Friday 5: Five Places To Get Workout Clothes On The Cheap - A Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss

Friday 5: Five Places To Get Workout Clothes On The Cheap

old-navy

When I first started working out, I didn’t have “workout clothes.” I went out in a “polo” that I’d bought from Old Navy, and some capri pants I’d purchased from Rainbow. (You can hate on my Rainbow pants, but they were fly for a size 26.) I was so eager to just get out there and go, that there were nights I was out there walking with Mini-me in my pajama pants.

That’s right. I said it. Pajama. Pants. I was determined… your snootiness about my flannel pants be damned!

But, as with all things, this slowly came to an end for me. I even remember how it happened. Mini-me and I were outside, walking our little path, when all of a sudden I felt a cold breeze.

Um, it was a little TOO cold, though.

My pants, apparently, without my understanding (or even paying attention), had become a tad bit too loose and baggy over the weeks, and had finally given up the ghost. There, they rested… just chillin’ at my knees, leaving those cheeks of mine exposed.

I busted out laughing, grabbed my pants, and walked away in shock. That had never happened to me before! For once, my clothes were too big. Wow, how does that happen? I mean, yeah, it happens, but when it does? That first time? It takes a moment.

The reality hits you. You, eventually, have to invest in some workout clothes. You can’t work out in clothes designated for another activity – like “work” or “kicking it” (yes, “kicking it” is an activity) and, quite frankly, there’s something “official” about putting on my workout gear. It’s like I’m getting into the mind frame that says… it’s time to kick some ass. My own ass.

But, if you’re swapping sizes quickly, what do you do? You try to get the best quality that you can afford, as cheaply as possible. That’s what. But how? And where? I’ve got five spots that wll offer you the best bang for your financial management buck, and a bonus spot that’s just for the time being.

1) Your favorite sporting goods store… in the clearance section: Obviously, the most top of the line products are going to be sold, here. But just like any other store, they have to have markdowns in order to both still profit from the supply as well as move it out of the store to make space for the incoming supply. I was able to get a handful of Nike dry-fit shirts (green and neon pink, thank you very much) for under $20 a piece. Compression socks? $1 a pair. You have to make regular visits – just like how some of us saunter into Macy’s regularly to see what they’ve got, you’ve got to do the same at Dick’s (the place I got my socks and dry-fit shirts) or Sports Authority in order to catch the thriftiest of deals. It’s a lifestyle now, one we want to keep as cheap as possible. The sizing on this is usually location-specific: I couldn’t find anything beyond a size L in some cities, but the XLs were pretty plentiful in Indiana the last time I was there. (I’on know if they’re trying to say something about Hoosiers, but… )

2) Marshall’s / TJ Maxx/Burlington Coat Factory: It sounds counter-intuitive, but when large-name stores can’t “clearance” away the products that are going out of season, they give them to places like Burlington or TJ Maxx to sell. This includes things like workout pants, jackets and tanks. No word on sports bras, although the tennis shoe selection (and the prices for ‘em) might make up for that. Sizes here, too, only tend to go up to an XL, but considering vanity sizing… anyone who’s uncertain about whether that XL includes them may want to give it a shot.

3) Target: Target has the hookup. I feel like I was the last person to figure this out, but they’ve got the hookup. They carry the C9 line from Champion, which is basically off-brand “Champion product. Consider this Champion’s efforts to get money from those of us not willing to pay the prices for the “on brand” product, and by selling C9 at a huge store like Target they can still make money and avoid advertising for it. Target also doubles down on this by offering lots of the products on clearance – moisture-wicking tees for about $5 a pop, sports bras in out-of-season colors (sports bras? out of season colors? what?) for $2.99, and listen – I cleaned up on those sports bras. They’re actually pretty decent quality for those of us lacking in the racks on racks on racks department. Not to mention, sizes go up to 3X for these in terms of shirts, pants and jackets.

I don’t know what size the bras go up to, though, and I try not to look. It makes me miss the wonders that were, on my own chest.

