Although I get awkwardly uncomfortable and squeamish when someone classifies me as an “expert” in any of the subjects I have actually studied or racked up 10,000-plus hours practicing (like fitness, yoga, public health, wellness), there is one topic in which no amount of imposter’s syndrome could ever shake my confidence. And no, it’s not even the topic that I wrote an entire dissertation on (if you’re wondering, it was about the coverage of health in Spanish-language television news). It’s the subject of leggings. Yes, my friends, I am an expert in all things leggings. I know my mom is so proud.
Aside from the fact that I’ve been in the fitness game for multiple decades and have witnessed or participated in nearly every apparel trend in that period of time, I am also at a point where I spend about 97.8% of my waking hours in leggings. And, just so we’re really clear here, I probably wear upwards of three pairs a day. Every day is laundry day in my house! I also force my leggings to partake in all kinds of workouts and non-workouts, photo shoots, meetings, appointments, lunches, dinners, hours spent doing computer work or writing articles (I’m wearing sparkly white ones right now, if you must know), and so on. All this to say, I am hard on my leggings; I wear them into the ground (sometimes literally), and thus I am very picky about which ones I wear for what and why.
Is it really that serious? Well, in the grand scheme of life, absolutely not. But in terms of training, it actually can be. The wrong pair of leggings can either be a mere minor annoyance or actually impede your performance or ruin your workout entirely. Yes, really. If you have to pull up your leggings every five seconds, you can probably go ahead and scratch that attempt to P.R. Suffice it to say, not all leggings are created equal. But neither are all workouts. There are times and places for those really pretty, fragile, mesh-detailed leggings with rhinestones and ribbons (I’m making this up…I think), and others for the ones that will withstand a sweat-filled, muddy obstacle course in the rain.
So which ones are my faves for which workouts? I’m so glad you asked. Here are my thoughts on the best leggings for chill, not-so-chill, and hard AF workouts.
For chill workouts/activities
Let’s be clear here: My legs might have a different idea of what I mean by chill than my leggings. None of the workouts I would put in this category is easy, but in terms of the needs of the brightly colored fabric I wrap myself in, the demands are pretty low. This is also the category that could alternately be titled, “for all other moments of my life,” because I do, in fact, live in athleisure wear. Like, all day, every day. Sometimes, yes, even to sleep.
This category is less concerned with intricate details of function and far more interested in style, comfort (because that is always important to me), and—I am almost embarrassed to say—what’s good for the gram.
Activities: Pilates, Lagree method, yoga (not hot), ballet/barre
Also used for: Going to/from the gym, meetings, literally the rest of my life, Instagram, and other photo/video shoots
What I care about most: They’re cute, shiny, meshy, fun. This is the category where the super-Instagram-worthy leggings also come into play.
What I care about less: Support, waistband, and whether they constrict movement don’t matter too much. I want to be able to move, but I don’t need compression, and they can be a bit more rigid without too much of an issue. Wicking isn’t something I’m concerned with here.