Best Compression Tights: top three

Compression-Sportswear-Guide

Having explored the key characteristics of compression clothing in my Essential Guide to Compression Sportswear, I decided to hunt down a few pairs of genuine compression tights to trial.

I opted to try two pairs of tights from leading global compression garment brands, 2XU and SKINS. The third pair is from a small, new UK sportswear brand that I came across by chance earlier this year.

Here, I’ve reviewed all three pairs. I’ve taken into account the unique concept offered by each brand, other technical features of the products (you know I love this kind of geekery!) and of course, the fit and sizing of each pair of tights. I hope this helps you learn what to look out for when finding your own perfect pair of pants!

2XU-MCS-Elite-Compression-Technology
2XU-MCS-Elite-Compression-Tights

2XU MCS

As a lover of the 2XU brand (I’ve previously written about their Heart Not Hype Campaign), I was excited to try their newest tights, the Elite MCS Compression Tights.*

The Concept

As you may notice from the images, it appears as if the tights have anatomical mapping on them. Although visible from the outside of the tights, these are unique panelling points incorporated into the inside of the leggings. They are what 2XU refer to as Muscle Containment Stamping (MCS).

”MCS is a revolutionary fabric support system traced over key muscle, tendon and fascia groups to focus greater compression power to wrap precise areas and reduce muscle oscillation and damage.”

Technology + Features

In addition to MCS, the Elite Compression Tights differ from 2XU’s Standard Compression Tights, by using specific fabric deniers (see my Essential Guide to Compression Sportswear for a definition of that!) in different areas.

Front panels are engineered with PWX FLEX (70 denier) fabric combined with MCS focused to the quads, while rear panels are engineered with an even more powerful PWX WEIGHT (105 denier) fabric for support to the hamstrings and MCS focused to the calf.

As you’d expect from this calibre of compression sportswear, the fabric is sweat wicking, antibacterial, offers UPF 50+ sun protection, and flatlock seams for comfort.

Fit + Sizing

This was the first time that I’d come across any kind of sport or clothing brand where your recommended size is determined not by regular measurements, but by your height and weight.

As is the case with all compression clothing, 2XU advise that when you fall on a borderline between sizes, you should opt for the smaller of the two.

I fell on the borderline between small and medium, however the team at 2XU sent me over a size M to trial, so I’m unsure how much benefit I’m receiving from them. They are tight, but having tried other compression clothing, I know that they could be tighter, and I’d have loved to have experienced their full benefit (including an extra bum-lifting/sculpting effect!).

These are high waisted and they have a drawstring waistband for adjustability. While I’ve always thought that a drawstring waistband isn’t particularly sleek or flattering on tights, having tried other compression tights, I can say that this is the best way to ensure that the fit is the best that it can be for the optimal performance.

The 2XU Elite MCS Compression Tights are available on the 2XU website for £110, as well as on amazon at a cheaper price of £98.99.

Skins-A400-Womens-Compression-Tights
Skins-A400-Compression-Tights

SKINS A400

Like 2XU, SKINS specialises in offering well-researched, technical compression garments. I love that they have research summaries available on their website.

I got in touch with the brand to find out more about their research, and consequently decided to trial [SKINS A400 Women’s Tights].*

The Concept

What sets the A400 range apart from SKINS’ others, is the use of what they call Dynamic Gradient Compression.

”All previous compression measurements have been carried out on athletes standing still. SKINS worked with the scientific and industrial research organisation in Australia to develop a device capable of taking multiple readings of the human body in motion. We hooked up SKINS athletes and for the first time ever, were able to accurately measure compression on muscles in motion – as they change shape with increased levels of oxygen-fuelled blood pumping through them.”

I’d be interested to learn more about how this knowledge is built into the garments.

Technology + Features

As well as the above, SKINS A400 tights have 50+ UV protection, sweat wicking and temperature regulating properties, and 360-degree reflective graphics.

The downside to the fabric? It’s very sheer. SKINS commented,

”With regards to the material, it is designed not only for compression, but also for temperature regulation... we wanted it to be as lightweight as possible. We would recommend that you wear same coloured underwear with your SKINS.”

I wore Lululemon Light as Air Thong in Black with my SKINS. I believe that this underwear really is the gold standard in workout underwear (and actually, underwear in general), being lightweight, smooth, and seam-free. But with my SKINS, it was still visible. When walking, when squatting. Even the SKINS inner label is visible through the tights. Obviously, I could cut it out, but that’s not really the point here.