4) Old Navy: Old Navy is awesome. Slowly creeping into the fitness gear world, they’re released their own styles of shirts, running and yoga pants, fleeces – and don’t we all love an Old Navy fleece? – as well as sports bras. The stuff can also get a little pricey – $26 for a sports bra? – but, as always, Old Navy comes through in a clutch with tons of 30% off coupons and frequent sales. I actually scored three pair of workout capris for $7 a piece… and yes, they’re still holding up, a year later.

Now, while Old Navy may no longer offer their 20+ sizes in the store like they used to, they’re still available online (the sales are usually better there, anyway, and the shipping is pretty reasonable.) Before you do, though, check and see if your size can be accommodated in the store – their sizes are a little more, ahem, accommodating.

5) Forever 21: This one may be a bit of a shocker, but it’s true: Forever 21 finally dove nose-first into the workout gear realm of the fashion (?) and brought us cute and colorful camis and pants for both running and yoga. The prices are pretty awesome – starting at $3 for the tops, and $12 for the pants – even though the quality is a bit suspect (how are you going to put a logo on pants, and then your logo peels off?), they’re just sturdy enough to get the job done. Those camisoles are pretty cheap, so don’t expect more than a year’s worth of regular wear out of ‘em. While I think Forever 21′s sizes stop around a 12, their website Faith 21 has a few – and I do mean few… their plus-sized section doesn’t even have an “activewear” tab like the non-plus sized section – pieces to help you get what you need.

Bonus: Victoria’s Secret also has an activewear line – coupled with the brand’s Pink line creating yoga pants, sports bras (padded, of course), shorts and tiny tops – called VSX Sexy Sport, with cute (and fitted, of course) jackets, sports bras (up to a 38DD, 36D) tanks and pants in blindingly neon colors. Of course it’s pricey, except…. it’s Semi-annual season sale. Not every VS store carried the VSX Sexy Sport, but some did and are using this as an opportunity to get rid of some of it. Those $60 form-fitting moisture wicking jackets? In some places, they’re $30 right now. You’re welcome.

What deals are you catching? How are you saving money?

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes health, fitness, nutrition, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She now lives in New York with her family, and is working on her 4th, 5th and 6th certificates.

66 Comments

  1. Jubilance

    January 20, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Great list! I’ve gotten workout gear at almost every store you listed. Last night I picked up some C9 drywick apparel for 50% off.

  2. Thembi

    January 20, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    Thanks for this post! I’ve been working out in leggings that also pass for pants in LA so my game is all messed up. Along with my constant dirty dishes from clean eating, I also constantly have dirty clothes from working out!
    By the way, the pants falling down thing totally happened to me once, but I caught ‘em before they went to my knees…jeez get it together Erika lol

  3. Cole

    January 20, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    You forgot Amazon! $60 bras for $18.99! :-) Dancewear is so much cheaper there. I got ballet shoes for like $20 and those suckers (for my big feet) get pricey. Check it out, it’s not to be slept on, especially if you paid for Prime or have any kind of points on your credit card.

  4. Ti

    January 20, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    I am not a walmart shopper EXCEPT to buy workout clothes. They go up to the equivalent of a size 20 in the Danskin Now line. Excellent prices.

    • Vanessa

      April 13, 2012 at 2:33 PM

      Yes, I got a good supply of shirts and workout pants for next to nothing at Walmart. And when I drop a size I don’t feel bad about spending money on more.

    • GoldiKo

      January 31, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      I got two pairs of Danskin shorts for $3 each and their sports bras are the cheapest I’ve found, 2 for $9.99 (at least in Washington State).

  5. Kris

    January 20, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    Co-sign Forever 21…I was so surprised to see fitness clothes in there. Great colors too. Racked up on some pants. I get all my sports bras from TJMaxx. I’m on the itty bitty titty committee, so I refuse to spend a lot of money on them. Good list.

  6. Yvonne

    January 20, 2012 at 9:28 PM

    Love this article….not only am I a workout enthusiast, I’m also a frugalista. I get the majority of my workout gear from Old Navy and TJ Maxx/Marshalls. I will try the C9 line at Target because I saw that the items are on sale in this week’s circular.

