From left to right: Scott Davis, Brianne Kleiner, Trevor Macy and Amanda Valle. - Photo by ANDREA ALLEN SIS

Functional and Fun

Bold and neon colors are everywhere in fashion this year, from headbands to shoelaces, particularly in activewear.

Amanda Valle, a personal trainer at Club Northwest in Grants Pass, welcomes back the bright neons, remembering her exercise gear from the '80s including purple tights with a yellow thong. "I love the colors," she says. "Bright colors can lift your spirits. Any time you are happy with the way you look, it boosts your confidence and you are more likely to have a longer workout."

Though fitness apparel trends change, today's products are as much about function as they are about fashion. Modern synthetic materials advertise to wick away sweat, prevent chafing, reduce odors, offer unrestricted movement and provide built-in support along with ultraviolet protection, all tag-free. It's this practicality that appeals to Scott Davis of Grants Pass. He wants to be comfortable when he works out. For him that means shirts that are lightweight, moisture-wicking and durable. He doesn't wear cotton T-shirts, which can feel like a wet rag after an intense workout.

When Brianne Kleiner of Grants Pass chooses her fitness wear, she wants to make a fashion statement in addition to practical considerations. She buys brands such as Lululemon, Under Armour, Lucy, Nike and Brooks that combine the fashion with the function. "Bright colors reflect my style and personality," she says. "They make me feel good. Though I am a busy mom with three children, I don't feel frumpy wearing workout clothing all day if it is fashionable and fun."

Many of Valle's clients use gym clothes as motivation. "It's a reward for a lot of ladies," she says. "They work hard to reach a goal, losing inches or weight, and then their reward is a bright, new workout top."

Valle has also noticed that the people who invest in workout clothes are usually the people who actually like working out. "It shows their commitment, acknowledging exercise as an important part of their lives," she says.

Davis agrees. Though he says he doesn't think men typically care as much about fashion, he has noticed that the men who are serious about fitness do invest in athletic clothing. And he can't completely deny that appearance comes into the equation. "There is a bit of a psychological boost to see yourself in the mirror, see the muscles you are working," he says.

Though Valle, Kleiner and Davis all spend extra to have specific apparel for the gym, they all say their biggest fitness-gear investment is actually in shoes. Good support and fit are essential, but athletic shoes also make a statement. "Three years ago I bought a new pair of hot-pink Nikes," Valle says. "Every day, I got ten comments on my shoes and I started calling them my happy feet."

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