Toning apparel falls into three categories: underwear, compression garments and workout clothes - each with their own science to back up their claims.
First up was the Shapercise. They promise to "increase energy expenditure during daily activities" through the use of special resistance bands. While I did not feel any pump in my panties (I'm sorry, I can't help it!), they did suck me in and smooth me out beautifully and for half the price of Spanx. It would be difficult to measure if they did actually help me burn extra calories but they were comfy and looked good under clothes.
Next were the SKINS compression capri tights. Made for athletes, the science behind using compression to aid performance and speed muscle recovery is pretty solid. SKINS uses a special "gradient compression" to enhance circulation and give you that little edge. (And you'll pay for it, these babies aren't cheap.) So how did they feel? Embarrassing. When they say SKINS, they do mean they will fit you like a second skin. They make Katy Perry's liquid latex suit look chaste. And they're about as flattering as latex. My tushie was compressed into non-existence and my waist-skin overfloweth. And yes this led to a wardrobe malfunction (more on that later). But once I got over myself (I mean the whole point of compression pants is that they're really tight, right?) and tested them out in my wicked-hard bootcamp class I was impressed to find that the compression felt really awesome on my legs. I also wasn't sore the next day and I usually am. These really do what they say they will. You just won't look supercute doing it.
Lastly there are the toning clothes - shirts, tanks, capris, shorts, pants and tights all with built-in panels designed to "create extra resistance as you move" thereby activating more muscles and burning more calories. I tried out the Fila toning pants, wearing them to several workouts ranging from weight lifting to TurboKicking. Did they help my muscles? Who cares? I've never had so many compliments on my butt! And I probably burned some extra calories what with having to check out my rear view in every reflective surface. As a workout pant, they are very tight but not uncomfortable. They're quite thick which minimizes indecent sweat marks but I didn't overheat. My only real complaint is the length. I'm 5'7" and these were high-waters on me. I kept tugging them down trying to make them at least hit my shoes but they didn't stay. My advice is if you are taller than 5'4" go with the shorts or the capris to avoid a length issue.
So, did the clothes live up to their ad hype? The Shapercise worked well as a body shaper but I'm not convinced it increased my calorie burn. The SKINS lived up to their science but failed in the cute department (on me anyhow, the models on their site look smokin'). And the Fila toning pants are the most butt-flattering pants I've ever worn plus they were comfy so if they do do anything toning-wise it would just be icing as I'd wear them anyhow.
Want to try some of your own? I've got one pair of Shapercise and one pair of Fila toning pants for two lucky readers! Just leave me a comment below to enter. Contest ends midnight Friday. (I have to keep it short or I forget I'm running one and that's just embarrassing.)
What do you think about the new toning clothing - fad or wave of the future? Have you ever tried any? Do science-y explanations usually make you want to buy the product or just make you roll your eyes?