How Your Workout Clothes Can Enhance Your Performance (for Real)

You know the feeling. You slide into your sleek color-coordinated workout clothes, a new pair of comfy trainers, your favorite extra touches tying it all together, and suddenly it’s hello, confidence. Back-to-back burpees? Let’s get that obé burn. Squat pulses? You’re already crushing them.

A workout just hits differently when you’re feeling good in what you’re wearing—and science backs up this theory. Research has shown that the color, pattern, fabric, style, and fit of your workout clothes can all enhance your performance, and even motivate you to show up more consistently.

The secret, in science-y terms, is known as “Enclothed Cognition,” which describes the very real influence clothing can have on how you think, how you feel, and even what you do. And with up to 96% of participants in a study feeling their emotional states change based on clothing choices alone, we know the impact can be seriously powerful.

Here, a few quick tips to dress the part and #LevelUp your performance.

Timing is *Everything*

Having trouble hitting that “Strive for Five” stride? Try swapping your PJs for your workout clothes as soon as you get out of bed. Putting on your activewear first thing in the morning has been shown to make you feel more charged up for your workout.

Like to obé after dark? Make time for a quick outfit change midday or do a swap as soon as you’re wrapped with work so you’re already in the mindset to get moving again. Just the act and ritual of putting on your workout clothes drastically improves the odds you’ll actually follow through with your intentions (and has been shown to pump up motivation in 70% of people who exercise).

There’s a Color For That

Certain moods may make you gravitate towards certain shades, but the opposite is also true—you can curate your color choices to help you feel the way you want to feel. Whether you want to prep yourself for a new class type or kick it up a notch for your tried-and-true favorites, there’s a color to go with every kind of workout.

Need a burst of confidence for your HIIT or Cardio Boxing class? Red is your color for all things high intensity. For an extra kick of energy (we see you, Power and Bounce), yellow, orange and pink are the biggest energizers—plus, they deliver a hint of positivity and optimism.

When you’re ready to slow things down for yoga and signal your brain to chill, greens or neutrals are perfect for recovery and low-intensity moments. Blues, which boost concentration and productivity, are a perfect match for strength. To match the pace of dance cardio and dance HIIT classes, consider neon to give you the jolt you need.

And if all-black everything is your vibe no matter what, keep in mind that it can make you feel more powerful—but also more aggressive.

Choose Cool And Comfy Materials

There’s a reason moisture-wicking fabrics are the holy grail of the athletic wear world. You’re already working hard for your #SweatySelfie—the last thing you want to do is get pulled out of the zone because your 100% cotton tee is literally dripping.

Preventing overheating is crucial, especially as we head into the hot summer months and take #obéoutside. Flexible fabrics that support your body (and keep it cool) are a key way to keep your focus razor sharp, so you can prioritize maintaining proper form for optimal performance.

Some performance experts also point to the positive effects of compression wear, which can promote endurance and reduce fatigue by improving circulation and bringing oxygen to your muscles.

Another bonus for investing in high-quality workout clothes? Looking the part by wearing specifically designed athletic gear will also make you want to act the part—and feel more confident in your own abilities when you do.

Wear a Little Secret

The ultimate reason our clothing choices can be such a game-changer for our attitude, mood and vibe? It all comes down to the symbolic meaning we ascribe to the things we put on.

This also means that wearing something you have a positive association with will make you feel more fully in your element, whatever your fitness agenda. The special hat you wore when you finished your first week of obé classes, a cute tee that reminds you to smile, shoes (or fun socks) with racing stripes that make you feel lighting fast, an “all in” bracelet for your wrist—these special things can all give you the mental boost you need to get through any workout, anytime, anywhere.

In other words, even more reasons to treat yourself to a gear refresh from The obé Shop.

You may also like


  • Kseniya Sovenko

    A former pro ballroom dancer, Kseniya began her fitness journey at age 5. Over the years, she’s supplemented her training with everything in the boutique fitness scene—from vigorous Bikram Yoga and Pilates reformer classes to weekly HIIT, Metcon, and Tabata workouts, Muay Thai, strength training, and more. Kseniya graduated from the University of Washington with degrees in journalism and sociology. You can find her work in The Guardian, Capitol Hill Times, The Seattle Globalist, and more.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: