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Originally published Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 5:08 AM

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Focus on fitness, not fashion, with the right apparel

New technologies in fitness clothing enhance sun protection, nighttime safety and odor protection.

Special to The Seattle Times

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There are a slew of fitness fashions that make ludicrous claims, like toning shoes that have lost million-dollar advertising lawsuits, bracelets that claim to improve balance and strength, and clothes that manufacturers swear will help melt fat. While it’s true that a new workout outfit can add some pep to your reps and help motivate you to actually go work out, nothing you put on can actually improve your performance. Clothes, can however, do more for your workouts than make you look good.

There is new technology in fitness clothing that allows it to pull double duty, so it not only keeps you cool and covered, it can actually protect you from exercise hazards so you can focus on your workout, not your wardrobe.

Sun protection

Outdoor, daylight exercisers can get allover, built-in sun protection with the help of some special fabrics — look for clothing that offers SPF and UPF protection properties. You’ll still have to use sunscreen to protect your skin, but the right clothing can minimize the amount that’s exposed.

Nighttime safety

Many runners like to beat the summer heat by exercising outdoors at night, but visibility is big safety concern. Instead of layering on extra gear to keep you visible to drivers and other pedestrians, choose clothes with built-in reflectors. One is not enough: You want to make sure you have something reflective on the front, back and both sides of you so you can be seen from every angle. Look for reflective properties on your shoes, bottoms and tops so that you are not only seen but are recognized as a person.

Odor protection

Sweat is a good thing — it means you are adequately hydrated — but that doesn’t make it smell any better. Clothing that wicks sweat away from your body to keep you drier isn’t new, but clothing made with HVAC goes the extra mile to keep you smelling as fresh as you did when you started. HVAC is an odor-fighting fiber that inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria, so if body odor is a concern for you, you now have the ability to fight it with clothes that keep you cool, dry and odorless.

You may find some of these technologies here and there, but if you want them all in one place, check out Brooks, a local running-apparel company based in Seattle and known worldwide for providing high-quality running shoes and clothes. Most of its clothing incorporates all three of these technologies.

Whatever you buy, be aware that no pants or pair of shoes are going to help you burn more calories, lift more weight or run farther. Don’t fall victim to gimmicks; instead, invest in good, sound workout gear that will give you a competitive edge.

Kelly Turner is a fitness expert and freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter: @KellyTurnerFit

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