Home > General Apparel

The frugal athlete’s guide to shopping

By Caela Fenton

Athletic gear can be pricey, especially if you’re buying from specialty sport stores. While it can seem like such specialty stores are the only option, many more everyday clothing stores offer gear that is equally functional and much less expensive particularly for running. And  you’ll probably end up with a few pieces that no one else in your running group has!

My first encounter with buying fitness gear at a regular clothing store was, in part, an act of desperation. I had been in university for one week when my coach informed me that I would be racing that coming weekend. Due to the fact that the team order of racing shorts was not yet in, I was instructed to wear black spandex shorts without a logo. I nodded, giddy at the prospect of my first post-secondary race, and skipped back to residence. That was when it dawned on me that I didn’t own a pair of black spandex shorts, did not know my way around my new town and, even if I had known where to go, did not have a car to get anywhere.

The next day, I wandered to downtown Kingston and walked into American Apparel. I knew I needed to look for the shorts, but figured I could also browse some regular clothes while I was out. But there, hanging on the rack, was a pair of black spandex shorts, sans label, waiting for me. I raced my first three cross-country races in those AA shorts and opened my mind to non-running clothing stores.

Here are some of my favourites:

Joe FreshJoe Fresh:

Joe Fresh is the clothing branch of Loblaw Companies Ltd. and can be found in most of their grocery stores. Joe offers a selection of cute tanks, tees, tights and shorts, most of which are under $20.00. While inexpensive, the gear is still on trend. The black shorts to the right are almost identical to a pair designed by Stella McCartney for Adidas and the sports bras have a similar appearance to what you would see from athletic retailers, for a quarter of the price.

Joe Fresh isn’t just for the ladies either. It has a full selection of men’s clothing, including reflective, swaet-wicking gear.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 10.13.25 AMGap:

Workout gear is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Gap, but the clothing store has drastically increased their fitness gear with the introduction of Gap Fit. The line is perfect for people like myself who enjoy running gear that can double as casual wear.


I can’t say I am surprised to be including H&M on this list; I Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 10.17.21 AMmean, what can’t you get at H&M? Snake skin inspired running tights for $30.00? I’d say that’s worth checking out.

The men’s clothing is worth checking out, too. The singlet H and Mon the left, besides looking sleek, is also partly made from recycled materials and costs less than $15.00.

This is by no means an exhaustive list (and I’d be interested to know where you have had luck purchasing fitness gear).

So, the next time you head out shopping, keep an open mind and don’t be married to the usual suspects. You may find that you’re able to make some stylish additions to your running wardrobe without taking a huge hit to your bank account.

The caveat to this advice would be with regards to shoes. When it comes to running, your shoes are something that you should stick to specialty running stores with knowledgeable sales representatives.