Essentially, despite loving the fit of these tights, I’m never 100% confident in them, and I don’t want anything standing between me and a kickass workout.

Fit + Sizing

It’s a shame that the fabric is a little too ‘lightweight’ because the fit is great. As well as a wide, thick waistband (which sits a little lower than the tights by 2XU), the leggings generally fit brilliantly. The style is flattering and I feel held in.

The SKINS A400 Women's Long Compression Tights are available from the SKINS website for £100. They can also be found on amazon for as little as £78.79 depending on the size.

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Boom-Boom-Athletica-Compression-Waistband

Boom Boom Athletica 26.2 Leggings

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of modelling some sportswear for Boom Boom Athletica. They are a relatively new brand to the sportswear market, launching with a limited edition run of their high performance collection. I’ve been trialling the 26.2 Leggings.*

The Concept

The brand was founded by Ann Johansson who is an ultra-marathon runner, keen to infuse style with functionality.

I’ve been a fan of cut-outs and mesh inserts on garments for more years than I can count, so I’m pleased that developments in technology have enabled them to become more widely used, especially in performance sportswear.

The mesh panelling on the Boom Boom Athletica garments are strategically placed to not only look gorgeous, but to ensure breathability where you need it. In the leggings, the mesh is focused at the back of the knees.

Technology + Features

The fabrics used by Boom Boom Athletica possess all the technical features expected of performance sportswear, such as breathability and moisture-wicking properties.

While I’m not an endurance athlete by any means, I can totally appreciate that these pieces would be great for a triathlete. They are chlorine, sunscreen and oil resistant, as well as UPF50+ rated.

Finally, my favourite part, they are high-compression garments. The fabric boasts 35% elastane, which is the highest percentage that I have seen in sportswear. As well as providing the benefits associated with compression, the garments retain their shape really well.

Although I haven’t tried them myself, I can’t not mention the Front Row Spin Leggings, which are truly unique to the sportswear market. The leggings have a custom insert in the ‘underneath’ area for added comfort when on a bike or in spin class.

The insert is manufactured by a specialist supplier more typically associated with £200+ cycling shorts. However, this insert is super discreet and, in fact, took me a while to spot; nothing like the visible heavily padding characteristic of cycling gear.

Fit + Sizing

Being super high-compression, these leggings fit tight. This is obviously intentional. They are a little hard to pull on initially, but don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to jump up a size.

I think it’s pretty important to mention that these leggings are low rise. A hypoallergenic silicone ‘seal’ around the inner waistband has been applied for ‘safeguarding’.

If you are a lover of the low-rise, I would highly recommend these because I haven’t seen any other genuine compression leggings with such a low-rise waist.

I personally graduated from low-rise pants (leggings, jeans, or otherwise) a few years ago, so this is the only thing that lets the leggings down slightly for me. I think this is partly because I’m used to a higher rise legging, but also due to my body shape.

Whether it’s because the waistband is a little loose or the legs can’t cope with the extreme stretch required to accommodate my quads, I don’t know, but they don’t seem to settle in a very comfortable place for me.

There are only so many times that I can lunge around the room and replicate The Ministry of Silly Walks to encourage them into a comfortable position.

The Boom Boom Athletica 26.2 Leggings can be found on the Boom Boom Athletica website for £98.

##My Verdict In case you hadn't already guessed, my favourite tights were the 2XU Elite Compression Tights. I love the sleek design, anatomical mapping included, as well as how high rise they are, how flattering they are, and how well they stay in place.

As I mentioned, I'd like to try a smaller size in these to see how they compare and whether I notice greater performance benefits.

The 2XU tights are my go-to compression tights. I very rarely reach for either of the others as I don't feel 100% confident in them, but this is purely a personal thing and is no reflection on their compression capabilities.

It is also worth mentioning that the tights discussed here are also available in different colourways and/or lengths.

However, a little word of advice: I always opt for a full-length tight for compression to avoid a 'cankle' effect!

Have you used compression sportswear before? Please let me know your favourite pieces by commenting below or tweeting me @_nataliejohanna!

Essential Guide to Compression Sportswear

Essential Guide to Compression Sportswear

My biggest question with compression clothing is always ‘what qualifies it to be labelled as a compression garment?’. The word ‘compression’ seems to get thrown around a lot in the activewear market and I always wonder quite how justified its use is. 

The problem is, there doesn’t seem to be any definitive answer to this question. So, being ever curious, I’ve spoken with brands, analysed product labels and descriptions, trawled through a number of research journals and scoured patents to try and find an answer myself.

I feel it’s so easy for people to be misled by brands referring to their products as compression garments, when the product is no more technical and has no more R+D behind it than a standard pair of running tights. 

So, I am urging you to question where you spend your money, and what your sportswear can actually do to help you improve. Whether you’re a bodybuilder, runner, cyclist or gymnast, here’s what you need to know:

Read More

Sweaty Betty Sports Luxe SS'15

SWEATY-BETTY-DELUXE-STUDIO-BAG

It’s no secret that I adore Sweaty Betty, and especially their sports luxe pieces. I still remember my excitement when Sweaty Betty announced the launch of their sports luxe range at their AW’14 preview (link) and I’m just as excited about their second stunning collection for SS’15. What sets SB apart from other designers of sports luxe style apparel is that they always always maintain ultra-functionality alongside the gorgeous designs.

Deluxe Studio Holdall

I’m forever getting compliments on this bag wherever I am; from the gym to at job interviews (no, seriously!). It comes with me almost everywhere because it is everything that I need in a bag.

Being black, on black, on black, the Deluxe Studio Holdall looks super-sleek. The main structure itself is neoprene, with all-black hardware and straps.

I love it because it fits my lifestyle perfectly. I typically hop between gyms and classes, to university and coffee shops, so as well as holding my workout kit (between the main compartment, shoe pocket and yoga mat straps), it’s ideal that it has a padded laptop sleeve for my Mac. I’ve also used it on numerous occasions as an overnight bag.

My only complaint is that when using the shoulder strap, the poppers aren’t strong enough to hold the bag in the boxy shape that I love. Aside from that though, I can’t get enough of this bag.

SWEATY-BETTY-SPORTS-LUXE

Tesselate Luxe Leggings

The monochrome tesselate print is another highlight of the collection. I opted to incorporate the print into my wardrobe with the Tesselate Luxe Leggings*. While there are aspects of the leggings that I really like, in hindsight, I should have probably opted for the Honeycomb Luxe Pants instead.

The leggings are impossibly soft with a luxurious feeling ribbed waistband that feels like you’re being hugged. That, I love.

However, because of the knitted style of the leggings, the stretchiness isn’t as generous as other SB styles. For me, this meant that they were hard to pull over my muscular thighs and bum, while still being a little looser than I would like on the waist. Also, because of the knit, I’ve experience a few loose threads and fraying after a few wears.

I still think that they’re beautiful leggings, but just not right for me.

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Time Out Luxe Jacket

The Time Out Luxe Jacket* is another of my current favourite pieces and perfect for transitioning from winter, through spring, and onto summer.

I love the anatomy of this jacket. As with all Sweaty Betty pieces, there are so many features and a lot of attention to detail. My favourite elements are the storm cuffs with thumbholes and the external zip pockets (honestly, even the feel and quality of the zips makes such a difference).

The jacket is a jersey cotton with a neoprene feel, which gives it a unique look and structure. I’m always a fan of a flattering dropped back hem too.

It’s also worth noting that although the faux sleeves fit snug, they are soft and stretchy enough that it’s possible to fit a jumper underneath very comfortably. Perfect!

SWEATY-BETTY-SPORTS-LUXE

Steady Luxe Knitted Jumper

As soon as I saw the collection, I fell for the beautiful honeycomb knit of the Steady Luxe Jumper*.

The shape of this jumper and it’s super-flattering, waistband-skimming length makes it perfect for layering. I usually pair it with a black vest, leggings and some black wedge trainers for a relaxed, sporty vibe.


I’ve really nothing left to say about Sweaty Betty’s sports luxe collection. Simply, they pieces are versatile, functional and stylish, and I can’t wait to see what’s on the cards for AW’15!

If you haven’t already, check out my thoughts on the SB x Richard Nicoll collaboration, and shop the collection here.

2XU #HEARTNOTHYPE Campaign

2XU-HEARTNOTHYPE-STATE-OF-THE-HEART

#HeartNotHype is the new and innovative global campaign from 2XU. In case you aren’t familiar with the brand, the name, 'two times you’, represents their mission to multiply human performance. The campaign officially launched at the end of February, and a variety of activity is running across multiple channels, making the campaign hugely engaging and informative.

