I’ve got a confession to make. For a long time, I didn’t own a sports bra. And by a long time, I mean the first, say, 18 months of my weight loss – when me and my 42G boobs bounced around in a double-layered bra/top combo that, quite frankly, did my girls no justice whatsoever.
I don’t know if it was a result of self-doubt, and a reluctance to believe I’d actually be able to commit to a healthy living routine, or simply a fear of heading into a department store and attempting to buy a sports bra as a fat girl – but I just kept putting it off.
Also – these things are hella expensive. Or rather, they seemed it, when I was on minimum wage and attempting to self-fund a master’s degree. What with a reasonably priced one costing somewhere around the £30 mark, it seemed like one helluva ‘spensive investment – and so, I put it off.
Thing is, though – and I say this from experience – a good sports bra really can do wonders for your workout. For me, personally, the crunch came when I started taking my cardio a tad more seriously. As far as my homemade efforts went, I could manage weights and walking without too much discomfort – but once I started attempting to run, the risk of two black eyes and a chipped tooth became a little much. Y’all – it was time.
But man – choosing is hard. And so, in the interests of science, me and my now 36D-ish knockers have spent the last two months testing out all of the big-name brands in the sports bra world – to save you both time, and money.
The test was thus – jogging, jumping, and a good old fashioned bend and snap. Then, a run through the wash – ’cause hell, if you’re a busy woman like me, you don’t have time to be hand washing your delicates every time you manage to squeeze in a workout. And finally, style – because frankly, this fat girl likes to look good when she’s workin’ out the booty.
Told you it was scientific.
So, without further ado, I bring you: the Bra Wars.
When I put it out to Twitter that I was first attempting this challenge, the Shock Absorber brand came up time and again as the highest recommended by my tweetin’ crew. And with good reason – personally, I found it to be one of the best in terms of keeping the ladies in place, no matter how bouncy my running efforts became.
This, I figured, was some kind of witchcraft – because I’ll be honest, when I first pulled this bad boy out of the box, I couldn’t really understand how it’d hold anything in place. Hell, it didn’t even look like it’d fit. Aside from the foam on the straps, it’s largely seam-free, with no padding and what looks like no structural integrity – which gave me some severe doubts.
However, when on, it held everything down perfectly – with very little movement in any of my Very Scientific Tests. It held up well in the wash, although the foam padding went a tad curly and needed straightening out each time – not, by any means, a severe issue, but a tiny niggle.
In terms of style, though, the Shock Absorber Run Bra fell down a tad – it’s super-functional, but a tad bland to look at. In the end, that’s the last of the criteria you ought to be thinking about when choosing a sports bra – and it does come in a gorgeous purple colour (which, alas, I couldn’t get when I was hunting). However, it’s a brilliant bra – and if you’re looking for something to hold everything in place… This is it.
Bend and Snap: 8/10
Stockists: Less Bounce, £28.00
The Panache Sports Bra seems to be designed with the larger-breasted ladies in mind – and it was a clear winner for me in the style stakes, not least because it came with some super-gorgeous matching pants.
Yeah, I know, I’m vain. But if I get hit by a bus when out running, at least my Ma will be pleased to know I’m wearing matching undies when the ambulance comes to pick me up.
It’s got much more structure than the Shock Absorber, giving the girls a much-needed boost without seeming to compromise on effectiveness – but this does mean that they’re marginally more likely to go astray when you’re hitting the ol’ star-jumps. With that said, I was beyond impressed at the overall design on this one, given the way it ticked both the style and functionality boxes – and it’s my preferred choice when I’m out exercising these days (and when I’m not – because damn it, this is one comfy bra.)
It held up really well against my rather violent washing machine – several washes later, and it’s still holding shape and colour beyond any of the other bras here – and the option to choose between racer-back or regular straps means it’s just the right level of noticeable under most workout tops.
In other words – this baby is my new life partner.
Bend and Snap: 7/10
I really, really wanted to like this one – because aesthetically, it looked the most like a traditional bra, and it came in a whole range of colours, all of which I’d happily team with pretty much any workout outfit.
Unfortunately, I’d rate this one at the more disappointing end of the spectrum – although like the Panache, I did like the option to wear either with the straps down, or cinched together mid-shoulder in a racer back. It feels as though it should do more, with a solid structure and a light, but firm material – but alas, in terms of functionality, the Freya Active really fell down, leaving me with considerably more jiggle than the other bras tested here.
It held up well in the wash, looked gorgeous, and – to the credit of the stockist, Blossom Lingerie, came beautifully boxed in purple packaging – but alas, the Freya Active was a disappointing choice, and won’t make the cut in my future workouts.
Bend and Snap: 5/10
Stockists: Blossom Lingerie, £36.00
Anita Extreme Control Sports Bra
This one was something of a wildcard – not one of the three ‘big brands’ mentioned above. I’d heard rumours, though, that the Anita bra was something of a surprise leader – and I have to say, it was very, very impressive.
Sitting somewhere between the Shock Absorber and Panache in terms of style, the Anita didn’t seem as ‘heavy’ as the latter, taking some of the lightweight, seamless witchcraft of the Shock Absorber, albeit with a bit of extra boost. It also seems to carry a lot of the boob weight below shoulder level, holding everything in place seemingly weightlessly – which was something of a miracle, and not a sensation I’ve experienced with any of the others.
I’d say with that in mind, the Anita is the easiest to ‘forget’ when running – and I mean that as no bad thing at all. It’s a credit to excellent engineering – and a very impressive addition to the sports bra set. However, at £46.00, it’s also the most expensive of the bunch – but it held up well to repeated washes, and it’s a great fit. One to watch, I reckon.
Bend and Snap: 8/10
Stockists: LessBounce, £46.00
So, overall, a worthwhile experiment – and I’ll be honest, I’m a total convert to the world of sports bras. It’s an investment, fo’ sho – but one I’d really recommend if you’ve got designs on getting fit, and looking stylish along the way.
I know this isn’t it, though – there are so many brands out there that I’m sure there are others that’d stand up to my rigorous tests. So… Any recommendations?