  7. milaxx

    January 21, 2012 at 1:12 AM

    These are great options, sadly most aren’t options if you are plus sized. Target’s largest size doesn’t fit me. and Old Navy only sells plus sizes online. Other than socks and tshirts I buy all my workout gear online although TJMaxx/Marshall’s/Ross are kinda of hit or miss.

    The best thing to do is as you’ve said browse the clearance racks every so often. The thing keeping me going is that goal to one day not have to shop online in order to look cute.

    • EAT.STYLE.PLAY

      June 16, 2012 at 5:05 PM

      OldNavy has plus, Athleta has special sizes, Just My Size, Champion, Lane Bryant, i just up all their clearance sections when i need those sizes.

  8. Sylvia

    January 21, 2012 at 1:56 AM

    Yes!! I just bought my workout gear from Old Navy and I love it… Now I need to go to Marshall’s! Thanks for the other suggestions!!!

  9. Kiesh

    January 21, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    Yessss! I’ve been getting Nike, addidas, fila, etc, sports bras for 10-15 bucks from Marshall’s for the longest. Workout tights, ankle socks, tanks, the whole 9. When I finally went into actual sporting goods stores I had sticker shock…had no idea good workout gear was so expensive!

  10. Lolita

    January 21, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    I shop at almost all stores listed. Old Navy compression gear is tha bomb! Marshalls is a sure find every time for me…Target, YES! I pretty much hit up clearance racks in whatever store I go in. Academy Sports is a goldmine…I could leave my check in there!
    Erika, you’re not alone in the wardrobe malfuction..LOL! I was in the middle of my workout doing jump lunges and my Nike tights had a gravity issue and dropped down to my thighs. So glad I was home alone, all my business was out…I couldn’t do anything but laugh. XL is now too big…WHOO HOO!! From a 3X to a L…I’ll take it!! Still a work in progress.

  11. Tachae

    January 21, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Wal-mart is a pretty good option, but for those morally opposed, K-mart is bangin’ when it comes to sports/active wear. I’m talking $10 top and bottom sets daily. That’s here in Michigan though, but for ten dollars, sometimes 5 for tops and bottoms if there’s a sale? It’s worth a look online, or even a walk in, and they have layaway. :D

  12. Garefn

    January 21, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    I love this article! I also love Gap for workout clothes. They always have sales too so you can get some amazing deals.

  13. Robyn

    January 21, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    Thank you for this post….I was actually “on the hunt” about three weeks ago for new workout apparel and these were all of my places that I ended up searching and found some pretty good deals. I ordered some Nike Dri-Fit yoga pants and both pair are now too big and falling off. Which is a good thing, but then again when they are $60/pr, NOT so good. Also, stores like City Sports (if you have them in your area). I found out about Amazon also @ this time, and they have some pretty good deals! :-)

  14. BlackBerry Molasses

    January 21, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    I’m not morally opposed to Wal-Mart when it comes to work out clothes. They sell an off brand of Danskin, which is designer work out wear. And when stuff goes on clearance?!

    I’ve gotten 4 bra top work out tanks for less than 10 bucks.

  15. Paulette

    January 21, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    I second using Target and checking out the clearance sections of the more pricey athletic stores. Just got hip to going to TJMaxx and scored an UnderArmour zip up jacket for those cold mornings. The color is kinda loud, but I do want to be seen while out on street.

  16. Bannef

    January 22, 2012 at 9:15 PM

    Some advice on cold weather survival – I’m in Chicago and recently decided I don’t care what it’s doing outside – invest in some spandex workout pants, even if you are never going to let the public see you in those. I’ve taken to wearing my usual sweatpants/yoga pants over the spandex ones, and it keeps me toasty warm (and doesn’t actually make me look any wider either, which surprised me!) And it’s really comfortable too! I even wear them under opaque tights when I’m trying to look cute (under a dress of course, ha).

