When I started my journey at 60 pounds heavier, I really had no clue what it meant to truly workout. Sure, I knew what if felt like to sweat, dripping my saltiness everywhere I went, how it soaked my clothes and even how much bad it made me feel.
During those first few months of workouts, I was so new to this that I didn’t even own a real t-shirt. Shortly before my first workout with my new trainer, I remember scrambling through my closet, looking for something to wear. I had shorts, albeit more leisurely shorts made of cotton. So, my first workout gear was nothing more than a cotton t-shirt and cotton shorts.
You know what happens to cotton when it gets wet? It sucks up moisture and hangs on to it as long as it can. When it does this during an hour long workout, your clothes not only get heavier and heavier, but your body is then wrapped up in a wet “towel”, preventing it from cooling off, so it sweats even more.
At the end of the workout, you must then extract the soaked clothing from the body. With a sweating body and sweat soaked clothing, there almost seemed to be a glue that was keeping them together. No amount of heaving and hoeing would make the clothing give. Already exhausted from the hellish workout, one must contort in ways never thought of. I quickly nicknamed this the “sweat dance.”
While my trainer and I had a rather amusing conversation around this topic, he suggested buying some actual workout clothes. While, I wasn’t wild about investing even more money into this fitness thing at that moment (joining the gym hurt the pocket book enough), fifty dollars for a set of actual workout gear (shirt and shorts) really was small potatoes in the grand scheme of things to come.
After making my purchase and proudly strutting through the gym wearing my new clothes that said “Champion” on them (a champion would settle for nothing less!), I immediately felt a difference. The difference wasn’t just about showing off the new clothes, the clothes made me feel different, especially after my first workout in the new gear.
First and foremost, I felt how much lighter the polyester based fabric was. By comparison, the heavy cotton felt like wearing a lead vest, whereas the polyester was almost like running around naked. This translated to even more of a weight difference during and after the workout. The polyester didn’t absorb the sweat nearly as much and it didn’t stick as badly to my body. The “sweat dance” quickly became a thing of the past in the locker room afterward.
Next, during the workout, I felt significantly cooler. The heavy, sweat soaked cotton was acting like a blanket, keeping heat in. The lightweight polyester by contrast, was light and airy, allowing the air to reach my skin and heat to be released. In fact on cool mornings, the amount of steam coming off my body is sorta like San Francisco in a fog. The fabric also dried very quickly. With improved body temperature regulation, my body could better handle the tough workouts.
After a few workouts, there was no going back to cotton. The freedom that well designed, lightweight fabrics can give the triathlete is a huge reason to say bye-bye to cotton. Sure, the investment is a little more than cheaper cotton, but performance always comes at a price.
This was the first of many gear purchases that would make my workouts more comfortable and, in turn, help me achieve my goals. Having the right workout gear is hugely important.