There are some really great sports and fitness brand campaigns emerging at the moment - I recently wrote about Reebok’s fantastic Be More Human campaign here - and this is is another of my favourites.

HEART NOT HYPE - WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

2XU’s products are all designed using science and compression technology, considering the importance of the blood and the heart in performance and recovery. However, this campaign isn’t just about physiology of the heart, it’s about passion.

The heart is our engine. It drives our blood and feeds our muscles. It shapes our recovery and optimises our performance. 2XU Compression supports our engine and shapes how we recover, train and perform. It’s about heart, not hype.

The campaign is about putting heart into your performance, whatever and however that may be. It may be about expressing yourself through dance, or pushing yourself to your limits in the weights room, but ultimately it’s about doing what you do for the love of it (heart) and not just performing in anticipation of rewards and success (hype).

HEART FILM

The emotive heart film for the campaign features athletes across various sports talking about wanting to be famous for their hearts, not their faces. The film captures the athletes' journeys as they train and put their heart into their workout.

The film makes it clear that it’s not about seeking fame or glory through performance, but putting heart into their performance and how the physiological benefits of wearing 2XU enables them to perform better.

HEARTNOTHYPE SUMMIT

To kickstart the campaign, 2XU hosted a #heartnothype summit in New York, with a panel of experts from across the world of sports performance discussing whether the heart can be trained to perform from both a physiological and an emotional perspective.

I tuned in to the live streaming and was fascinated by everything that they had to say. The abundance of research behind the 2XU products is incredible, and because they are so genuinely effective, they are used not only by athletes but by the military and by people simply looking to optimise wellbeing and recovery.

If you get chance, I highly recommend watching the on demand version of the #heartnothype summit (there’s also a shorter video of the summit highlights) to hear what the experts have to say.

HEARTNOTHYPE-2XU-SUMMIT

ULTIMATE PERFORMANCE TRAINING CAMP COMPETITION

Alongside the campaign, 2XU have also launched a competition to win a trip to an Ultimate Performance Training Camp in California, which includes:
+ Return flights to California, USA
+ 3 nights aoccommodation, meals + transfers
+ Extreme cross-training sessions
+ Strength, movement + mobility training
+ Recovery sessions
+ Speed + agility training
+ Sports nutrition, insights + advice
+ Training alongside + under the guise of world leading sports instructors, athlete + psychologists!

Simply head over to website and follow the instructions to enter, and be ready to share what putting heart into performance means to you.

2XU COMPRESSION PRODUCTS

I’m currently in the process of trialling some of the incredible 2XU gear, so look forward to another post soon detailing the specifics of how the products work, as well as my thoughts on the kit. In the meantime, get inspired by #heartnothype!

#workit with adidas + the SS15 training collection

Adidas-SS15-Training-Collection

To celebrate their Spring/Summer ’15 women’s training collection, adidas have launched the #workit series. Each month, adidas is teaming up with different training experts to provide exclusive access to sought-after sessions from the London fitness scene.

January saw adidas team up with The Skinny Bitch Collective, but this month adidas have joined forces with cult fitness studio Frame. Instructional videos featuring super-simple exercises from the experts can be found on the adidas Facebook page.

I was lucky enough to head down to Frame's Shoreditch studio to sample the signature sessions, the latest adidas training kit, and healthy adidas cupcakes (see my Instagram for evidence) for myself.

FRAME

Frame was created from the belief that being fit should be fun and offer a great variety of fitness, dance, yoga and pilates classes. They have also designed their own signature workouts including Frame Method, Frame Work and Body by Frame (all featured in this month’s #workit series!).

I’d been intrigued by Frame for a while and my first sampling of their signature workouts didn't disappoint. After an hour of cardio, conditioning, and burning isometrics, my muscles were on fire and I loved it. It’s worth checking out the exercises on the adidas women Facebook page for some workout inspiration.

Adidas-SS15-Training-Collection-Track-Jacket

ADIDAS SS15 TRAINING COLLECTION

I’m super-impressed with the newest adidas training collection. As well as the design and technology of the pieces, the colours in the adidas SS15 training collection, tangerine orange and cobalt blue, are gorgeous.

I’ve been wearing:

adidas Infinite Series Racerback Bra

I love the mesh panel in the back of this bra, ensuring plenty of ventilation and making it look super sleek and on-trend.