  17. curious

    January 22, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    i must say though, forever 21 has been known for it’s use of slave labor in making their clothes and things.

    • Erika Nicole Kendall

      January 22, 2012 at 10:45 PM

      The same could be said of both Nike and Victoria’s Secret, among others, I’m sorry to say.

      Now, if we wanted to put together a “Made In The USA” list… short of New Balance (and not even all of their products are US-made), I’m not entirely sure who’d be on it.

  18. Kait

    January 22, 2012 at 11:17 PM

    Kohl’s clearance rack. I’d argue their tekgear yoga pants are better than anything else I own (including my Nikes). Just sayin’. :)

  19. Curlstar

    January 24, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    Sometimes, if you are looking you can find some decent deals for workout gear on eBay. As a person with – ahem – racks on racks as you called it, I can find good, supportive, (read bounce-reducing, hold the girls down) sports bras fittingly called Shock Absorber beginning around $18 for my size, cheaper if you are wearing smaller sizes. Don’t get me wrong, as a lady that is well endowed, I find a $18 sports bra that actually fits and holds without a chance of me getting whiplash quite affordable.

  20. Shantana

    March 6, 2012 at 11:56 PM

    I was just in Marshall’s got me some slimming yoga pants(tummy control) and sports tank.
    I also go to Ross, Burlington, Target, Big 5 Sports Stores. My tank bra, I’m doubling up to keep the girls in got way to big and so are some of my pants.

    Another one GAP Body…I got a great sports tank from there and they have things on clearance under $20!

  21. GoldenLadyP

    March 9, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    My fave workout outfit is my airwicking tank (sport bra inside) from Target it was like $4 or something crazy and my ON workout pants less than $12. I’ve grabbed somethings from Marshalls and TJ Maxx on occasion and even Sport Authority. I wear them together and i just feel great on the treadmill. it’s time for a new pair of sneaks though because mine have had it…any suggestions?

  22. Deb

    March 30, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    You are making me laugh about the Hoosiers comment. I TRIPLE co-sign for the Dicks location in Indianapolis! I found some of my favorite neon Under Armour gear and there is a TON of XL tanks always (which I like to wear as a cover-up. Dicks is extremely proud of the UA and Nike gear but I’ve found some really good deals with the Reebok compression gear (On sale but buy one, get one 50%.) Also, Target’s Champion Sports Bras are awesome — I’ve not found them on clearance, but the selection of neon colors is great — I have to stay out of there!

  23. Briana @ The Health Life Balance

    April 6, 2012 at 7:59 PM

    Great list! I just bought 2 outfits from JC Penney and spent more than I would have liked. Funny because I was going to Target initially. I live for Marshalls/Ross/TJ Maxx so I’ll stick to them, Target, and clearance for my gear. I’m already an Amazon fiend, so I’ll do that too.

    Also if you want a good pair of yoga pants, NY&C has great quality ones, and you can usually catch them on sale.

  24. Tracey

    April 13, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    Thanks so much for this list. I keep thinking that buying the right workout clothes would inspire me to actually workout. :)

  25. Shateela

    May 16, 2012 at 2:36 AM

    Don’t forget running expos! If there is a larger marathon or half marathon in your city there is usually an expo the day before along with packet pickup. Many larger stores bring tons of clearance items and you will also find many small business owners selling products they have developed! Even if you are not running the race it might be worth it to check out th expo.

  26. Chelsia

    May 18, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    I get my Danskin workout gear from Walmart the pants are $12 all kinds and the tops are $5 they are the “dry fit” tops I lovvveee them for Kick Boxing!

  27. Leslie

    June 8, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    My fav is Marshalls/TJ Maxx or WalMart. I’m jealous you got compression socks for $1!!
    As for the XL’s in Dicks’…I’m from Indiana (Naptown!) most of us that are trying to lose weight on a budget, don’t shop in Dicks on a regular cause it’s too expensive and it’s nothing but skinny little women and their soccer playing daughters bopping around LOL! Otherwise I find that surprising since we’re one of the largest states in the country!

  28. Erica

    June 15, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    My favorite way to save: jersey material, thread, a sewing machine, and about an hour. Works every time and is pretty cheap.

  29. BossLady

    June 15, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    When I started working out, I went to ol’ faithful…WALMART. Although there quality is not the best, for starting out and just to have to throw away (I do not believe in goodwilling workout clothes because depending on how hard to you, clothes can hold an ordor and have to be replaces) when you start dropping the pounds, it was the perfect savior.
    But when the weight started falling off, I got cuter, better quality pieces from TJ Maxx, Target (I love their colors) and The Nike Clearance Center. The Nike Clearance Center is TOTALLY different from the Outlet. I got tons of dri fit tanks for 5 bucks, shorts for $3, pants for under $20 (depending on the type).

    • Arlissa

      August 31, 2012 at 1:41 PM

      Where would I find Nike Clearance Centers?

  30. nikki from N.VA

    June 15, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    thanks for the info…I usually go to walmart or discounts stores (Ross and Marshalls especially for kicks here in VA) Diva on a Budget lol..who’s looking at your workout clothes anyway

  31. Ty

    June 29, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    You forgot the cheap/club gear spots: Dots, Rainbow, Citi Trendz. All they carry are tanks and leggings. Not the best quality, but it works for those who work out “when we feel like it’. :)

  32. TkldPink

    July 20, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    I attend a lot of volunteer and “for a good cause” events. I always manage to end up with free t-shirts from those. I cut off sleeves/collars to make them more comfy for workouts. I find yoga pants and nice workout bottoms at Walmart on clearance.

    • Arlissa

      August 31, 2012 at 1:33 PM

      I hadnt considered cutting off the sleeves and collars. I have a bunch of tshirts too and its too much material for me to workout.

  33. Jasmine

    August 10, 2012 at 9:59 PM

    Not sure if anyone said this one but Ross has great deals and the Gap, Nike, Reebok outlet stores. I love Target. Their bras are reasonable and they hold my boobs in place during cardio.

  34. STLAries

    August 11, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    Walmart’s clothes are cute, but of poor quality and really don’t fit that well. Also not very moisture wicking. J C Penny has some cute stuff. Target is expensive, but usually have shirts for $10. Kohl’s can get pricy.

  35. Sydney

    August 17, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    This is a great list! Also try Kohl’s. They carry name brands like nike, Adidas, Fila but also their ‘own’ brand which is pretty inexpensive. I always rummage their clearance section, bought three shirts recently for under $20!

  36. Nyla Coils

    August 31, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    I get my clothes from Goodwill. I have danskin, nike and addidas. All for $4 each! Because my “Girls” are larger, I have to spend REAL money on my sports bras, barenecessities.com

    • Arlissa

      August 31, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      Nyla,

      I cant ever find any exercise stuff. Are they kept on a separate rack in your store?

      • Nyla Coils

        June 29, 2013 at 3:54 PM

        Arlissa, they are usually kept in the section by the shorts. (i live in SC)

  37. Arlissa

    August 31, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Great article. I had forgotten all about Target even though I’m still wearing workout bike shorts and sports bras from ~5 years ago that I purchased from there.

    You also didn’t add Wal-Mart to the list. They’ve got a good selection, covering all the sizes, and prices are real good even before they put them on clearance, which they do pretty regularly.

    • Erika Nicole Kendall

      August 31, 2012 at 1:43 PM

      I was trying to avoid including the “duh” answers. That wouldn’t have been helpful at. All. LOL.

  38. CC

    September 7, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    I have tried all of the suggestions here and then some. Nordstrom Rack has some great choices. I go to the citadel outlet in Commerce, CA. They have an Old Navy and Gap outlet store so I get few pieces from there. I also hit up the Hanes brand outlets. They have Champion sports bras which are the bees knees to me.

  39. LaShanna Richardson

    September 7, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    Kohl’s has great stuff too! The prices are pretty reasonable and they are always emailing 15-20% coupons to add onto the already low price!

