I Haven't Worked Out in Six Months—Here's the Outfit Getting Me Back to the Gym

Here's the unfortunate truth: I haven't had a steady workout routine in almost six months. In 2018, I was going to Pilates three times a week, but then some crazy personal and professional stuff happened that still hasn't let up (did I mention I published a book last month?)—and I hate to say it, but my workout routine was the first thing to get nixed off my priority list.

Now it's been literally half a year, and I know I have to get back on the horse. But something that's been holding me back (and I know this sounds like a bad excuse) is that I am so freaking bored with my current fitness wardrobe, which hasn't been updated since before I stopped exercising. It's not that easy to get new leggings and sports bras, though. That ish is expensive!

People around the office obviously talk about our sister brand Joylab—an affordable activewear line at Target—all the time, but to be perfectly honest, I was always skeptical since I've been brainwashed by capitalism to think you have to spend $100 on leggings to get a decent pair. But then, the other week, I was practically forced to finally give Joylab a chance. And I can genuinely say I was shocked by how trendy, comfortable, flattering, and durable (I did a few lunges and stretches to test) the pieces were. Now that I have a few new workout outfits, I'm actually motivated to hit the Pilates studio again—in fact, I just signed up for a five-class bundle.

Below, see the budget-friendly Joylab outfits getting me back into the swing of exercising… plus the ones I plan to add to my cart next. 

Amanda Montell - Joy Lab


Amanda Montell

I love how these high-neck long-line tank tops look on models but due to my less-then-modelly stature (I'm 5'2" on a good day) and mild distaste for that dreaded armpit fat area, I'd so far avoided them. However, I enjoyed the light gray hue and mesh detailing on this matching set so much, I decided to give it a go. After acclimating to how my body looked in this new silhouette, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I dug it.

Though the bra isn't the most supportive one in the world (shoutout fellow D cups and bigger), it is very soft and comfy. Good thing Pilates is my workout of choice, meaning chest support isn't all that important.

It helps that the leggings are very, very soft. Like, scary soft. Didn't want to take them off. I will admit I was nervous about the risk of, well, camel toe because of the light color. And to be fair, these aren't quite "camel toe–proof," if that even exists. But, hey, if a little bit of cleavage is considered cute, I guess that could be, too?

This similarly light-colored, high-neck, long-line set is next in my shopping cart. It's only about $50 for the two pieces, but aesthetically I think it compares to many of Outdoor Voices' offerings. 

These look even softer than the gray pair I own. Gimme. 

I'm pretty sure printed workout clothes are a fear as common as death and public speaking, but this matching set is understated yet fun enough that I immediately felt good in it. It helped that the top was surprisingly supportive for such a strappy little thing.

These leggings are even more absurdly soft and comfy than the gray ones. Even if/when I fall off the workout wagon again, I'll be wearing them often.

Workout Outfits


Amanda Montell

love me a barre-inspired wrap top. So flattering, and adds the perfect amount of coverage to a bra-and-leggings or bra-and-shorts set, like the one above. This one comes in light blue, gray, dusty pink, and white, and right now it's on sale for just 16 bucks.

Now that I've gotten over my aversion to high necklines, next I'm going to try this unique shape, which reads like a more modern take on the classic halter.

So, this outfit basically perfectly represents my taste in workout apparel: It starts with a long-sleeve slightly cropped top with mesh detail, which offers plenty of coverage but is still fun. And the heather gray color is timeless.

I am obsessed with the idea of high-quality seamless leggings. So damn comfy and effortless. I can see myself wearing these to Pilates then slipping on some cute sneakers and a chic jacket to go out to drinks.

Yellow is my favorite color, but you don't often see it in fitness apparel. This sunny, lightweight, short-sleeve top is perfect to throw on for a little more coverage or warmth. I also love how you can leave the open back loose or tie it into a crop top, which is how I've been wearing it. 

Workout Tops


Amanda Montell

This becoming purple set is currently on sale for less than $40 total. Adding to cart immediately.

The "cropped" legging length is more like a 7/8 length on my 5'2" frame, so I anticipate these being a little long. Ideal for taller folks, though!

I have a Nike jacket that is practically identical so this style, except it cost well over $100. At 35 bucks, this chic, futuristic sheer white zip-up is a steal.

This was the first and only Joylab piece I owned for a while, and it is truly the softest freaking material I have ever touched. Possibly related, the first time my boyfriend ever kissed me, I was wearing this. So this jacket might contain magical powers?

A cute peachy-pink workout bag to throw all my new gear in. Love the roominess and various compartments. And, of course, the absurdly low price point.

Next: The most stylish summer hair accessories.