First, a confession. The first time I ventured in to the wonderful world of sports bras, I didn’t really know what I was looking for. I mean, I knew vaguely what a sports bra should do – stop me knocking myself or passers-by out with G-Unit as I staggered by them on the street – but beyond jumping up and down in a changing room, before I started running regularly I had no idea what of what a decent sports bra really consisted of.
Now with about a year of running under my belt and Pilates, cycling and the gym added to my activity rota, I know a bit more. So with lots of new bras on the market, I thought it was time to take another look at sports bras both old and new and see how they fared with more rigorous testing. First up: Freya Active‘s popular soft cup sports bra in the brand new jet colourway. It’s first test: Pilates.
A second confession – revelation rather -, for those who haven’t tried it and may have been put off for the same reasons I was… Pilates is nothing like it is in Sex and the City. It is not a room full of impossibly groomed women contorting effortlessly in perfect union. Don’t let that misconception stop you from trying something that is so good, and good for you. Pilates class is more commonly a room full of women in mismatched sportswear and with variations of the same creaky joints and aches and pains as you have. And if you’re lucky, your friend will be on the next mat laughing along when the instructor invites you to “make your own music” or tells you that “going down is the hardest thing…” There is nothing intimidating about Pilates at all: well worth giving it a go.
But on to the important part. The bra. The four-hooked back was very flat and comfortable during mat work, and the fabric is designed to keep you dry and cool while you work out (absolutely essential in sportswear. If you can afford to splash out on gym kit, I also recommend Nike Dri-Fit sports gear. Keeps you comfortable in all conditions). I love the new colourway and the widened straps over the shoulder add extra comfort in those bends and stretches.
I tried a 28GG, which is my preferred size for running in Freya (I’m between a 28 and a 30 back, and I prefer a snug fit for intensive activity, but I’d probably suggest inbetweenies sizing up if they want this bra specifically for Pilates or Yoga. The tightness is not ideal for the deep breaths and long stretches, and this bra will need to wear in a bit before I wear it again in class. That said, upside down, sideways and every other which way the teacher sent me, my boobs were totally supported (albeit hilariously not necessarily in the same direction, it has to be said…). For Pilates, it certainly does its job.
The downside? The shape is – certainly on me – bizarre. Putting it on prompted hysterical giggles in the changing room while the the end of my boobs failed to ease immediately in to the end of my bra: fembot nipples protruding visibly under my vest. And while this was soon rectified, my boobs looked less ‘popping to the gym’ and more ‘popping out people’s eyes left right and center’. Part Cone Bra, part Peggy-from-Mad-Men-in-a-sweater, I was as 50s sex vixen as it’s possible to be with Dri-Fit Lycra and a tangled ponytail. It might not be the look I’d default to in a fitness situation, but a look it is indeed…
All in all, crazy as the shape is the Freya Active soft cup is clearly a good bra for Pilates, and I think whether or not you pick this over an underwired sports bra is purely down to your own personal taste. I think in my heart I’m an underwire girl, but after a day in wires it’s definitely a treat to slip in to something softer for a calming workout. Soft as it may be it’s certainly no lightweight in the studio. Let’s see how it fares with the running and the cycling…