What really impressed me about this sports bra was seeing the amazing range of sizes on offer; from 2XS to XL in an AB cup size, and 2XS to XL in a CD cup size (which also has an adjustable back closure), it’s possible to find a personalised fit.

adidas Climachill Tank

This is a workout wardrobe staple; a black tank top with a twist. The Climachill mesh-like fabric feels amazing, and the aluminium-silver dots placed on the inner-neck of the top conduct heat away from the body.

adidas Ultimate Fit Shiny Tights

While I have quite a variety of workout pants, I have been missing something quite as electric as these! I love the colour and stylish sheen of these pants as well as the super-light and sweat-wicking Climalite fabric.

adidas Track Jacket

This is the ultimate cover-up and my favourite piece from the collection. As well as having the essentials - pockets, hood and cosy thumbholes - it has a wide, stretchy hem for a flattering fit. What I especially like is the honeycomb-like quilted texture of the fabric, which makes it feel extra luxurious.

I also love working out on this adidas yoga mat which perfectly compliments the collection.

Have you tried any pieces from the new adidas training collection?

Remember to hop over to the adidas Facebook page to check out the #workit videos. I can’t wait to see who adidas team up with for March!

*Thank you to David Lloyd for giving me access to the wonderful gym at Chelsea Harbour Club

Reebok "Be More Human": A Brand Campaign To Be Excited About

Reebok Be More Human Spartan Race

At the beginning of this month, Reebok launched their new fully-integrated marketing campaign, “Be More Human”, and as soon as I spotted it, I fell in love with it. It’s a brand campaign that I’m really, genuinely excited about. I love that the concept encourages people to live up to their full potential and to be a better human, not just a better athlete. 

“How will you honour the body you’ve been given?"

This notion is in keeping with the new brand logo that was revealed last year: the Reebok delta. While the delta is a symbol of change, the Reebok delta has three distinct parts, representing the physical, mental and social changes that occur when people push themselves beyond their perceived limits and embrace an active and challenging life.

What I especially like about this multi-channel campaign, is that there are so many elements to explore and immerse yourself in.

Freak Show: The Brand Film

It was the Freak Show brand film that first drew my attention to the new campaign. I found it totally captivating and motivational. It acknowledges fitness as a lifestyle and a means of self-improvement.

“We’re not out here flipping tyres to be better tyre flippers. We’re doing it to be better, period… Better, stronger, more determined humans."

Be More Human Online Experience

The Be More Human Experience is the online destination of the multi-channel campaign, where there are lots interactive tools to discover. 

Grey Matters

A better workout can build a better brain, and this interactive grey matter visualiser shows you how. 

Science shows that a proportional relationship exists between the intensity and complexity of our exercise and the amount of benefit to the brain. This element of the Be More Human Experience demonstrates how different activities stimulate neurotransmitters (emotion and cognitive action), the cerebellum (smooth mental and physical movement), the corpus striatum (TBC), the hippocampus (memory) and the frontal cortex (executive functioning). It’s totally fascinating!

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The Human Score

Science journalist David McRaney was asked by Reebok to design The Human Score test. It looks at human traits and the role that physical fitness plays in the equation. The Human Score Video explains the background of the test a little more...

“Many studies have shown that grit outperforms talent in many situations…"

I love stuff like this and couldn’t wait to take the test. It was really simple, fun and eye-opening; it made me think about the things that I value. I think that my score and description are pretty accurate too!

Reebok The Human Score The Blonde Ethos Results
Reebok The Human Score Brain Buff The Blonde Ethos

What’s your human score? Leave me a comment or tweet me to let me know!

Break Your Selfie

Finally, the #BreakYourSelfie element of the campaign is all about capturing you and your life with fewer filters. Reebok are encouraging people to post pictures of themselves at in their broken, sweaty, post-workout states. 

My Verdict

I really like the inspiring and gritty vibe of the campaign, but I’m not sure that I could be fully immersed in the concept of non-stop punishment, spending every day ‘beaten, and muddy, and sore’ (is that really good for anyone?!).

However, I love the idea that tough fitness has the power to transform lives, sharpen the mind, strengthen human bonds and liberate human potential. I fully endorse constant progress and pushing your personal limits. I’ve been totally inspired by this campaign. Have you?

