In the world of fitness, it’s easy to get pulled into the consumerism cycle. There are ads for fitness gear everywhere, telling you that their product is something you need to be able to do your best at the gym. It can feel sometimes like if you don’t purchase an item, you’ll feel left out–no longer one of the cool kids.
Then you keep buying and buying because you think you need all this gear to fit in or be good at your sport. You end up with a whole dresser full of fitness clothes. And how much do you actually wear? Probably just a few of your favorites, and the rest just gets abandoned.
We’ve all been stuck in this trap at some point in our lives, and it’s never fun. It feels like you’re just wasting endless money on these things that you don’t need, but it’s so hard to break free, so you just keep doing it.
For me, that was true until I discovered minimalism.
What Is Minimalism And Why Is It Beneficial?
Adopting a minimalist lifestyle just means that you only buy the things that you’ll actually need and use, and that bring you joy and positive benefits in your life.
If we’re talking about fitness, that can mean that rather than owning three or four different pairs of running shoes, you just own one. Rather than an entire rainbow of yoga pants, some of which might not actually be all that high quality but just look cool, you own a few that are really good.
Why adopt this lifestyle? What are the benefits of minimalism?
There are a bunch, but i’ll just list a few so you get the idea:
- You spend way less money. If you only own a few things and don’t need any more, you only need to spend to replace your items when they wear out! And if you pick up a new fitness hobby and need to buy something for it, you’ll only end up with a handful of essentials, rather than a whole shopping haul worth of items. It can save you thousands of dollars over even just a couple of years, depending on how big of a spender you are.
- It’s much better for the environment. Rather than buy a bunch of items and throwing them away–which just creates a bunch of unnecessary waste–you only own what you need and don’t create excess trash.
- It makes it much easier to decide what to wear. Rather than spend half an hour picking a gym outfit to impress the public (who realistically will mostly be focused on themselves), when you have a minimalist wardrobe, it only takes maybe two minutes to decide. This is also really true if you travel. It is so much easier to decide what to bring when you get used to living off very little.
- You typically end up with much higher quality stuff. If you’re only going for items that really benefit you, you often end up much more thoughtful about what you’re purchasing, because it typically means that the item will last a lot longer. Rather than buying a random pair of yoga pants from Target, for example, you might buy a pair from Lululemon or Athleta. It costs more up front, but provides more long term benefit.
Minimalism in Practice – A Look At My Closet
To give you an idea of what that looks like in my own life, here’s all the fitness items I own.
You can see, it’s super basic. I’ve only got one pair of running shoes, a couple shirts, some sports bras, and a few options for shorts or pants based on the temperature. And that’s it, besides some specialized gear I need for some of my favorite sports. Everything else just comes from my normal closet.
How do I stick to such a minimalist fitness wardrobe?
- I typically exercise in mild conditions to reduce the amount of gear that I need for extreme weather. Since I live in a cold climate, the temperature differences between summer and winter can be extreme, and to exercise in the cold, snow, or rain, I’d need lots of extra gear. I get around that by only exercising outdoors in the spring through the fall, then only exercising indoors during the long winter. I also try not to do too much in the rain, which might warrant the need for heavy rain gear.
- I choose sports that don’t require a lot of specialized equipment or regular equipment upgrades. Rock climbing and kickboxing are both fantastic workouts and great social activities that don’t require a lot of gear. To boulder (which is what I mainly do), all you need is a pair of climbing shoes and a bag for chalk. To do kickboxing, you just need gloves and wraps to protect your wrists. As long as you don’t do either sport all the time or to an elite level, and just mix in other workouts, the gear should last at least a few years before needing to be replaced.
- I mix in items from my normal wardrobe for my workouts. If I’m lifting weights at the gym, I’ll probably just wear a standard t-shirt and some flat-soled shoes (often Converse or Vans) with my gym shorts. I don’t need any specialized gear. Same thing with rock climbing. I typically just wear a normal t-shirt and sometimes even stretchy jeans and it’s never posed a problem for me. This reduces the overall amount of gear I need to buy, since I need to use it less often. I probably only need yoga pants or a tech tee once or twice a week, so I only have two of each. It’s the same with sports bras. I only wear them when doing high impact sports (involving jumping or running). The rest of the time, just a normal bralette (I’ve basically abandoned underwire in my normal wardrobe due to discomfort, and bralettes just feel like more comfortable sports bras). I would skip the sports bra if climbing or lifting weights, for example.
Reflections on the Minimalist Lifestyle
Switching to minimalism has improved my life dramatically, and I’d recommend it to pretty much everyone.
Even though I thought at first that I’d feel frustrated or uninspired by the lack of choice in my wardrobe, it hasn’t been that way at all. In fact, more the opposite. I love the lack of choice. It’s so easy for me to just pop on my only clean pair of shorts, and a random t-shirt and be good to go for the gym. As someone who easily lets things prevent me from working out, it’s been a great way of reducing the barriers keeping me from exercising.
It’s definitely not been perfect. I’ve had a couple of times where I ended up a little short on clothing (usually weeks where I suddenly had to do a lot of intensive cardio and didn’t have enough clean sports bras). However, I’m still very satisfied with the wardrobe and would never consider going to a more normal number of items. Instead, I’m just working on optimizing the handful of things that I do have to make them most useful for me.
The pros absolutely have outweighed the cons for me, though, particularly in the realm of money. I’ve maybe had to buy one or two new items per year for the last few years, and that’s it. Compared with people who buy that many new items per week or per month, I’ve saved so much money, and it’s helped me cut back spending in other aspects of my life too.
Sounds pretty great, right?
If the minimalist wardrobe interests you, start thinking about how you can reduce your wardrobe size and pick out just the items you truly benefit from. It won’t be an easy process, and will probably take a long time, but if you stick with it it will almost certainly pay off.
And if you’re stuck at all on where to start, stay tuned. I’m planning on putting out more minimalism posts in the coming months.