Big Girl’s Guide to Useful (and Useless) Workout Gear

Part of the fun (or futility) of a more active lifestyle is the gear. Even before I began working out, I remember looking longingly at those Super Fit people strolling about. You know, the ones that are so fit and important that they don’t even have time to change from their exercise clothes before going to the grocery store, bank, etc. (You can usually find the biggest culprits in the sports nutrition aisle of the grocery store, staring scientifically at exercise bars). I promised myself a while back while looking at one such Super Fit person at Whole Foods, that I, too, would be super obvious about my fitness one day. Maybe even on days I wasn’t working out, I’d still just strut around in spandex and stare at PowerBars in the grocery store.

All this goes to say that I really like fitness gear of all types (e.g. clothing, gadgets, stretchy band-like concoctions with no discernible purposes). Accordingly, this quasi-useful post will center around my misadventures with exercise gear.


All Big People know the frustration of trying to find workout apparel that fits you. Especially, when I first began working out, I often felt like this when I tried to squeeze slip into trendy outfits I saw other exercisers wearing:

And don’t even get me started on the perils of finding cycling apparel for Big People! (Seriously, don’t, I hadn’t planned on going into detail about that in this particular post).

Here are some useful and useless tips I’ve picked up:

Oversized Larger Clothing

Perhaps one of most important things about working out when you’re a Big Person is finding clothing that makes you comfortable. This is huge, because if you feel overly self-conscious, you are not likely to leave your front door, let alone jog or bike in front of others. You will probably have to get a little creative with your options if you–like I did–have a lot of weight to shed at first.

For instance, I remember strutting into the women’s fitness section in Target and staring glassily into the sea of booty shorts workout shorts and tanks. It doesn’t matter how many “XXs” are in front of the label when the shorts only come down to your hip bone–you won’t be comfortable! I finally sucked up my pride and ventured into the men’s fitness section. (You can pretend you’re shopping for your fabulous, Shemar-Moore-shaped hubby, if that makes you feel better  ;)). They may not have been the most fashionable, but they were functional.

One of my favorite options are the oversized tanks that somehow manage to swallow me whole and yet still be somewhat indecent at the same time!


(More astute readers will notice my toe, another gradual clue to my super-secret identity, in the bottom corner).

DIY (Destroy it Yourself)  

Of course, you can always get even more creative and spruce up your own apparel. For example, instead of the odd-fitting tanks, I tried to just cut out the sleeves on a tee that I found generally comfortable:


(The shredded remains of a former workout tee after I ‘fixed’ it)

Needless to say, ‘results may vary’ at first; but keep at it. With some patience and cheap tees, you can find fun ways to make yourself feel cuter in workout clothes.


I love gadgets. Which is a bit unfortunate since I’m not currently fit enough to justify purchasing some of those ridiculous, over-priced ones on the market (e.g. the invisible, underwater, gold-encrusted heart rate monitors). In the mean time, I entertain myself with cheap to mid-range gadgets that both amuse and/or help me out.


(I-pod mini shuffle–perpetually tangled headphones not included)

You can get one of these for less than 40 bucks a pop and they’re super convenient. Just clip it to your over sized tank and go for a jog.

(‘Super Hi-tech’ Water Bottle that may or may not Filter Water for You)


(Child Bike Bell)

To be honest, I’ve still yet to determine how useful these are, as they seem to either shock or mystify pedestrians on bike trails. But, at least it makes my bike look ‘super kewt’.


gatorade prime

(Tasty, but probably unnecessary ‘fuel’ for a leisurely 10 minute stroll and then nap)

I’ll go into this more in a later post, but to suffice to say there are TONS of delightful ways to waste money (and calories!) on super-scientific sports supplements. Maybe it’s just me, but, for some reason, when I started working out, I assumed I should suddenly start eating like an elite athlete. You know, all the trendy sports gels and bars without giving up the french fries, etc.

What I’ve learned, however, is that unless you are working out for hours or doing some serious weight training, there’s really no need for anything besides a bottle of water and a light, healthy, snack afterwards. Even now, after a really tough (for me!) workout session at the gym, I’ll just grab 8 ounces of chocolate milk and some fruit afterwards. No need to get fancy…yet.

Maybe one day, after I really am Super Fit and running marathons (psyche!) or something I’ll update this with actual hi-tech gadgets, etc. But, for the Average Jo/anna, all you really need is a smile and/or grimace, some water, and some determination to make it through.

Happy Trekking!