When you have three women (plus their personal trainer) in the gym there is bound to be good conversation. Most of the time we are talking about food and how to fit it all in, but there is a another hot topic that comes up quite often. It is the topic of how to find the right sports bra.

It’s a question I always feel that I don’t have a good answer for.

At least not based on my personal experience. I am not as “blessed” as most women. At 5’3 and about 116 pounds (give or take half a pound) I usually wear an A cup or a small in a sports bra. I can get away with less support for most of my gym activities, choosing only to strap the girls down tight when running. I do use a little padding, not for aesthetics but for modesty. I keep the gym about 65 degrees. It’s a great temperature for a workout but chilly the rest of the time. To prevent anything from “popping out”, I always buy sports bras with padding.

Other than that I am pretty free to choose from any sports bra that I feel looks good (no side boob, please). Many of my clients, however, need more when it comes to a sports bra. While fat loss does tend to bring about the untended side effect of going down a cup size or two, sometimes it doesn’t. High impact movements like burpees, jumping jacks or running can make someone blessed with even a B cup can feel uncomfortable. Imagine a client who wants to start running who is a DDD or a G? They ask me if I can suggest a bra but, without more personal experience, I feel lacking.

My job is to solve my client’s problems. I am not afraid to admit it when I need help to do so. I know when it’s time to consult the experts. That starts for me with the Internet.

Bra Search Online

I know not everything on the Internet is true but you can learn a lot of things from the World Wide Web. I recently read about a web site that sounded like a reliable resource. It’s called Brayola. The concept seemed like the perfect fit (pardon the pun). You tell them a bra you have worn before and fit really well. They make recommendations based on what you already know works for you. I have a Moving Comfort bra that I really love but it is past its prime. (Sports bras should be replaced every 6-12 months). I added that to my profile and I got several reasonably priced recommendations. The problem was when I went to select one of the more supportive options they didn’t come in my size. While my bounce may not be as big I do still need to keep it under control. A dead end for me , but maybe it will help someone else. If you have an every day bra you like you can add it to your profile and search for a sports bra recommendation. They have a huge selection and offer free shipping anywhere in the US.

Bra Search iPhone App

The Internet let me down but I wasn’t giving up on technology just yet. After all, there is an app for that. The app ThirdLove is supposed to guess my perfect bra size (via pictures) and help my find the right bra. Genius! Except for two problems. You must take your phone case off to take photos that the app uses to measure you. I am somewhat clumsy and ineffective when it comes to such things, so I could not figure out how to take my hard case off my iPhone. Brian was away so I couldn’t test out the photo feature. I decided to try to search the site anyway and ran into the second snag. No sports bras. The app is a great idea but it wasn’t going to help me on my quest for the perfect sports bra

Consulting a Bra Expert

I know when it’s time to call in the big guns (sorry!). I found a bra expert. Emily Crites is the owner and specialist at Amelia Madden, a local specialty bra and intimates shop. After following them for several months on Instagram, I knew they carried sports bras. I felt certain that I could get the answers to my (and your) sports bra questions there.

I asked Emily if shopping for a sports bra differed in shopping for a regular bra. She said:

The sports bra needs to be the correct band and cup size just like an everyday bra.   Many women will purchase a sports bra that is sized Small, Medium, or Large or just buying a bra off the rack.  That is the same as sliding on a pair of flip-flops to go for a run.   Even if you don’t immediately feel pain from your ill-fitting bra, the motion of your breasts could be causing irreversible stretching of your Cooper’s ligaments and premature sagging.  Women need to understand a good sports bra is just as important as a good pair of athletic shoes.  

I always say you need the right tools for the job. Perhaps I have been short changing myself with my aloof attitude towards my own sports bras. Sagging is a problem no woman likes to deal with. I do always say you need the right equipment for the job. Maybe I needed to consider more support for ALL my workouts and not just running?

Emily raves about the Panache Sports Bra. As an active CrossFit devotee it’s the bra she wears herself. The Panache Sports Bra is an encapsulating bra, which prevents the dreaded “uniboob”. Emily explained:

There are two types of sports bras, compression and encapsulating.  Compression bras have one area in the front and compress your breast against your body to reduce movement.  These bras give the “uniboob” effect and are outdated technology.   Encapsulating bras separate your breasts into two compartments and support them correctly.  

The smallest size they had was a B but, since I have never truly been fitted, I decided to give it a go. At first I was worried about a little extra space in the cup but once I was shown the J hook in back everything felt like it was just where it should be. Never fear, the Panache also goes all the way up to an H cup. I went home with one in basic black (paid for with my own funds). I’ve worn it in the gym every day since, for my own workouts and training my clients, and it fits like a dream. No chaffing, no unsightly bunching and the J hook converts it from regular to racer back in one quick snap. With the snow on the ground I have not tried it for running but I give it a thumbs up for jumping jacks and the elliptical.

The best answer to the big questions – how to find the right sports bra – is to consult an expert. I’ve also found a brand that I can solidly recommend. It was also a bonus to find out a might be a little more “blessed” than I thought I was. Maybe I need to upgrade the rest of my bra collection!

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