Important kit

This post probably could’ve gone in my other category, but it’s more sporty than “general other”, so here we are.  We’ve got past the “new year, new me” stage for most people now (anyone got a gym membership which is gathering dust now that Dry January is over?), and with the cold and wet weather continuing in the UK (newsflash: it’s like this all year round), enthusiasm for exercise is definitely waning.  Then along came #thisgirlcan to try and get us all out of our comfy PJs and off our sofas (WHY?!), and a few people probably groaned and did as they were told.  And then here comes another problem: we’re doing it wrong.  The media tells us and our bodies tell us, and it puts us off again.  But today’s issue is really easy to get right, and far more important than many women assume.

I’m talking about sports bras.  Whether you’re the proud owner of fried eggs or melons (as an aerobics teacher we had at school put it), you really and truly should be wearing one for anything remotely resembling exercise.  The more-endowed are generally fairly naturally aware of this, as we occasionally bruise ourselves when stumbling down the stairs in a hurry to answer the door early in the morning, yet some still don’t do much about it.  I’m not even sure why, to be honest, because I for one find exercise painful enough without adding ruining my bust to the drama.

Here’s the thing, girls: unfortunately, breasts aren’t made of muscle (life could be fun – if maybe a little awkward – if they were), which means that there’s absolutely no hope for redemption once you do too much damage.  And something I only learned this weekend, is that their motion pattern isn’t a straightforward vertical or horizontal when you break out of anything other than a dawdle: oh no, breasts move in a figure of eight pattern when they jiggle (I was very conscious of this for the first few minutes after I learned it – I began to understand what the fascination is for certain people…).  With those facts in mind, you may want to care for your assets a bit more, but guess what?  You’ll probably get it wrong again.

Many people are aware that “statistically”, most women wear the wrong size bra.  Beware – these statistics even more than usual ones are highly flawed, because they’re generally taken from those who actually know this already, rather than measuring a random sample of women.  However, the point is valid: it can be due to poor measuring, change in size, bad fit or age of bra, but either way, most of us are in the wrong size, which decreases the helpfulness of said garment.  But it’s okay, help is at hand!  Here are my top tips for kitting yourself out:

  1. Admit you need help – congratulations! You have realised that you need to take care of your body.  I would strongly recommend going to a specialist retailer if you can (I don’t mean high street department stores – many of these get it wrong too).  I bought my first “real” sports bras from Less Bounce and haven’t looked back.  If you’re at a show where they happen to be, go and see them!  There are many other good online sports retailers with great advice, but beware the internet…
  2. Be careful – I love the internet, it’s very useful. But it sometimes has too much advice, and with things like clothes and cooking, it can be very confusing.  Because guess what?  A 36D isn’t always a 36D!  Make sure you find a measuring guide which uses your own country’s sizing method, and even then be prepared to be patient in your search…
  3. Get more than you need – check the returns policy of the site you’re ordering from first, but if you’re able to return items, then buy lots of sizes, try them on and send back the ones you don’t need. You probably won’t be able to actually exercise in them, but you should be able to at least figure out what fits.  Sports bras are an investment, and can be pricey, so it’s worth getting it right.  Make sure you do your trying on and returning within the window of opportunity, so that you don’t get charged unnecessarily
  4. Make the right choice – if you regularly do a low-impact exercise and fit into a smaller cup size, you’re not going to need a lot of scaffolding. If, however, your sport of choice is high-impact and you have a larger bust, make sure you don’t just get a glorified crop top.  For several years now, various companies have produced sports bras with underwires, which were a total revelation – they offer greater support and, in my experience, the wires have yet to escape and cause any nasty injuries, yay!  Sports bras have also come a long way in terms of attractiveness (not that this typically matters, but it does make them a more fun purchase these days)
  5. Look after your kit – Less Bounce recommend sports bras shouldn’t have a birthday! Just like helmets and other sports equipment, these things have an expiry, particularly if you’re wearing them daily and washing them in a machine.  Even if (like yours truly) you don’t replace them strictly on time, do make sure you adjust your bra after washing and vigorous activity – bras are not fixed pieces of armour!  They are designed so that they are adjustable, and they therefore tend to do this of their own accord.  If you really can’t be bothered with fixing them all the time, perhaps take a Sharpie to your straps and make a mark where yours are typically adjusted to, but remember that you will change size and shape too, so it’s worth taking the few seconds to make sure it fits every time
  6. Sports bras aren’t just for exercise – I wear mine whenever I visit the yard, even if I know I’m not riding. Inevitably, you end up chasing after some kind of animal, or a stray feed bag, or a child.  And as someone who has taught many beginners over the last couple of years, well that involves some sprinting if you’ve got mischievous horses, excited riders or ones who are just learning to go faster.  Think about what you’re likely to do and dress appropriately.  You wouldn’t go to do turnout in flip flops, would you?

Next time you spot me in the saddle or leading a horse, you’ll know that I’m in my favourite Panache (it’ll take a lot to persuade me into something else) – what will you be wearing?

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