Workout Clothes That Defy Conventional ‘Activewear’

At Refinery29 Australia, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team, but we may earn commission or other compensation from the links on this page.
At some point during global lockdowns last year, workout clothes became the new (and only) #OOTD. Self-improvement marketing went into overdrive, with brands selling us the idea of utilising this time of pause to ‘get in to shape’, and chic workout wear was all the rage (but who was it for?)
When we think of activewear, we typically think of leggings, bike shorts and crop tops. But for some of us, the activewear boom isn't all that inspiring.
Though we’ve come some way in the journey towards body image neutrality, we have a long way to go when it comes to how accessible fitness really is. With most marketing featuring models and influencers who already work out, extensively, the glamourising of fitness can seem inaccessible for those more exercise-averse or just starting out. And when all the gear we're presented with is itty bitty and tight, what we end up with is the pressure to already be fit before even stepping inside of a gym (or outdoor space).
But the thing is, unless you're engaging in intense HIIT sessions, it doesn't necessarily bode any better for your body to be in tighter, compact clothing. After all, a lot of the activewear made for men has looser, more breathable fits. Just as functional, but sans the struggle of squeezing in or out of.
Realising this rather obvious sentiment has actually been a game-changer for me, and prompted me to look beyond what I'd usually think to wear when working out. Though womens’ activewear tends to be on the tighter, more daring side, there are plenty of options out there if you widen your search.
All you really need to be is comfortable. So as long as your activewear is weather-appropriate and allows you freedom of movement, there are no rules.
Click through for a round-up of the alternative pieces that I've swapped out my leggings and crop tops for.

More from Shopping