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Gym Mysteries: The Curse of the Disappearing Workout Pants! [How do you cover your butt?]

Posted Nov 14 2012 12:50am

These hot-off-the-screen-printer Nike X-Ray Leggings are so popular that they’re already sold out in every color and size. And yet… I don’t know that I love them. They feel a little naked to me. Like those weird jean skirts that have the undies painted on the outside. Also, knowing me, I’d be way too tempted to point at the pelvic girdle and be like “So this is where my hips loosen and expand and here’s where the babies come out!”

And by disappearing, I mean de-materializing right when you’re at the bottom of a really deep, heavy squat, leaving your assets disconcertingly uncovered thanks to too-stretchy too-thin fabric. A fact you won’t notice on your own, by the way, unless it’s in the reflection of an oddly placed mirror or you’re really good at reading the shocked looks on your friends’ faces. For me, it was the latter.

Let’s be honest: If there is a way to inadvertently flash someone in the gym I have done it. I got a little too aggressive with the shirt-cutting-art and had my top disintegrate mid-stretch. I did a handstand and had a too-loose shirt slide right over my head and down my arms. I had a heavy pager clipped to the back of my worn yoga pants that de-pantsed me better than any middle schooler. Heck, I’ve basically stopped wearing track shorts for anything other than just straight running because of their tendency to flash my goodies at inconvenient moments. There is a reason the Gym Buddies invented “the cleavage corner” on our weight floor – and it covers both varieties. So when I got this e-mail from Reader A, I totally had an “Ohhhhh GIRL!” moment. My ovaries high-fived.

“Ok -this is a pretty dumb question, but I figured I would give it a shot. Since you are the smartest and funniest workout guru I know (although we’ve never met or communicated ’til today) I thought you might be able to humor me with said “dumb question”. Anyhoo – here’s my sitch…I love working out in capris (black of course), but have found that no matter what kind I buy (cheapo or pricey), they stretch so much when I bend over they become see through – like “girl I can see your butt crack” see through. (you don’t wanna know how I found that little bit of info out) So – do you know of a brand of workout pants I can buy that don’t do the stretch and show? Or is the answer really, workout til your butt is smaller and this won’t be an issue?”

1. This is not a dumb question. This is an awesome question and one I’ve had WAY too much fun thinking about.

2. Oh yes I do want to know how you found that out!

3. “Do the stretch and show” is becoming a part of my gym vocabulary as of this second. Off the top of my head I can think of at least 12 occasions where that would be contextually appropriate. And yoga doesn’t even make the top ten.

4. Repeat after me: It is not my butt’s job to fit my clothes, it is my clothes’ job to fit my butt. I don’t know you and sadly you did not send a picture of your stretch and show (see? There’s one already!) but I can guarantee you that it’s not your butt. I say this because it’s happened to almost all of us.

And because so many Gym Buddies of the female variety have fallen victim to the curse of the disappearing pants, I actually do have a few useful suggestions.

1. Brand/style. The Fila compression toning resistance capri tights *, the Champion shaping capris * and the Lucy Perfect Core Capris * are all super thick. Like double-layer thick. It’s a mixed blessing: while I’ve never had an attack of the crack-en (The Kraken? Get it? Puns are not funny when you have to explain them. Yet that does not stop me…) they do make my nethers sweatier than some other pants. I’ve also had good luck with the JC Penney Xersion line which has the added bonus of being super affordable. *I was not paid nor given free product to promote these items. I mention them simply because I own them, like them and wear them.
2. Skirts. I used to be obsessed with finding those “skircapris” or “capri skorts” or whatever you call those things where there’s a skirt attached to the leggings but then I realized I can take any adorable skirt and stick it over any color leggings and – viola! – endless combinations of “capriskirts”. Or whatever. My point: I have a lot of workout skirts and I layer them over my capris. That solves the see-through issue, camouflages problem areas  and (at least in my opinion) look adorbs too. (And if you’re looking for a super-cute one that also supports a great cause, Mizfit is selling her printed workout skort now !) I know some girls don’t like the whole girly-girl vibe of skirts though so sometimes I do the same with short-shorts – I used to just look dorky but it’s totally a trend now, thank you Sun Drop Girl! (P.S. If you get a skirt that doesn’t have attached shorts, it’s worth it to safety pin the skirt to the waistband of your capris to prevent unfortunate skirt migrations.)
See? Layering a Nike tennis skirt over (see-through) Old Navy capris! So cute it goes straight from the gym to voting! (Although Jelly Bean thought I said we were going “boating” and threw the biggest tantrum ever when we got there and there was no water, swimsuits or inner tubes.”
3. Patterns/Colors. You have to be choosy here – some patterns only accentuate the problem (horizontal stripes, eek) but some are quite good at camouflaging cameltoe, crack-age and lady bits! I have a tie-dye pair that are so mind-blowing with all the colors and swirlies going on that no one ever notices my crack and even if they did it would probably give them a seizure first. Colors are tricky too. Black, as most of us have discovered, is by far the most forgiving! Not only does it hide crotch sweat and slim you but it’s best for full-coverage. However, I happen to love me some bright tights and I do have a couple of pair from Balera (yes the dancewear company) that are thick enough to wear on their own. The others I tend to layer under stuff. But the only way to really tell if the color/print is flattering or flashing is to try the pants on and then bend waaay over in front of a mirror. Hopefully you’re flexible enough to see your tush. If not, you may have enlist a close friend to help you out. Sing “Baby Got Back” – it will make the whole experience less awkward. Double funsies if he/she can beat box.
4. Undies. I hate panty lines too. And scrunchy double layers. But I do have one pair of Nike Core Compression tights that are too cute to get rid of but too sheer to wear solo. So I put flesh-colored undies under. It’s not a perfect solution – flesh colored means it still kinda looks like my butt but at least there’s no crack! So people will either assume you’re like Barbie with strangely unformed nethers or they’ll see the panty line and figure it out. Okay, now that I’ve written that out I’m thinking I should wear my hot pink polka dot undies instead to make it clear that I’m not a flasher? Also, some Gym Buddies swear by thongs. I can’t handle them. I hate the way they ride in everyday wear and wearing them to workout is wedgie hell. Also, they don’t do anything with the crack problem so if that’s your purpose then why bother? But some girls love them so I thought I’d throw that out.
5. Avoid cotton. 
Shorts, capris or pants: What are you fave workout bottoms? Do you have any recommendations/tips for A? Do you have a good butt crack story to share? Annnnd… what do you think of the x-ray Nikes?
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