Sweaty Betty x Richard Nicoll Collection Launch at Psycle London + Review

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Following the unveiling of the Sweaty Betty x Richard Nicoll collection at London Fashion Week back in September, I was invited down to Psycle London for a sweaty morning spin with Sweaty Betty before seeing the 9-piece capsule collection for myself.

Sweaty Betty x Richard Nicoll Capsule Collection

My day-to-day outfits reflect my huge love of sports luxe clothing, and I was really excited, and immediately captured, by the Sweaty Betty x Richard Nicoll capsule collection.

As well as looking super elegant, in part due to the soft colour palette, a sporty edginess has been achieved with reflective touches and high performance fabrics and features. Even from a distance, technical and functional aspects of the designs were obvious, from zipped pockets to headphone loops. All of the pieces possess the premium quality that I would expect from the collaboration of such inspiring brands.

The stunningly beautiful pieces are available to buy from February 2015, and I’m especially eager to get my hands on the Muiura tee and the Nui layered tank. 

Psycle London Review

I’d popped into Psycle London on Mortimer Street before but had never had the chance to stop by for one of their bike-based workouts until now. I couldn’t have imaged how much I had been missing out!

From my previous drop in, I knew that the facilities are amazing (even the changing rooms are super sleek-looking and have towels and other essentials provided) and that the staff were incredibly friendly and helpful, but now that I’ve had the chance to get a taste of the classes, I can 100% recommend this fitness destination.

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The Workout

Cleated shoes are worn by everyone in all classes, which increases the connection between the leg and the bike. Along with spending most of the time out of the saddle and in the hover position, the increased connection really helped to get my hamstrings and glutes working more than they have in any other studio cycling class I’ve been to - exactly what I love!

What I didn’t expect though was to get such a shoulder workout from a bike-based class. After variations of handlebar press ups, as well as an upper-body focused track using handheld weights, my arms were pretty sore!

Our instructor, Rhian, was amazing and her enviable physique (including ultra-sculpted arms!) kept me motivated throughout the session. She looked incredible modelling some pieces from the SB x Richard Nicoll collection.

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The Music

With my exercise background mainly revolving around dance, I love working out to music. While lots of studio cycling classes have music playing, I’ve yet to experience any classes that really use the rhythm in the way that Psycle do. They compose playlists, not just with BPM in mind, but to influence the mood and energy levels of the class, which definitely helps you to forget how hard you’re working!

In fact, the playlists are such an iconic part of the workouts at Psycle that some of them have been made available on Spotify.

On their website, Psycle say that:

“with the lights turned down, the music turned up and everyone working together, an energy is created that inspires people to workout to the best of their ability”

- I definitely can’t argue with that! I can't wait to book onto another class.

If you're a Sweaty Betty fan, you might also be excited to know that ‘The 12 Sweaty Days of Christmas’ competition is back for another year as of 1st December. Everyday, on the Sweaty Betty Facebook page, there will be prizes to be won, from spa breaks to SB gear to personal training sessions. Get involved!

Wearing: Dedicate Luxe Vest* - Sweaty Betty, Leggings - Vie Active

**Photo credit: Sweaty Betty/Natalie Watts

The Perfect Sports Bra + My Fabletics Experience

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I remember being intrigued by Fabletics when the activewear retailer launched State-side, mainly because the brand's co-founder is the loveable, active and bubbly Kate Hudson. So, I'm really excited that they launched in the UK this summer; not least because their expansion across-the-pond lead to one of my favourite fit-fashion discoveries.

The Perfect Sports Bra for Smaller Boobs

Introducing my new favourite sports bra: the Fabletics Koia.

I'm going to launch straight in here by stating the obvious: I'm not very curvy. I find it notoriously hard to find a good fitting, supportive sports bra (because, yes, even girls who are smaller up top still require support) that isn't completely unflattering. If ever I have discussed this problem with a girl suffering from the opposite issue, my complaints have generally been met with a rolling of the eyes. I'm not complaining about my figure, let me make that clear, but I honestly struggle to find good-fitting gym tops. I've previously spent hours in stores such as lululemon, trying style after style, only to be met with annoying gaping from one angle or another, so I was especially dubious when it came to ordering online.

