What I Wore to the Gym: Plus Size Activewear Recap (Week 1)

Last week while walking to the gym, a lightbulb went off in my head. I am still recovering from my surgery (it's one year anniversary is literally this week OMG). I don't have many places to go and I don't travel much. I'm pretty restricted in ways that I never could have imagined. The gym is my catwalk. I hop on Instagram stories in the Yoga Room and make timelapses of my workouts to share with you. I enjoy coordinating my gym outfits. So, why not combine my love for fashion & fitness?

I intend on making this a weekly occurrence, on Mondays. I am always looking for new activewear brands, so if you have any suggestions -- let me know in the comments below. I'm also open to athletic brand collaborations - email or DM me. 

Growing up, I would have never had access to this kind of innovative fitness/health content. There were virtually no fat bodies in [fitness] media (that is, unless you count Richard Simmons LOL). Pilates, aerobics and jazzercise tapes and infomercials saturated the market. Today, abs and obliques adorn the cover of world renowned fitness magazines such as: Men's Health, Women's Health, Women's Fitness and Muscle & Fitness. Fitness and health aren't all achieved through crunches and muscles! (although v cool to see curvy babe, Iskra on the cover of Women's Health UK in 2017 - see here).

Plus size women are rarely seen in sport, let alone, celebrated. However, if you peep at Olympic Track & Field Teams (and what once were the softball teams) you may recognize a few visibly plus size women (and men... helllooooo Joe Kovacs). The most well-known perhaps being, Sarah Robles (USA) who won an Olympic Bronze Medal in weightlifting at the 2016 Summer Winter Olympics. Side Note: Fun news that made my morning -- After being voted out of the 2012 & 2016 Olympics, baseball & softball are making a return for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo (YESSSSS!).

I'm sure many are intimidated by and frustrated with (myself included) the idealization of thin-white-cis-able bodies in society and the media. Today, I want to begin to deconstruct the health & fitness industry (don't worry, I am just getting started).  We watch in horror as we place those with the right % of body fat and the correct BMIs on a pedestal, but we do little to challenge it. Not to mention, there are the domineering overtones of living in a male-dominated world.

People of colour (especially women & non-binary folx) rarely make the cover of magazines. Discussions about disability in sport are limited to the Paralympics and the Para Pan Am Games (AKA: The Capitalist extortion of marginalized folx). But not for long! These images are not realistic representations of the world. I want to break down the image and reputation of health and fitness in the media. It is not a one-size-fits all industry.  It does have the potential to be a magnificent world of possibility and thinking outside the box. If only we allow it to be so. I want to change the way society and the media view health and fitness! Neither are a means to an end (i.e. weightloss, beauty, etc.), but are rather a lifestyle.

Health and Fitness can be fun in many different ways. For me, I allow it to be an outlet for my creativity and spunk. I thought it would be fun to share my passion with others by showcasing what I wear to the gym each week. No staging required. I am only wearing items that I actually worked out in. Most of these shots are before my workout; however, some may be from throughout or afterwards. Note: In some photos, I am wearing makeup and in others, I am not. I have edited the images in order to address lighting barriers to the horrendous mirror selfie shot under fluorescent lighting. Since I do 99% of my workouts solo, the best photo method has proven to be the cliche mirror selfie. I'm not trying to break any fashion barriers with this - not showing off couture here. I'm at times awkward, but that's the real me!

There are times when I have pre-planned my workout and other times when I wing it. There must always be a certain level of flexibility assigned to this, due to my physical disability. Sometimes, I find myself weighting out machines that are occupied because I physically cannot use what is available. Therefore, I may end up doing some yoga or strengthening exercises that I hadn't intended to do (but always can benefit from). I rarely encounter this during the daytime due to the smaller presence. Plus, the busier it is, the greater risk of me falling (due to poorly placed equipment, overcrowding, etc.). This is why I don't like to leave my workout until the evening.

Above: pre-workout; Below: post-workout

I did probably the most intense core workout of my life. Since I planned to spend a significant amount of time on the floor, I had to stay covered up. I definitely would have flashed people based on what I had planned for the workout. I went prepared. The undershorts are my old Nike sliders from my hardball days. I was never a very good slider (back problems) so the shorts are pretty pristine. It was my first time wearing these purple shorts that I picked up at Old Navy the weekend prior. I am wearing the XXL but definitely would rather had an XL (I'm a size 18/20 in bottoms). They are super comfy and aren't restrictive at all which is important when you're doing mat exercises (similar style here). I knew I wasn't running, so I threw on these comfy Champion slip-ons. My Poly/Rayon/Spandex shirt is also from Old Navy, but is ancient. It kind of looked weird with the black-white-purple combo but in a quirky kind of way, I think? I don't hate it! It was something different and a form of self-expression.
~  I matched the medicine ball ~ 
I followed the momentum from yesterday and continued on with core exercises. I had exhausted myself the day before and hadn't realized until mid-workout. I made a mental note to avoid back-to-back core workouts. I lifted many weights this evening and even brought along my own free-weights and kettle bells (I still don't understand why our gym doesn't have free-weights). I matched the Medicine Ball that I was using for squats, twists and lifts -- so that was fun.

I've been doing some Spring Cleaning lately, especially in my closet. I found this Toronto Blue Jays T-Shirt of mine in my cupboard and was shocked at how big it looked. I purchased it at the beginning of last summer and it was snug on me then. Check out how it looks on me now! I think it's time for the shirt to retire as PJs & the odd-time workout shirt. I absolutely love these leggings by NOLA from Addition Elle. They hold everything in, they are high-rise & my panties don't bunch up under them (LOL). They appear to be sold out online, but check in the clearance section of your own store (or shop a similar pair here). Unfortunately, I did discover that I probably shouldn't wear them on bicycle days. Sitting down on that recumbent bicycle in these just uncomfortably squishes everything.

I usually go straight through, Monday to Friday. Due to the intensity of Mon/Tues core workouts, I took the day off.

After having a rest day, I felt rejuvenated and was full of energy! I planned a rather lengthy workout that included many elements. I spent nearly 3 hours at the gym on Thursday and it felt amazing. I just wanted a taste of everything. I experimented a little with a few new exercises (starting to target my back now after almost an entire year-post op).

Thursday hosted a Full Moon in Virgo. I began my workout practice with a silent meditation (the yoga studio was empty thankfully) and transitioned into some grounding yoga. Yoga is tricky for me now more than ever because it places a lot of trust and attention on balance. My trusty old Nike's got me through my summer of physiotherapy, so I knew they'd still stand up in the gym. They have firmer toe, so it's easier to do yoga/planks while wearing these ones. Honestly, these pieces just all happened to be clean on my couch from laundry day. It's just a bonus that they all matched!

Here, I'd like to demonstrate the three phases of my workout ensemble. 

Phase One: Top & Leggings (sweater worn only for photo cause I forgot to take it off)
Why: I'm moving around a lot within a confined space. I will get hot, fast. I have a place to set my sweater down.
Phase Two: Jacket secured around waist
Why: I start to move between the aerobics room and the cardio/weights room. I don't want to be carrying a bunch of stuff around (like when I bring my own free weights). It's too hot to wear while on the bicycle but acts as a comfy lap cushion.
Phase Three: Jacket On
Why: For one, it is my own personal sauna (more heat = your body is working harder). Secondly, I don't want to have a Janet Jackson slip at the gym. No matter what, my chest likes to escape from whatever it's bound by. In this case, I knew this yoga top from Old Navy (also ancient) would not keep my chest secure if I was running. I was keen to jog, so I sadistically suffered through this in my sweater.
It was a busy day. My schedule had gotten shifted around which left me in a bit of a tizzy. I was ultimately on a time constraint. I went in the middle of the day, so I just threw something together. I was cleaning my apartment beforehand. I was really hot, so opted for shorts! I knew it would be a low impact day, so I wore this loose top with built-in bra (old season Addition Elle). Honestly, it's kind of big on me, so I think I need to consider recycling this one. One of three pairs of my runners. I am going to purchase some new runners soon actually. I'm excited.
The neuropathy in my glutes restricted me from using the recumbent bicycle (my go to) which was frustrating. I worked on my balance & arm strength (triceps & biceps) using some pulley-weights. I took to the treadmill instead to work on my endurance. I didn't feel well, so I didn't last long. But, I made a vow to listen to my body and I'm sticking to it.

I had a lot going on today, but wanted to make up for my day off on Wednesday. Sticking to a 5-day per week schedule (with a "no excuses" attitude) keeps me occupied, disciplined and accountable. I made a quick dip down to the bicycle for a quick spin. I also jumped on the leg machines and worked my quads & hammies doing leg extensions & curls. It is more comfortable to do this (or really any weight machine) in full pants. Bare legs (shorts) create too much friction and are a no-no! These are my trusty pair of electric NOLA legging from Addition Elle. I was already wearing a sports-bra that day (apartment cleaning) so I just found an old but cute t-shirt to accompany the leggings. I just love the athletic stripe details on the sleeves of this Disney Villains shirt.
That sums up my workout week! Make sure to visit back next Monday (post should be up by morning) for this week's plus-size activewear recap. I'm off to the gym now! XOXO

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