DRESS FOR WORKOUT SUCCESS
Companies like Lululemon and Athleta brought high style to workout gear, with high prices to match. Still, you can climb down the price ladder and land in territory where fitness apparel suits your activity profile, fashion sense, and budget. There are membership sites, subscription clubs, and ecommerce vendors that offer discounts on activewear for most fitness levels.
There's no cost to joining this membership site, which mounts sales events that last up to three days. Members enjoy excellent deals on outdoor clothing and equipment geared to climbers, bikers, and hikers. Brands are premium, and include New Balance, Asics, Patagonia, and the like. The day we searched, men's apparel sales included Wolverine waterproof hiking boots priced at $85 (a $50 discount) and river shorts for $40 (a $35 savings). The discount section includes items at seriously reduced prices (60 to 90 percent off) that are not time sensitive, although sizes are limited. Members also have access to discounts on adventure vacations.
STEEP AND CHEAP
This sales-event membership site offers steep discounts on outdoor wear and gear for sports like fly fishing and hiking, as well as on apparel for the gym and yoga studio. Brands for men, women, and children include Marmot, North Face, Asics, and Columbia. The big draw here is the "current steal," a heavily discounted item that's on sale for a short period (e.g., 10 minutes) or until it sells out.
Membership in this performance apparel and equipment site yields big savings on brands such as Under Armour, Asics, and Puma. The inventory is geared to women who are serious about their fitness activities. Sale items include sports bras for high-impact workouts and apparel for the three triathlon events -- running, biking, and swimming. Merchandise is deeply discounted and daily specials knock prices down by at least 50 percent. Fitness shoes for hiking, walking, running, climbing, surfing, and even flip flops, are big sellers.
An online vendor of mostly cheap and trendy women's clothing, Mod Deals' activewear department offers some very serious bargains. You can find fitness garb that will see you through gym or yoga workouts with cropped pants and tanks selling for $10 or less. Hoodies and sports bras also top out at $10. The one downside is that size selection is limited, particularly in the clearance section, where items are priced at $5 or less.
Most products stocked by Campmor are camping-related, but there are plenty that find a place in a gym or outdoors workout, including sports bras, bike shorts, and running tights and tops. Almost everything sells at a big discount. Click on the "Deals" section for prices up to 75 percent off on premium brands for men and women, such as Patagonia, New Balance, and Asics.
SIERRA TRADING POST
This site is filled with outdoor gear like kayaks and tents, but the hugely discounted clothing is the highlight. There is tennis and golf apparel for men and women as well as garb for swimming and general workouts. Premium brands include Columbia, Mountain Hardwear, New Balance, and Marmot. Shoes for running, trail hiking, cross training, and every other sport are all at least 25 percent off.
ONE HANES PLACE
This is the online outlet for Hanes, a company that also owns the activewear label Champion and operates an outlet chain bearing its name. There are good bargains on all types of workout gear, including sweats, t-shirts, and shorts for men and women. Sports bras run the gamut from relatively fashion forward to very high impact.
A European sports retailer, KitBag's primary goal is to sell branded activewear with sports teams' logos. Still, anyone can buy running clothes -- shoes, pants, shorts, capris, sports bras, compression pants, and tanks -- for up to 50 percent off. Brands include Nike, Under Armour, Adidas, and Tommy Hilfiger. The site is heavily oriented toward rugby and soccer (that would be football in European parlance) but you can find jackets and t-shirts for many American football and basketball teams. If you're craving a pair of LeBron James basketball shoes, you can get them too, at a savings of more than $100.
The Gap, a corporate sibling of Old Navy, maintains its own line of activewear called Gap Fit. Online, the "Deals" department sells deeply discounted tanks, t-shirts, racer-backs, and hoodies for women; for men there is a large selection of bargain-priced t-shirts. Even the non-sale items are perfect for the gym, yoga, or running, and not too expensive. Gap Fit is also sold in the chain's retail outlets.
SPORTS AUTHORITY OUTLET
Men, women, and children will find apparel for running, yoga, workouts, and various sports at this site. All are heavily discounted, and most of the items cannot be found in the company's physical stores. Shipping is free on orders greater than $49. Joining the rewards program nets you 5 percent back for every $100 spent during a calendar quarter.
This fitness boutique club for women is a bit pricier than the other sources cited here. It offers a VIP membership for $49.95 a month that provides a monthly catalog of picks at discounted prices that are personalized to your lifestyle. It's OK to skip a month, but you must click "skip" on the site to avoid a charge on your credit card. Alternatively, forgo the monthly fee and join as a regular member and pay slightly more for the duds. Outfits are very fashion forward and just right for walking the dog or doing errands. Gear includes t-shirts and tanks with complicated crossover straps, capri and fold-over leggings (top band folds down), and a sports bra that looks attractive but lacks the support necessary for high-impact workouts.