Sportswear Essentials for Beginners


If you’re starting out on a whole new exercise regime, it can be tempting to splash out on a whole new wardrobe. This is often a massive waste of money. There are some essentials that you can’t do without when you’re starting out – such as a good sports bra and supportive footwear – but there are others that really don’t need to cost more than an annual gym membership to do the job. Here is our guide to the two items you need the most.

Essential Support | Apparently breasts bounce around 8.5cm when you are running, skipping or jumping, no matter what their size. That’s why most women will need a sports bra. Without a well-fitting bra, your breasts could be permanently damaged – and exercising is not likely to feel too comfortable either. Damage to the breast ligaments can leave you with sagging boobs, and you may also suffer from breast, shoulder and back pain. They may not be the cheapest piece of underwear you will ever buy, but it should be fairly easy to see why they’re worth the money. If you’re between an A and a C cup, you could opt for a compression bra, which looks similar to a crop top. A good example of this is the Adidas by Stella McCartney Mesh-Paneled Stretch-Jersey Sports Bra, currently half price at £22.50 from Net-A-Porter. If you’re a B cup at least, and definitely if you’re bigger than a C, there are moulded bras, such as the Panache Full Cup Bra, which will offer the best support.

Always buy from a reputable brand. This is not a choice where you can afford to accept a compromise on quality. The Nike Pro Classic Logo Women’s Sports Bra, £26 from the Nike store, is ideal if your breasts are on the smaller side. It’s made from comfortable dri-FIT material and offers plenty of support without feeling restrictive. If you have a bigger bust and want as much support as Nike can offer, the Nike Pro Rival Women’s Sports Bra, £40 from John Lewis, is the choice for you. This allows for plenty of movement, but its wire-free support means that breast movement is comfortably restricted. The ultimate choice for fuller busts, however, is currently the Freya Active Sports Bra, £38 from Figleaves. This is the cream of the crop thanks to its high impact-resistant design, keep-cool mesh and Coolmax fabric, along with wide padded straps that can be adjusted to provide the highest comfort levels possible.

Must-Have Trainers | The wrong exercise footwear can lead to a world of problems and pain. You need to think about what type of exercise or activity you’re going to be doing. For running, it’s essential that you consider where you will be running, and you may even need to research the best footwear to suit the way your foot rolls. A good starting point is the Asics guide to gait analysis. A top general buy is a pair of Puma Ignite Running Shoes, £85 from the Puma store. These offer excellent cushioning and heightened comfort thanks to their super-thin tongue and air-mesh construction.

If you’re not planning on focussing on one single pursuit, you might be best to invest in a good pair of general exercise trainers. Some of the best around right now include the Nike Free TR 5 Breathe, £90 from the Nike store. Flywire technology ensures your foot stays stable, whilst the inclusion of six flex points allows your foot plenty of natural movement. For £40 less, you could grab a pair of Adidas’s new Arianna 3 Training Shoes, which boast a perforated, ventilated upper and EVA heel cushions for shock absorbency, or for £65 you could opt for a pair of Adipure 360.3 Shoes. These are all about the flexibility, mimicking your foot’s natural movement, making them ideal for any exercise requiring good balance. Both the Arianna and the Adipure are available from the Adidas store.