on with it.
Cotton plus elastic, however, is a fine mix. It stretches but also returns to its original shape. The result? NO RIPPING.
Runners never have this problem. They wear small shorts with a liner and run as happy as Larry. They never squat so it’s not a problem.
Basketball players? Well, I’m old enough to remember players wearing short shorts. Now however, they wear these massive things that you could put on top of a boat and use as a sail.
Squatting in these big bad shorts is interesting. They won’t rip, which is a bonus, but because they are so large and floppy, if you are observing someone squat at the wrong angle you’ll get a view of the family jewels that you’d rather not have.
Long Leggings? Typically these are worn when it’s chilly. They work pretty well as they have plenty of elasticity. The well mannered gentleman will wear a loose fitting short over the top of these. They do make you feel like a ballet dancer at times which can be good or bad. You’ll get away with wearing just these and nothing else if you’re an elite athlete, because everyone will be looking at your naked torso when you’re doing your CrossFit workouts rather than any unsightly bulges (see #3)
2- Water absorption/repellence
Sweat is necessary. It cannot be avoided but it is fair to say that some people sweat excessively.
If you’re wearing a material that absorbs but looks wet, it will appear that you’ve wet yourself.
Both men and women experience this even the beautiful ones.
This may sound obvious but we should all wear something that fits, right?
That same year Obama got elected (the first time and I ripped the hell out of the Nike pants with the stupid lining), I wore a pair of rugby shorts. Good choice in some ways because they didn’t rip. They did, however, almost rip my gentleman parts. They were so restrictive at the bottom of the squat that I swear I could give Prince a run for his money as I could sing 3 octaves higher for about 10 minutes.
The problem is, the item of clothing has to fit well DURING movement, not whilst you’re looking at yourself doing nothing in the fitting room of a shop. The best example of this is during double unders. If your pants start falling down, you made a poor choice.
However, you certainly don’t want to get something that fits that little bit too snugly. Why? Well, rather than go into too much detail, you can use your imagination and think of lycra, smuggling vegetables or the foot of a camel.
Don’t do it.
Wear the right clothing for the right job.
4- Sexytime clothing.
Ladies – I love you but I don’t want to see you wearing gym-wear that should be worn in a fetish nightclub or gentlemen’s club.
The temptation may be to wear some of the latest gear that Camille wears but if you don’t have the body for it, select something that suits YOUR physique.
I have to hand it to Reebok. Despite their mad prices, they make some good clothing. Designed by CrossFitters for CrossFitters.
My personal favourites, however, are Hurley Phantom shorts.
They are wonderful. I have put them through all kinds of crap and now have a collection of around 7 pairs.
It might take you a while to find your perfect workout but in the end you will, if you spend enough money and time!
Let’s hope you don’t have to go through this:
As a side note let me say I have absolutely no affiliation with Nike, Reebok, Hurley or Chuck Norris in denim..