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As of today, I’m on my longest workout streak ever—164 days in a row and counting—and according to my Apple Watch, I’ve worked out for at least 45 minutes for 346 of the last 365 days. Considering I do not like exercise at all, that is a crazy sentence to write.
Because of all of this daily exercise (which has been a part of a year-and-a-half-long process of recovery after the birth of my second kid), I have tried an insane amount of workout gear. I’ve bought and tested everything from high-impact sports bras from legacy sports brands to the pretty, pricey matching sets you see all over Instagram, and today, I’ve rounded up a few key items that truly are worthy of a spot in your closet.
So why trust me over your go-to fitspo influencer? Well, I’m practical. While I love the industry-standard look of designer pastel sports-bra-and-legging sets, I refuse to spend that much money on clothes I sweat heavily in. And speaking of which, while all of those outfits you see on social look really cute, the majority also show every tiny sweat mark, which I personally don’t love. Long story long: If you’re interested in some hardworking essentials that last through a zillion workouts and washes, well, I’m your girl!
When it comes to sports bras, something that simply looks cute doesn’t really cut it. I need something that performs, pulls on overhead (I loathe a bra-hook closure on a sports bra or a front zip), and please, no padding. The dead-simple Nike Swoosh Dri-Fit Sports Bra works for me. It’s ideal for medium-impact exercise (like my favorite trampoline cardio), and I like its minimalist profile. Gap makes some nice, understated options too, like its Crossback Sports Bra, which is currently in my rotation.
You know I love a specific style of Free People’s leggings, as I mentioned in an earlier story, in no small part because they’re accommodating through weight fluctuations, and they never show sweat, even in the lighter colors! But that’s not the only style I swear by. I also love an extremely affordable option from Amazon: the Yunoga Ultra Soft High Waist Leggings. They’re less than $25, incredibly soft, and look excellent. I like the capri length because I’m not tall, but the full-length version works too.
Okay, I am a bit of a minimalist when it comes to workout shoes: I want them to be as simple as possible, period. Of course I also need them to last, be lightweight, and accommodate my high arches and wide feet. There is one style that does it all—and even works for my friends with narrow feet—and that is the Adidas Ultraboost. I only buy the classic black-and-white version, but yes there are other colorways. I have one indoor pair and one outdoor pair, which is weird, but I swear by it.
I wear whatever I slept in the night before. Seriously.
A friend of mine gave me a pair of Vans No-Show Socks a few years ago, and I’ve never gone back. They’re affordable and cute enough, and you never ever see them.
If you’ve been considering getting an Apple Watch, this is your sign to go for it. Tracking my exercise—plus how much I stand and move overall—has been so weirdly motivating. The Fitness app has legit gamified working out for me. You get digital badges as you complete goals and try new workouts, which is strangely charming. Plus, after you’ve had your watch for a few weeks, you get assigned a monthly goal that changes every month. I share my status with my dad, which is also wonderful if you are a competitive nerd. Being able to track my fitness journey with excellent data has been a game changer. I have the 41mm style with the Gold Milanese Loop band, and I wear it every single day.
The number one question I get asked—besides why I work out with my hair down, which annoys everyone—is which trampoline I have. I use a JumpSport 250, and it’s totally excellent for the price. I also recently borrowed a friend's Jumpsport 350, which is slightly more expensive, but I like the design a bit better. (The 250 has larger "petals" that go over the bungee cords, and I think I like the sleeker petal design of the 350 better.) There are a million options that are fancier, but I didn’t feel like investing until I knew if my at-home workout routine was a fad or not. Turns out I could have upgraded, but also like, why? It’s fine, this works, it’s doing great, sweetie.
You ask questions, and I answer, kind of like a non-disappearing AMA!
How do you find the motivation and time to work out every day?
Getting the right gear for my workouts has been one thing; getting my head right has been another. If you’re struggling to find the motivation to exercise—a feeling I know intimately—here are a couple of things that helped me. Amanda Kloots posted an Instagram story last year, in which she kindly, quietly reminded us that it is a privilege to be able to move your body. That there are people everywhere who wish they could get up and run around. That you owe it to yourself and to them to recognize your good fortune and to honor your health and, frankly, luck by moving your body on the regular.
And that really, really hit me. Even though I wasn’t who Amanda was talking about, I had a tiny bit of insight into that privilege. Due to a high-risk second pregnancy and postpartum complications, I couldn’t exercise for the 39 weeks I was pregnant, and it took me another eight months to heal from labor before I could get back to it.
The other thing that’s helped me is more logistical and involves a different type of privilege, in this case, a supportive spouse. Every morning, I do early duty with the kids then hand them to my husband at 7:15 a.m. and exercise in our living room when he’s feeding them breakfast. It’s the only “me” time I can count on every day, and I swear it makes me a more patient and happier partner, boss, colleague, friend, and parent.
You’ve been posting about The Ness workout classes lately; why do you like them?
I am always drawn to dance-based classes and have tried and loved a number of them over the years, including Tracy Anderson, LEKfit, and now The Ness. As for why I decided to try The Ness, well, I was influenced by Sophia Bush and Tracy Taylor, both of whom posted glimpses of their classes on IGS, and I thought it looked intriguing.
I signed up for the free seven-day trial before committing to the $40-monthly online membership and immediately liked that The Ness has a pretty wide range of classes. I also love how the app is organized: You can take classes by type or sort by the amount of time you have.
I am obsessed with the Advanced Cardio Bounce class because it’s a cardio trampoline class that is structured around simple choreography, and I find the combination of learning a “routine” and doing it over and over again gets my heart rate up to a challenging level and gets me out of my head. I have to be so focused on the steps and learning them because it moves pretty quickly, so the time goes by in what feels like seconds. The same is true with the Ness Sculpt classes, a full-body sculpt that builds out into a fully choreographed routine by the end and that works my brain and my muscles at the same time in a way I find really satisfying.
I never thought I would grow to love working out at home as much as I do, but I think it has been the key to my accountability. I used to drive an hour (30 minutes to a studio and back) to work out for an hour, and that’s just hard for me at the moment with two little kids, plus the pandemic of it all. If I were taking in-person classes at this level, it would cost somewhere around $750 a month, at least, versus the $40 I pay, so that makes it feasible as well.
Do you all have any tips or tricks for folks who need help getting motivated? Please leave them below in the comments! Here’s one of mine: I often save a podcast I’m really excited to listen to for my neighborhood walks. Knowing I have a good episode is sometimes the carrot I need to get up and go.