  40. starrynight

    December 4, 2012 at 7:14 AM

    Don’t forget eBay! I LOVE that place – get loads of cheap and cheerful things that have not been worn. (I don’t mind used clothing but I do mind used sports wear..!!)

  41. Lady T

    December 4, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Love GAPs workout line! I’ve found items on clearance there for $4.99. They also have frequent sales if you sign up for their emails.

  42. Charey

    December 4, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    Ebay. Period.

  43. Danyel

    December 4, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    I just read about myself…wearing whatever I can find to the gym…LOL…thanks for posting this! It is time to invest in my lifestyle change! #GoodByeLeggings!

  44. mssusangb

    June 28, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    I’ve bought my favorites at Target and Kohl’s.

  45. Andrea

    June 29, 2013 at 12:05 AM

    “I don’t know what size the bras go up to, though, and I try not to look. It makes me miss the wonders that were, on my own chest”

    Best line haha. I love the C9 bras! They are so comfy and wash well.

    And yes, don’t sleep on Old Navy. They just had an activewear sale last week and I cleaned up. $7 sports bras, $5 tees, and a pair of compression pants for $15

    Nice post :)

  46. Martha

    July 17, 2013 at 5:10 AM

    This is a nice article and am glad to see my fav forever 21 in the list

  47. Katie

    August 9, 2013 at 5:34 AM

    Great list! One thing the discourages me doing neighborhood jogs is the colder weather. I prefer yoga pants inside the gym yet when jogging outside sweat pants are the best.

  48. Stacey

    September 1, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    I have purchased a lot of cute tops and bottoms $4 a piece at consignment and thrift stores which is great when you begin to go down in size. A lot of them were practically new. I have found brand names like Nike, Addidas, Danskins, Gap and Old Navy to name a few, I have more than I can use now.

  49. kat

    October 9, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    Everyone forgot about JC penny. They have a huge section of fitness wear and clothes are often on sale!

  50. Andrea

    October 16, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    I just wanted to let you know, I’ve hit your site a few times while researching through my diet journey, and what an awesome blog! I am super impressed with how far you’ve come along, and I too, now teach at a Curves and am a Zumba instructor, so kudos to us, right? I was feeling a little uneasy, perhaps unworthy of wearing some cute workout clothes, but baby here I come! Keep up the good work girl!! You’re an inspiration!

  51. Mae Jones

    November 7, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    Someone actually mentioned Kohl’s but I have to give them more kudos because you can get Nike, Adiddas, Fila, Tek Gear and a few other brands on sale and with their additional 15, 20 or 30% off and in most cases Kohl’s cash. Fila’s designs are awesome and their clothes fit the best. I also shop at Dicks, Sports Authority, TJ Maxx, Burlington and Ross to just look sometimes. I truly coordinate my outfits and I love vibrant colors anytime of the year. I’ve lost 70 lbs thus far and hope to hit 100 by my birthday May 2014. I now buy my fitness pants/tights in mediums because I can wear them even after losing more weight but if they are too big its hard to work out in them. My 2cents.

  52. mangomadness

    April 6, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    Most of my workout clothes are from the Dankin Now line at Walmart ’cause I like the price, quality and design. I buy online at Walmart.com or Ebay ’cause I don’t shop at WalMart otherwise. I check regularly to catch sales. For sizing, Google ‘Danskin sizing information’.

    I buy sports bras from the clearance rack TJMaxx/Marshall’s/Ross ’cause I can get away with it.

  53. Stephie

    July 30, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    Thanks for this post. Good lookin’ out! I frequent a sight called Hautelook in search of workout gear. They have “events” of different brands so you just have to look every day to see what events they’re having. But I have gotten a lot of quality workout clothes, including bras, for cheap like $12 pants, $7 tops, $9 bras. Oh, and shoes, too. They have events for athletic shoes as well.

    • Stephie

      July 30, 2014 at 10:29 AM

      *site. I know nobody cares, but if I didn’t correct that, it would have driven me crazy :/

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