Health & Wellness Personal Style

The Right Sports Bra Will Get You Out of Bed and Into the Gym

I don’t know about you, but I have had a lot of workouts derailed by the wrong sports bra. Actually, I’ve had a lot of workouts never even happen because of the wrong sports bra.

Let me back up a little and explain: I love yoga and hiking because they improve my mood, help me be in my body and feel strong and flexible. But I’m a busy journalist and working mom (find out more about me and The Eating Instinct); ninety-minute vinyasa classes and leisurely afternoon rambles through the woods are a thing of my past. So my best shot at getting any kind of physical activity into my day is to wake up at 5:30 AM and squeeze it in before my kids are up at 7:30. I’ve been doing this pretty consistently for the better part of a year now, and I truly do crave and adore that time to myself when the house is quiet and nobody expects me to find their socks.

“Many of the sports bras that fit and support me also require knowledge of lock-picking skills to put on”

But I am also human, so I do not adore getting out of bed at 5:30 AM. I do not adore scrounging around in the dark for workout clothes. And I really do not adore struggling into a sports bra in my cold bathroom before I’ve even had my coffee. I wear a 38DDD, and many of the sports bras that fit and support me also require knowledge of advanced yoga postures and lock-picking skills to put on. So even if I make it out of bed, there have been a lot of days when I left the bra on the floor and used my two hours of work/child-free time to read a novel instead. Which was probably a pretty decent choice from a self-care perspective. But! I’m here to tell you about the sports bras that solved it all.

Virginia’s Instagram headstand

After I posted this on Instagram, my followers had a lot of questions about my favorite workout gear. Ironically, in that particular photo, I’m wearing a normal, non-sports bra. It’s the Birdsong Lily Comfort T-Shirt Bra, and I could not love it any more. But when I’m doing a 30-minute power vinyasa flow, a regular bra doesn’t quite cut it.

My other workout of choice is walking up hills in the woods around my house and, while I don’t need runner-level compression, I can definitely tell the difference in terms of support and comfort if I phone in my bra decision. So my friend Brooke offered to hook me up with Christianne, one of Bare Necessities’ Bra Fit Experts. She guided me through measuring myself and asked about my favorite bras. Then she picked out three of Bare Necessities’ best sports bras for me to road test. Headstands, here we come.

The first bra Christianne suggested was the Panache Ultimate High Impact. It won points with me immediately because it clasps like a regular bra—no over-the-head contortions required. It’s also super supportive. I could imagine running in this, if I were a person who enjoyed running. Instead, I wore it for a hike and several yoga workouts, and it never budged. It does feel like I’m wearing A Bra, though. Not a bad thing when you need serious support, but I wouldn’t sleep in it, for example.

I would and did sleep in the second bra, the Anita High Impact Wire-Free Sports Bra. This was the only non-underwire option Christianne sent, and the comfiest, and if you want to make sure you have a sports bra on for a 5:30 AM workout, nothing beats putting it on the night before! It was so weirdly satisfying to wake up and realize I had one less thing to do before getting to my yoga mat. That said, the lack of underwire means that this bra doesn’t do much to shape or uplift, and I’m not so sure I could run in it. These are not big priorities of mine when working out alone in my house, but your mileage may vary.

The last bra, however, might just be the all-rounder. The Natori Yogi Underwire Sports Bra has the underwire and shaping I appreciated in the Panache, but is softer and stretchier, like the Anita. I’ve worn it for multiple workouts of different intensities, and it’s held (me) up solidly every time. I’ve slept in it. It’s easy to put on, washes well and feels good even on those premenstrual, sore boob days.

So with a little assist, it looks like I finally found my spirit animal of a sports bra. I’m not going to say I’ll never skip a workout out again, but at least when I do, a sports bra won’t be the reason.

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Virginia Sole-Smith

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