What to Wear for Every Type of Workout

indoor cycling

If you're starting a brand-new workout regimen in the new year, you might be at a loss for what to wear to your activity of choice. Whether it's your first kickboxing class or your first trip to your local cycling studio, discover which type of clothes provide the most function for each activity—plus a few product suggestions for you to stock up on!

Spin Class

This cardio-based activity can seriously build your lower body, and it's becoming even more popular thanks to the boutique-like studios popping up around the country. For a spinning class (or even just a session on your gym's stationary bike!), you'll want to wear something fitted on your lower half, so it doesn't snag or create resistance as you pedal the bike. We recommend a cropped workout legging, such as these high-rise training crops from Nike or, if you want something that breathes more, these cycling shorts from Athleta.

If you find you really love the pounding music and hard work that each sweat-session on the bike brings, Lululemon and SoulCycle have teamed up to create workout pieces that are specifically designed for indoor cycling. The To The Beat Tight 24" in particular are so comfy, you'll want to wear them in the saddle and out.

As for tops, feel free to pick whichever one you feel most comfortable in; also, most classes have caged-in pedals, meaning you don't even need to purchase specific shoes!


This ballet-inspired class mixes dance, Pilates and yoga, with a focus on using the traditional ballet barre to sink even deeper into the movements, so expect to outfit yourself in semi-fitted to fitted clothing. Under Amour's studio line is a great place to start; here you can find a studio pant you like, such as the Mirror Straight Pant, and pair it with a studio tank, like the UA Pinnacle. Both of these items are light, breathable and cling to the skin enough that they won't hinder your movements. 


Other than running, kickboxing is probably the highest-intensity activity on this list, meaning you'll want to invest in quality workout pieces (if you don't already have some) before you start taking classes. Make sure to choose a sweat-wicking, well-ventilated pant, such as this Time to Sweat crop from Lululemon that removes moisture from the body and is constructed with a four-way stretch material, so it can truly move with you. Stick to a lightweight tank on top, like this option, which has a high-neck for max coverage so you can duck and jab without worrying about the front gaping open.


Pilates is focused on smaller, controlled movements that aim to strengthen, tone and stretch muscles, and classes usually take place on a mat or Reformer machine. Due to the nature of the class and the moves involved, you'll want to wear semi-fitted clothing that doesn't bunch or ride up as you perform the different movements. Athleta's website has a whole Pilates section where you can easily find appropriate clothing, such as its classic Stash Pocket Tight paired with the Semi-Fitted Tank. Shoes are typically not needed for Pilates. 


If you're starting a new yoga practice this year, you may need to stock up on some yoga essentials, and there are plenty of brands committed to yoga-wear specifically. For a class, you'll want clothes that are very fitted since even in a beginner's class, you'll likely be performing moves that could cause clothes to bunch or fall down your front, taking you away from your practice. Most yogis swear by a fitted bra tank, such as this one from Gaiam, which has built-in, medium-level support (one less layer to worry about!) and a compressive fit. Pair with any legging you already own, and you're in business! Shoes are not needed for yoga.


Yes, you can run in almost anything, but if you want to be as comfortable as possible, stick to sweat-wicking, well-ventilated materials, such as this best-selling mesh crop from the running brand Brooks, paired with its LSD jacketfor breathable coverage on top. However, as any runner knows, the gear that truly makes or breaks your run is the footwear, and we recommend you don't just throw on whatever shoes you already have in your closet. Flip through our most recent shoe guide to find your perfect pair of running shoes.


Unlike some fitness activities, walking is simple and cheap—and that applies to clothing, too. With walking you have more leeway to wear what's comfortable, since there is little concern about clothes snagging or needing to invest in fancy sweat-wicking material to keep cool. We suggest going with a track pant or jogger for a loose, comfortable fit down below. You can also pair with a simple, long-sleeve breathable tee on top. Unless you're hoping to hit very high mileage—or to do your walks on challenging outdoor trails—an everyday pair of sneakers are all you need to get the job done.

Water Aerobics

Water aerobics may seem like a daunting activity to outfit yourself for, but all you need is swimwear you feel comfortable in that also allows for a wide range of motion. We recommend investing in a quality, fitness-oriented swimsuit such as this racing swimsuit from Speedo USA. Remember: Simple is best for water aerobics. You want to feel well-supported, well-covered and able to perform all the moves without a second thought as to how your attire is holding up. Swim cap and swim shoes are not required for most classes.

READ THE NEXT: Your Guide to the Most Common Group Fitness Classes

About the Author

Jackie Veling

Jackie Veling is a past Senior Editor at ACTIVE.com. She’s passionate about overall wellness and body positivity, and her favorite way to stay active is through running. You can follow her on Twitter.

Jackie Veling is a past Senior Editor at ACTIVE.com. She’s passionate about overall wellness and body positivity, and her favorite way to stay active is through running. You can follow her on Twitter.

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