Thankfully though, Kate Hudson and her team have embraced what she refers to as "the most challenging aspect of the process of designing activewear": taking every body type into consideration. The Koia Sports Bra boasts four-way stretch and moisture wicking properties, but the features that really sold it to me were the removable cups that ensure it maintains a flattering shape and the unique cut; a complimentary V-neck and unusual cut-out back. I love this soft heather grey/mint julep colourway but I can't wait to add some other shades to my collection too.

The Fabletics VIP Service

One of the things that attracted me to Fabletics was hearing that you could get your hands on an entire 2- or 3- piece gym outfit for as little at £22. To be honest, usually this would have put me off as I would have assumed the quality to be sub-standard, but the at the time, I was at an event where lots of other fitness fanatics were flaunting Fabletics' perfectly-fitting, stylish designs, which survived a gruelling few rounds of circuit training.

So, how do you get high-quality, hip activewear with such an appealing price tag? The answer is to sign up to the site's VIP membership. Complete outfits for VIP Members start from only £44, a saving of up to 40%, but your first item, which can be one of these outfits or one of the stylish separates, is half price! As part of the membership, your account will be debited £44 each month, enough to buy you an entire outfit, customised based on your lifestyle quiz. What I love though, is that there's never any obligation to buy (I've skipped a couple of months myself), and there's also the option to check out as a regular customer (although, minus the perks).

My Fabletics Experience

Unfortunately, I didn't benefit from the aforementioned half price item on my first order. Well, I did, until that item had to be returned. My initial order was for the Gaviota Capri PantsLima Capri Pants and the Koia Sports Bra. The latter of the two were described as being the same colour way: the high intensity print. However, when they arrived it was clear that the prints were not the same. The fundamental pattern was identical but while the trousers had a green-hue to the print and stitching, the bra was more purple, red and pink based with dark edging. The fabrics were similar, but not similar enough, and wearing the two together made me feel a little jester-like. 

As for the Gaviota Capri Pants, I simply needed to exchange for a size up because the mesh panels, which I adored, didn't benefit from the same amount of stretch as the rest of the fabric. However, after a couple of incidents of the courier not showing up to collect my return, and a two-week wait for Fabletics to confirm receipt of my items, I decided to arrange a refund instead (by that time, I had decided that I'd prefer more ankle-length options to see me through the colder months). If Fabletics were to release a full-length version of these pants for winter, I know that I, and some of my fitness friends, would be ecstatic! In the meantime though, I'm eyeing up the Cobalt Koia...

Although I've had a mixed experience with Fabletics so far, I'm still a VIP member and enjoy checking back for new styles. I'd love to know if you've tried any Fabletics kit yet, and what experience you've had?

*Photography by Cantara (Gymbags and Gladrags)

Summer Run + Sweaty Betty Kicker Run Capri Pants

Sports Bra - NikeTop - Under ArmourCapri Pants* - Sweaty Betty, Trainers - Nike

As you may have gathered by now, I love to switch up my workouts. I think that variety is key because it's great to work your muscles in different ways. Not only that, but it makes your workout regime much more interesting, helping to keep you motivated to exercise. Summer is such a brilliant time to find different ways of working out, whether it's trying an outdoor bootcamp, going for a hike, or getting on your bike. So far this summer I've taken some lovely countryside walks with a girlfriend and been lucky enough to try my hand at tennis. The sunny weather has encouraged me to embrace the concept of active living even more, and I've found myself making healthy choices when travelling around the city, opting to walk rather than take public transport (even when it has meant 50 minutes of dragging a suitcase behind me, it's been worth it!).

Without doubt, my favourite piece of activewear for working out in the sunshine has been Sweaty Betty's Kicker Run Capris *. It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Sweaty Betty activewear for the amazing quality and style, and I've been loving the latest addition to my SB collection. Despite not being much of a runner, I was lusting after these from the second that Sweaty Betty's Summer Run Edit catalogue dropped through my door. As with all Sweaty Betty products, the attention to detail on these capris is spot on, from the luminous SB logo printed at the hem to the perfect pocket for essentials. However, the main reason that I have been loving wearing these in the warm sunshine is because the sweat-wicking fabric is so lightweight that they feel like a second skin.

These particular capri pants are now in the Sweaty Betty sale for £38.00 down from £55.00 along with a massive variety of other products which are up to 50% off. Although everything is super tempting, remember to save some pennies for Sweaty Betty's amazing new collection launching 1st August!

I always love some more workout inspiration so let me know what your favourite ways to workout in summer are. Has the sunshine encouraged you to make more active and healthy choices?