The athleisure bubble shows no sign of bursting yet, and whether you prefer to wear leggings strictly during a gym session or wear them as everyday pants, we know how hard it is to find a nice-looking, comfortable, and affordable pair. And which ones will stand up to a good workout? Here, 11 fitness pros and instructors of classes from sweaty HIIT to meditative yoga weigh in on their favorites.
Best for high-intensity workouts
A relative newcomer to the workout-wear scene, Australian brand Lilybod received shout-outs from two of our experts. Tatiana Lampa, who teaches HIIT classes at Fithouse, says, “They make your legs look nice, make your butt look good, and hug you the right way.” They’re also a favorite of Dianna Falzarano’s, director of TRX programming at Flex Studios. She likes that they’re “a thin material but not see-through, and they really keep their shape when you wash them.” She’s had one pair for three years and says they still look as good as new. Plus, the moisture-wicking fabric ensures that they won’t show — or smell like — sweat.
Lampa and Falzarano are also fans of Nike Pro leggings, which meet the demands of intense, high-impact workouts. As Falzarano says, “They’re super compressive, so they’re nice and tight and not constantly falling down,” and both instructors say the mesh panels and cropped length help with keeping cool.
For a high-waisted legging that doesn’t need adjusting during a dance cardio workout, modelFIT instructor Ashley Rosenberg loves Ultracor. While other leggings sometimes feel droopy at the waist or in the legs, Rosenberg says this is “one of the few pairs that I can kind of forget that they’re on throughout the entire workout.” She thinks the black-on-black star print is “the coolest,” and the best for masking sweat. The extra-high waistband also has a flattering effect.
While classes at Brrrn are held in a cold room (for a variety of health benefits), they’re still intense enough that founding instructor Coco Minot needs breathable, moisture-wicking leggings. Her go-tos are the fun, printed options from the Upside. “I love how lightweight they are, yet I still feel secure in them when I’m jumping and running,” she says, “and they aren’t see-through at all.”
Best for barre and low-impact workouts
Falzarano counts Outdoor Voices as one of her top picks, but adds that they’re best for barre or other lower-intensity classes since they’re not quite as sweat-proof as the options above. Still, there are plenty of reasons why you might want them in your workout wardrobe. Hannah Jean Hildreth, an instructor at 305 Fitness, says, “They allow me to move freely and look svelte as heck. They’re also great for yoga because I find they stretch in all directions and wick sweat quickly. The band at the top reminds me to engage my core without being so tight that they’re uncomfortable.” The brand’s rotating seasonal color palettes gives them a cool, limited-edition feel.
These athletic-inspired leggings come recommended by Rosenberg, who says, “I’ve never worn any other piece of clothing that makes my waist look so small and tight.” She explains that the V-shaped waistband gives the illusion that your waist is also tapered and V-shaped. Although she loves the look, she adds as a caveat that the fabric “just feels like you’re sweating in cotton. So I just wear these for a toning or Pilates class where I’m not working up as much of a sweat.”