While skin-tight denim was once king, our love of jeans has recently been replaced with a passion for activewear.
Lockdown has made us fall in love all over again with gym clothes and its very forgiving – and stretchy – fabric.
Activewear sales have soared, with some brands even experiencing total frenzies over its products. Australian fitness apparel brand STAX saw a range of tights, shorts and bras sell out in 7 minutes in the height of lockdown – and now another item on its website has shoppers in a twist.
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The brand’s “best black tights” boast hundreds of five-star reviews online and have proved popular among the former reality stars turned influencer crowd too.
It seems our new-found appreciation for activewear has made finding the perfect pair of black tights akin to snagging the holy-grail pair of jeans post-isolation.
Especially with gyms reopening in most states, meaning we want to go from loungeroom Zoom meetings to gym in one outfit.
So we decided to put some of the most popular black gym leggings to the test to save you wasting your cash – here’s how we did it.
KEEPING THINGS FAIR
In order to keep things consistent in the test, I’ll be using the same running shoes and completing the same workout.
To truly put each pair of pants through its paces I’ve chosen to take them to a Barry’s Bootcamp class as the fitness class consists of a gruelling mixture of weights and running. It’s also just down the road from the office #convenient.
If you’re not familiar with Barry’s, it is a favourite among elite celebrities including the Kardashians, the Beckhams and Victoria’s Secret models. The hardcore sessions are a mix of running, functional fitness and weight training and people have been known to burn as much as 1000 calories in a 55 minute class. As a result it has been dubbed “Hollywood’s toughest celebrity workout” and often has waitlists to get in for its next-level sessions.
So where better to put these tights to the test. We’ll also be wearing the same runners throughout to ensure consistency, opting for my pair of Reebok HIIT TR shoes, which retail for $150.
STAX BEST BLACK TIGHTS
Available at stax.Com.Au
Overall rating out of five: 4.5
At one point, my Instagram feed was full of chatter about these tights with people labelling the fabric “buttery soft” and “completely squat proof”. Fans include PR maven Roxy Jacenko, MAFS alumni Martha Kalifatidis and countless local fitness influencers. That’s not including the thousands of tags on Instagram from delighted shoppers rocking the skin-tight pants.
While the pants are regularly out of stock, STAX regularly restock so when they came back in recently I managed to snag a pair. Slipping into them, I knew exactly what fans of the tights meant when they described the fabric to smooth butter. Being just under 158cms tall, I always go for 7/8 gym tights which are pretty much full length on me, minus a small flash of the ankle and ordered the S, which is a size 10. Often I find I have to order a size down because gym pants can be a little too stretchy, but the fit on these is just right. They have stretch where you need them but aren’t baggy around the bum.
In my killer Barry’s class I highly rated them. The pants didn’t slip down, even when running, which is a pretty impressive feat – especially as at one point the trainer made us turn up the incline to run a very steep hill (ouch!). But seriously, there’s nothing worse than when you have to yank up your pants while pounding a treadmill – or the waist falling down low when squatting. These did none of that, hooray.
One thing I will say, and it’s a teeny tiny thing, but the fabric does attract a lot of lint. During lockdown when I was working out in my lounge room because gyms were closed, I’d pick up a lot of fluff from a rug I have. When I’ve worn them to work I’ve looked down and seen various rogue threads clinging to them too. But they really are great tights, especially for the price, so I can see what all the fuss is about.
NIMBLE ALL DAY HIGH RISE LEGGINGS
Available at nimbleactivewear.Com
Overall rating out of five: 5
I’ve raved about how great this brand are in the past, but I’m going to say it again – #soznotsoz. The reason I’m banging on about them though is because they are truly fantastic. The pants meet all three major requirements I have for my tights. They stay in place when working out like a demon, look cute enough to wear for a coffee with your gym pals after (at a social distance of course) and are good for the environment.
Each piece made by the Australian brand is made with its trademarked fabric that uses recycled plastic bottles and while you may think that would make them stuffy and stiff, they are anything but.
In the Barry’s classes I’ve worn them to recently I found them super breathable, despite the famous “red room” where the workouts are held getting quite sweaty at times. In fact, I’m pretty sure sweat is what makes these pants so bloody brilliant. Let me explain.
When I’m wearing them at home, they are comfy and don’t dig in at all – but as soon as I start exercising in them they become a second skin. It’s like they are sweat activated – it’s pure magic.
The ultra-high waist – which is something Nimble are known for – stays in place and doesn’t fold over during workouts, plus it is very flattering on my tummy, an area I feel particularly self-conscious about.
While they’re definitely not the cheapest piece of activewear out there, they are also not the most expensive with this staple black pair costing just under $100 bucks.
Size wise, they true to size too so no need to shop down in order to get the right fit – and the matching Push The Limits Bra – which costs $89 – is actually my favorite sports bra ever. It’s so supportive and doesn’t dig in the way others tend to. Highly recommend.
REEBOK PUREMOVE TIGHTS
Available at reebok.Com.Au
Overall rating out of five: 5
It might be a brand best known for its retro runners (gotta love a pair of Reebok Classics) but the modern activewear is just as legendary. These pants are like a second skin that don’t budge during workouts, are super breathable and very flattering thanks to the wide waistband that sucks you in without leaving you unable to breathe.
The fabric feels a bit like a thin wetsuit material which definitely tightens up when exercising, so they are ideal for running. It works the other way around too, so relaxes when you’re not moving, making them comfy even when lounging around the house.
I love that Reebok have really thought about what women want from their pants as the shape really is designed to flatter and make you feel strong and confident, by hugging in all the right places while still being able to move freely in them.
During exercises like squats I felt supported in them and didn’t have to worry about pulling them up as they stayed put. Another thing that’s fab about them are the two different lengths and the range of sizing which goes up to 2XL (size 24-26). The matching bra ($50) is also fantastic too, offering great support but no painful boob bounce. Seriously love these tights, can’t recommend them enough.
BARRY’S TRAINER NIKITA JOHNSTON:
CONTROLOGY ACTIVE ORIGAMI PANT
Available at contrologyactive.Com.Au
No one knows what you need from a pair of gym tights better than a fitness professional, which is why I had to include a Melbourne brand my Barry’s trainer Nikita Johnston flagged with me. I’ve not tried them myself, but Nik said they are a great all-rounder that hold up well in various workouts, particularly pilates.
They’re a little more on the expensive side which is to cater for the brand’s “eight-way stretch fabric” and they have the high-waist so many of us want from our workout pants. Plus look how cute Nik looks in hers (she’s wearing the Femme Pant in leopard print). Will defo be adding these to cart.
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