You might have barely left the couch this week, but with January almost upon us, get ready to kickstart 2023 by putting together a New Year’s activewear kit. If you’re looking to stock up on workout gear, consider the plethora of Irish-owned fitness brands.
In addition to supporting local businesses, make sure you’re spending your money on clothes you can work out in comfortably: leggings that won’t fall down, shorts that won’t chafe, and bras that offer adequate support.
We asked fitness experts for their proven favorites.
It can be difficult to tell just how functional activewear is until you’ve already bought it and trained in it, but Deirdre Dowling, founder of the Irish yoga mat and accessories company, does HolderEight.comrecommends trying on items in store rather than using your home as a fitting room for online purchases.
“You really have to try it on because if you don’t get the four-way stretch, the coverage, or the support, you’re not comfortable wearing it,” she says. “You want support, that’s really important — that it holds you down and makes you feel like you’re not just wearing tights.”
She recommends a “squat test” in the changing room. “It’s as simple as doing a squat and seeing if that area is comfortable,” says Deirdre.
“Length of the leg is also important, especially in yoga because you need your full foot on the mat to grab and hold yourself in place, so when.” [the leggings are] too long, you cover your foot.”
Your top choice is OrganicMovement.ie, which sells its sustainably sourced products online and in markets across the country. The high-waisted leggings (€70) are made in Portugal from an organic cotton/Lycra blend and come in sizes XS-L.
For general training, personal trainer Dee Murphy (DeeMurphyFitness.com) names the Leggings Compression 2.0 (50€) from New Dimensions Active as their favourite. The brand was founded in 2018 by athlete brothers Jeff and Orla Hopkins and recently opened its first store on Grafton Street.
“Because I have two kids, I like the feeling of support, and they offer a nice level of support and compression in the buttocks and abdomen,” says Dee of the high-waisted leggings, which come in sizes XXS-XXL. “I got a pair of these leggings three or four years ago and they’re still perfect.”
Dee also likes leggings from Dublin-based brand Powercut, which has multiple expert endorsements. Its products are designed in Ireland and manufactured in Portugal and China.
Fitness Instructor Michelle Heffernan (Facebook.com/MichelleFitnessKilkenny) likes Powercuts Solid leggings (€39) but notes that it’s important to try them on as the sizing includes two sizes, 6-8, 10-12, 14-16 and 18-20. Powercut is now available at select Dunnes locations (see PowercutClothing.com).
“If you go down a little, they don’t give much, but if you’re the right size, they’re good and they fit well,” she says. “You can’t see through them, they’re very cheap, and they come in all sorts of colors.”
She adds that they don’t slip off during strength training or dance classes. “They don’t move at all. The powercuts are also thicker so they’re warm enough when you’re going outside, jogging or whatever. They’re not as flimsy as some of the high street brands.”
For a wider range of sizes, Michelle highlights Peachylean, which offers leggings from XS (6-8) to 4XL (22-24). The high-waisted, full-length leggings (€65) are a hit, designed in Dublin and made in ethical factories in China. They are available at select Avoca locations for easy trying on.
“I’ve heard from customers that Peachylean works well for women of different sizes and taller ladies. When I have clients who are low on self-confidence, I have always advised Peachylean and they have always felt comfortable with them,” she says.
If you prefer a more capri style, Michelle likes the ones from the Clare mother-daughter team I-Spy.ie, costs €45 and is available in sizes 8-18. “I got them two or three years ago and they stay put,” she says.
Dee recommends Powercut’s range of sports bras, particularly the high support Compress bra (€38, Dunnes, sizes 6-20). “I would do a lot of high impact exercise so I need a sturdy sports bra and I have a pair of these from Powercut,” she says.
For a more stylish option, Dee suggests GymGoddessClothing.com, which uses recycled polyester to make its sportswear and plants a tree for every order. Dee likes the matching sports bra (€29.99) and leggings (€47.99, sizes XS-XL).
“They’re functional and practical, but if you’re looking for a really good-looking sports bra, they definitely look good.”
Deirdre recommends a body-hugging style for freedom of movement. “You don’t want to wear a loose top that rolls over your head when you bend over. You need a top that is very form fitting and shows your arms free because that gives you freedom of movement.”
Michelle likes the tank top from I-Spy.ie (35€, sizes 8-18). “They are a perfect fit for you and very supportive. They don’t move either, which is good,” she says. “They have straps in the colors of the logo on the back, which looks nice.”
For cooler days, Dee recommends the long-sleeved shirt Advantage from Gym+Coffee (45 €, sizes XS-XXL). “I have a few of these and they’re nice for outside or when it’s a bit colder when you’re working out,” she says.
Among Irish brands, the range of activewear for men is significantly smaller. Paul Byrne, personal trainer at Dublin’s BodyByrne gym, was impressed by New Dimensions Active and is a fan of their training shorts (€38, sizes S-XL).
“The most important thing about gym shorts is that they’re comfortable and have a good fit—not sprayed on, not too tight,” he says. “They’re also lined with fur on the inside so they don’t really rub against me when I run. I’ve had them for almost two years and I still train with them.”
Paul also likes the New Dimensions Active sweater (€50, sizes XS-XXL), which he says is heavy enough to brave the cold but roomy enough to easily remove after warming up. “That’s what you need at this time of year, a loose sweater,” he says.
Damian Hall, owner of CompletePersonalTraining.ierecommends the Gym+Coffee zip hoodies (€85, sizes S-XXL), but recommends lighter colors because the darker ones can fade.
“I like their stretch, fit and quality,” he says. “I like them for warming up at the gym or outside on cold days.”
Dominic Munnelly, Personal Trainer at ThisIsTheWay.ienames the Powercut Full Zip Hoodie (€70, Dunnes, sizes XS-XL) as his top pick for outdoor training or coaching.
“I think it’s excellent. It feels really good, washes really well, doesn’t clump and I always get compliments on it,” he says. “The branding on it doesn’t look too over the top, it’s not all over the place.”
https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/fitness/leggings-sports-bras-and-tops-this-is-the-best-irish-activewear-to-get-your-new-year-up-and-running-in-style-42249192.html Leggings, sports bras and tops: this is the best Irish activewear to start the new year in style